Casa Flamingo

Sunday, March 26, 2017


Book Cover

Chapter 14

TP CAN’T EVEN WIN THEM ALL

TP loves to not only watch sports, but to wager on the games as well. Unfortunately, he usually doesn’t have much luck.

Long-time friend Bill Alter points out that Tom certainly isn’t the lucky Irishman when it comes to betting. “We all know that Tom has had a long time arrangement with several local bookies in Nashville. In fact if I recall correctly he has outlived three different bookies.

“I laugh at his betting skills because he always comes across as so sure of being able to pick the winners, but in the end I have only known Tom to say he actually collected money one time. When the bookie visits it’s to collect not to pay off,” Alter notes.

David Smith, now president of Allied Specialty Insurance, remembers that his late father, Duke Smith and TP were not only the best of friends, but they shared Mr. Mel Barnes, a “sports auditor,” a word they chose to use instead of bookie.

Smith recalls one particular instance that pretty much defines TP’s skills at wagering. “We were at the office one Saturday and Tom called Duke and they started going over a bunch of bets that Tom was getting ready to place. Duke wrote Tom’s choices down and he was giggling the entire time Tom was talking. He hung up the phone, called his bookie and bet every game the opposite of what Tom bet, and he won. He did that for several years. Then he just quit talking to Tom first and would call their bookie, and tell him that he wanted to bet opposite of whatever Tom bet.”

Let’s Skip the Sports Auditor

Duke called Tom one day and said, “Listen Tom, why do we even screw with the bookie. Why don’t you just pay me the money.” TP never talks about his wins or his losses but he does admit that he seldom collects. He’s also quick to point out that he always pays his debts. “Nobody has ever come looking for me, that’s for sure. I always pay off.”
Tom thinks he has it figured out why he doesn’t win very often. “I bet with my heart. I’ll never bet against a team that I’m rooting for. In other words, I would never bet against Notre Dame or Penn State. Now that doesn’t mean I’m going to bet on them but I would never bet against them.”

He can’t understand how weekend warriors who play in the fantasy baseball leagues do so well. “In most cases they don’t know beans about baseball and I’m like an expert. I read every box score every day and when I played in the fantasy league for several years, I finished last every season.”

One bet he would always make was on the Kentucky Derby. Debbie Burda of the Kentucky Fair & Exposition Center in Louisville, creates a friendly pool each year for the industry that lives outside the area but wants to make a $2 bet on the Derby. Unlike AB’s Ray Pilszak, who always seems to win something every time he bets, TP finally brought in the winnings when he bet on Sunday Silence in the 1989 Derby. He picked up $8.20 that afternoon, and he made it a point to put it in his column the following week to let everyone know that even TP can win a bet now and then.