The Art of storytelling

Fifty years ago, Art Donovan lumbered into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. The first Baltimore Colt inducted, Donovan, a defensive tackle, played 12 years, winning NFL championships in 1958 and 1959. Enshrined on Aug. 3, 1968, he died 45 years later, almost to the day, on Aug. 4, 2013.

Truth be told, Donovan was as good at spinning yarns as he was at stopping runners. Here’s a classic that Donovan shared with The Sun in 1975:

"We used to throw cold buckets of water on each other [in the locker room], and one day [Coach] Weeb Ewbank sent word out that the next guy he caught throwing water, he was going to fine $1,000. So Gino Marchetti says to Carl Taseff, ‘Listen, Gaucho, we’ll throw one more bucket of water and we’ll throw it on ‘The Horse’ [Alan Ameche]. I’ll stand here,’ he says, ‘and when The Horse comes around the corner, I’ll nod and you let him have it.’

"So, anyhow, here comes Weeb out of his office, all dressed up to do his TV show, and he comes around the corner and Marchetti nods and Gaucho lets the bucket of water go and – oh, my God! – he sees Weeb and he goes running after the water with the bucket and Weeb is standing there drenched saying, ‘You SOB. You dirty, no good SOB,’ and Gaucho is saying, ‘I’m sorry, Coach. I’m sorry, Coach,’ and the guys are rolling on the floor and crying and laughing, and Weeb is so mad he’s shaking and there’s that poor bastard Gaucho standing there saying, ‘I’m sorry, Coach. I’m sorry, Coach.’ "

Here’s another:

"So I had this one jacket for a long time and it got frayed around the cuffs and collar, but I still liked to wear it because I felt comfortable in it, and we’re in Long Beach, Calif., and I’m standing in the lobby of the hotel and Marchetti and Dick Syzmanski sneak up behind me and rip the damn jacket off my back. It was funny and everybody laughed and all that, and I took the jacket and threw it in the trash can in the hotel.

"A couple of hours later, I come down to the lobby and there it is, the jacket, wrapped around a nude woman statue. So I grabbed it again and put it in the trash can of the lady who cleaned the hotel. The next day I’m getting on the bus and the bellman, he comes up to me and says, ‘Hey, I got a package for you and it’s COD and it’s $3 postage.’ So I give him $3 and we take off and we’re going to the airport to go to San Francisco and I open the package and it’s the damned jacket.

"So I take it and throw it out the window of the bus. Now, this is outside Long Beach, and I figure, ‘Well, that’s that.’ So, anyhow, we get to San Francisco and the night before the game this bellboy comes up to me in the lobby of the St. Francis Hotel and says, ‘Here, you got a package and there’s postage due.’ I say, ‘What the hell is this?’ So I pay him and open it up and it’s that damn jacket. So now I take it and throw it down the laundry chute of the hotel.

"About two weeks later, I’m back in Baltimore and I get another package that I’ve got to pay $5 for and what the hell if it isn’t that damn jacket again. So it’s cost me about $22 to get rid of the damn thing. So I give it to my wife and tell her to throw the damn thing away. So then the Shriners had this thing for the team and this is about eight months later and they invite me and when I get there they present me with that damn jacket again.

"What happened, see, is that they paid people to get it back from where I threw it. Then, when I threw it out of the bus window, the guys in the second bus stopped the bus and got it and wrapped it up and sent it from the airport in Los Angeles up to San Francisco. They paid some guy to get it out of the chute in the hotel in San Francisco and then someone got it from my wife after they mailed it back to Baltimore."

mike.klingaman@baltsun.com

twitter.com/MikeKlingaman

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