Swingin' Sports Stories
Neal has published several articles and is a sought after speaker and guide. He has been interviewed on local history by CBS, CNN, The Golf Channel, the History Channel, the UK's SkySports and others. He also edited a series of "Bedside Readers" for Pebble Beach Resorts featuring writers of the Monterey Peninsula, wrote the copy for a U.S. Open Viewers Guide on Pebble Beach Golf Links that was distributed by Titleist in 2000, and wrote and directed a video tribute on Samuel F.B. Morse, the visionary founder and head of Pebble Beach Company for its first 50 years.
Neal has since retired from PBC, but still consults with PBC, especially on historical matters and research and his weekly column. He was also retained to research and write the centennial history of Monterey Peninsula Country Club (1925-2025).
Thanks to Neal for sharing this story! Excerpt from The Carmel Pine Cone, April 19th, 2019.
Getting the real story of Sinatra's mighty swing at president's jaw
By Neal Hotelling
Getting the real story of Sinatra's mighty swing at president's jaw
STORIES ARE the essence of history, but they are not always true
One story I initially doubted was that Frank Sinatra beat up the president of the Pebble Beach Company.
I gave it little merit, as Sam Morse would have been in his late 70s when the incident supposedly happened, and I couldn't believe that, even with Sinatra's "bad boy" reputation, he would attack a man like Morse. Furthermore, Morse was a pretty tough guy and even in his 70s probably would have given as good as he got.
As my knowledge of local history expanded, I learned that while Morse remained in charge of Pebble Beach until his death in 1969, three men served under him as president of the company. The first was his son, John Boit Morse (1947-1950), who brought in the Pebble Beach Road Races, which ran from 1950 until 1956, and the now-famous Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance.
The second, Richard Osborne (1956-1964), was the husband of Morse's youngest daughter, Mary. Like Morse, Osborne was a native of the Boston area, and while Morse was a proud Yale man, he could overlook Os- borne's 1943 graduation from Harvard as it was followed by a patriotic commission in the Navy and World War II service in the Pacific and European theaters. His father, Lithgow Osborne, served as U.S. ambassador to Nor- way from 1944 to 1946, reestablishing relations after the war. Richard and Mary were a welcome youthful addition to the Pebble Beach scene.
The third was Tim Michaud (1964-1970), who came to Morse's attention as a young, aggressive executive of the Draper Compa- nies that Morse brought in to develop Del Monte Center in the early-1960s.
Nevertheless, I didn't give the Sinatra story much credence until I interviewed local golf entrepreneur Nick Lom- bardo.
Before developing the courses at Laguna Seca, Pajaro and Rancho Cañada, Lombardo leased the company's Del Monte course in Monterey. I wanted his version of how that came about. He told me he had built a golf course in Fresno and wanted to build one in Monterey.
When that fell through, he heard the Del Monte golf course might be for sale and arranged a meeting with Osborne during the 1964 Bing Crosby Pro-Am. Osborne arrived about an hour late for the meeting, with his head bandaged and his arm in a sling.
Nick's brother-in-law and business partner asked, "Can I ask what happened?"
Osborne responded, "I underestimated the sense of humor of one of our guests."
Nick then told us that Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin had called for room service the night before, but after the kitchen had closed. They got quite surly. Hearing about it the next morning, Osborne went to the room with a bottle of champagne and knocked on the door, calling out, "Room Service." Sinatra was not amused.
With this first-hand account, I did some further research into this sidebar piece of Pebble Beach history. While there are various accounts of the circumstances, it did happen. Sinatra never commented on it, and Osborne rarely did, but Lombardo's version seems close.
Dean Martin was a regular in the Crosby tournament; Frank Sinatra had only recently taken to golf. Neither played in the 1964 Crosby as they were busy promoting their new film "Four for Texas." They arrived at The Lodge late Friday night - actually early Saturday morning. Sinatra wanted something to eat and wouldn't accept the kitchen being closed as an excuse. "Want something to eat," he kept repeating, punching the front counter.
The clerk called Osborne, who lived at nearby Casa Palmero, and handed the phone to Sinatra. "Want something to eat," he repeated. And when Osborne repeated the kitchen was closed, Sinatra asked him to come over and talk about it.
The two famous guests then went to their room, and Osborne dressed and arrived about 1 a.m. with a bottle of champagne as a peace offering. What, if anything, was said is conjecture, but the much smaller Sinatra landed a fist to the head of the over-6-foot-tall Osborne, which dropped him to the floor, banging his knees on furniture on the way down. Osborne did his best to block the follow-up punches with his elbows but, ever the gentle- man, never threw a punch himself. Osborne made his escape as Sinatra ran out of breath.
As the new day dawned, both men sought treatment; Sinatra reportedly broke a finger. Both were seen on the course on Saturday and at separate parties on the ground Saturday night, so reports that Sinatra was evicted are fiction, but while Martin attended many more events at Pebble Beach, the next time a Sinatra showed up, it was Frank's daughter, Tina, for the 1970 Clint Eastwood tennis tournament.
It is worth noting that two months earlier, November 1963, Sinatra hosted his own PGA Tour Event at Palm Springs - The First Annual Frank Sinatra Invitational Golf Tournament, nicknamed Sinatra's Swingfest. By most counts it was a success. Even Bing Crosby played in Sinatra's one-day pro- am. Given the Pebble Beach incident, was it just coincidence that there was no second annual Swingfest? The PGA Tour pulled the plug on Sinatra's tournament in August 1964.
Chicago Tribune Editor/Writer
Richard will be including this song when he does his own top 10 baseball songs later in the week.
Thanks to Richard for sharing his thoughts about Baseball Season and Sinatra.
With the baseball season about to begin (finally), here is one of the best songs ever written about the national pasttime.
"There Used To Be a Ballpark Right Here" was written by Joe Raposo, better known for his many years working on "Sesame Street."
The song marked the end of the Polo Grounds but is often sung with the death of Ebbets Field.
Beautifully sung by the Chairman of the Board
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cHnHWHfkSkU click on link to watch
Sportscaster Ted Sobel
Listed as one of seven distinguished Los Angeles City College Communications Department alumni, Ted Sobel has had an exemplary career in sports broadcasting covering more Super Bowls, college football and basketball national championship games, World Series, NBA & NHL finals, golf and tennis majors, and horse racing's Triple Crown & Breeders' Cups than any SoCal-based radio reporter. If the summer Olympics, World Cup soccer, MLS Cup Finals, and championship boxing are included, Ted has covered/attended more major events than Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, and Roger Federer's combined major championship wins.
Many Thanks to Ted for sharing an excerpt from his book TOUCHING GREATNESS
EARLY VEGAS BABY
In the early 60s, we would mostly stay at the 'in' place of the time the Sands Hotel AKA: 'A Place In The Sun.' It was the coolest spot in town then, especially after the 1960 cult-like crime/comedy flick Ocean's 11 gave it iconic status. It was just like being in the movie, when we checked in a few times every year. As the frequent haunt of the famed Rat Pack (Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Joey Bishop, and Peter Lawford), the Sands had a mystique that could never be equaled before or since.
Postcard - The Sands Hotel
My day would consist of the same things each and every time visiting there-wandering the nearby grounds, which in those days, instead of giant hotels next door, there were only giant desert ants that I chased around their little barren sand dunes, as we all tried to understand how a mirage could form in the street. I'd then linger at the Paradise Pool with my siblings, walk directly across the street to Bud's Liquor Store (to get ANOTHER free miniature plastic slot machine given out with any purchase-which was mostly gum), and then went next door to The Castaways, a Polynesian-themed hotel/casino (now the Mirage).
With only time to kill, I would usually just hang over the lobby rail overlooking the glitzy Sands casino, checking out my parents at whatever table they would be playing at, while regularly having my hotel bellman buddy Bo Schneider drive me around in his snazzy electric tram. Bo didn't just regularly drive me anywhere between his duties of checking folks in, he was also my personal Rat Pack tour guide (well before it was popular), showing me where Frank and Dean and Sammy and the others stayed when playing.
My father somehow knew Mr. Jack Entratter, who was the longtime Sands president and director of entertainment after his years running the famed Copacabana in NYC. He oversaw their main showroom and had the biggest budget to attract the biggest names often in the earlier days, with the Count Basie Orchestra behind them. For years, the Sands main marquee always read 'Jack Entratter presents.' One time in bold letters, the marquee featured the ultimate tease of 'DEAN MARTIN-MAYBE FRANK, MAYBE SAMMY.' Their impromptu sold-out shows would attract even some individuals who slept in their cars just to be on the grounds when no rooms were available.
Dad would stress that Mr. Entratter was the one man most responsible for putting Vegas on the map, with his show biz contact list longer than the strip itself and with that amazingly high entertainment budget of over a million dollars a year in the early 60s. As such, he always made it a point to have me shake Entratter's hand whenever making contact there-the perfect example of 'it's who you know baby!' The Copa Room became THE place for any big-name entertainer to show off their skills. "It was easily the best part of my stay there getting to see them all perform."
The Rat Pack era was simply the greatest to see the top entertainers of all-time, many of whom appeared at the Sands and Sahara hotels at the time. When I was about eight years old, my mother and I were walking through the Sands casino and coming our way was the least known of the Pack, Peter Lawford whom I had previously asked why was he famous? (We later saw him perform his song and dance show on stage.) Actually, I had seen him wandering in the casino a few times. Mom said he was simply an actor turned socialite, who got connected with Sinatra when he was married into the Kennedy family, before becoming the brother-in-law to JFK. Was that a good reason?
My mother watched as I approached Lawford, when he bent down to put his hand on my shoulder and said, "Hi pal." Mom quickly introduced me to him, and he smiled back and with that smooth British accent replied, "It's so nice to meet you Teddy." I shook his hand and he walked away. I then soon asked Mom again, "I still don't understand what makes him famous?" She laughed as we moved on and never let me forget that moment-which is why it has stuck with me all these years later. Its been said that Lawford was 'famous for being famous' and now I get it-sort of like one of the Kardashians (except with SOME talent).
With my father often introducing me to his influential friends he would always repeat, "you never know when they might be in your life." This advice was on my mind when he was walking me over to Joey Bishop, after a function at the Friars Club. That meeting turned out to be a nice interaction with one of the Rat Packers.
Joey Bishop and Sammy Davis, Jr. signed first-day covers from Ted's collection
Above pic - The Sands Hotel Show Table Card
Dad, a gambler and a regular who again always seemed to know the right people everywhere, got us in to see most of the greats perform. Just a magical time to get to be in the same showrooms as the inimitable Bobby Darin, Andy Williams, Louis Armstrong, Ethel Merman, Jerry Lewis, Red Skelton, Danny Thomas, Mitzi Gaynor, Wayne Newton, Liberace, Milton Berle, Jimmy Durante, Harry Belafonte, Lena Horne, Don Rickles, Steve & Edie, Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy, Shecky Greene, Buddy Hackett, Alan King, Debbie Reynolds, Vic Damone, "Rosemary Clooney, George Gobel, Hines Hines and Dad, the Four Step Brothers, Abbe Lane, Juliet Prowse, Paul Anka, Robert Goulet, Joe E. Lewis, Allen & Rossi, Buddy Greco, Jack Carter, Corbett Monica, Jan Murray, Buddy Lester (my buddy Paul's dad), and Dinah Shore (whom I would later get to meet and greet at her golf tournament.) This long all-star list of extreme talent was never too much for this kid to feel like a big-leaguer in their presence. And that will always be a part of me.