This week SPORTS ILLUSTRATED serves up for your delectation a story on a shuffleboard hustler. A what?
That, of course, was Dallas Correspondent Wes Wise's reaction, too, when he was asked to locate one for us. Reading on, he found that Gil Rogin's wire asking the whereabouts of one Texas Billy Mays illuminated the matter somewhat. The telegram specified that table shuffleboard was that game usually played in the recesses of bars such as The Hideaway or The Alibi and that Texas Billy was the acknowledged world champion.
Wise was still almost unbelieving. He wrote SPORTS ILLUSTRATED: "I shall never cease to be amazed at SI's tentacles for drawing in information. How the hell did you guys ever get on to a shuffleboard shark?"
As a matter of fact, Memphis Stringer Charlie Gillespie put us onto Mays (indirectly), but Wise's question was rhetorical. By the time the editors could think up a smart answer to send back to Wes, he was too busy to appreciate it: "I started calling the numerous Bill, Billy and William Mayses in the Dallas telephone book. I met with many reactions, none of them the one I was hoping for. One Mays took it as an insult that I would even think he would indulge in such a low-life pastime. Another wanted to hear all about the sport of shuffleboard—probably would have become a fast fan had I had the time to explain. Still another thought it was a practical joke from one of his buddies—and probably still thinks so."
September 3, 1967
After finishing the Dallas phone book and starting on the rest of Texas, Wise began to lose hope. "That's when I took to the airways," Wise says. "On my Sportswise program I voiced a fervent plea: 'If anyone in KRLD's 50,000-watt broadcast area knows about Billy Mays, the expert shuffleboard player..."
One of the last of KRLD's 50,000 pushed the message as far as Shreveport, La., and there it caught up with a former employer of Mays's, who called Wise. "Billy plays shuffleboard at the Silver Seven Lounge every Wednesday night," W. G. (Red) Oster counseled. "You're sure to find him there after 9 o'clock." Wise thanked his informant profusely and was about to hang up. "A friendly word of warning," the man said. "Billy's a nice fella, but if you wanta keep your money, don't ever bet against him."
Wise filed his observations after a rollicking evening with Mays and his wife. Rogin and Wise attended the world table-shuffleboard championships with Mays. Rogin went on the shuffleboard tour with Mays. The result is the story beginning on page 58.
This is not the only time Wise has used radio to help SPORTS ILLUSTRATED. (Once he located a checkers champion in Waco.) Not surprisingly, his listeners lap this up, wondering what sort of nut thing this Wise guy is going to be looking for next. Whatever it is, we hope it will be for us.