Hey Fatso!

Peter Richmond remembers Art Donovan, a master storyteller:

It was over the first Schlitz "Tall Boy" that Art Donovan and I put away in the kitchen of the Valley Country Club in Towson in '86 — he owned and managed the place — when he told me about Kusen's. Kusen's was the Colts' favorite bar during the '58 season, when pro football started its long strange trip to its current perch atop the entertainment world. Kusen's was close to Memorial Stadium, the old semi-circle of brick with a centerfield view that featured rows of tidy blue-collar Baltimore homes. Ivan Kusen didn't know the game, but he bought season tickets anyway.

"He'd always say, 'You goddamned football players!'" Artie laughed. He looked like a large artillery shell tapering from a Michelin Man gut to a small head topped by a crewcut you could have putted off. Befitting Artie, the country club wasn't really a country club, just a place where you could hold events and parties. With a great sports bar.

Anyway, after closing time, it would be Artie who'd give Ivan a ride home, with all the receipts and money in a leather bag that Ivan would put on his lap and cover with string beans and corn in case anything untoward might happen on the ride home.

When Artie's mother came to town — the woman who, upon first learning that her kid was to get an NFL tryout from her husband down on the sidewalk, shouted out of the second-story window of their brownstone in the Bronx, "Those big guys'll kill him!" — the first thing she'd want to do was to go up the hill to Kusen's for an old-fashioned. When Kusen died, Artie was the executor of his will. This wasn't unusual; all of the Colts — Fatso (Artie), Mumbles (kicker Steve Myhra), Boulevard (tackle Jim Parker, because of the size of his butt,) Big Daddy (the imposing Eugene Lipscomb), Spats (the natty Lenny Moore) — would regularly accept invitations from fans in the neighborhoods to kids' birthday parties and cookouts. It was Baltimore. It was family.

For more on Donovan, check out this piece by Elliot Harrison and this one by Dan Steinberg.

Here's the AP's obit.

And a fine one by Mike Klingaman for the Baltimore Sun.

Hey Fatso!