Joe Namath, Tom Jones and me …

In early 1970, the new advertising agency, Jack Byrne Advertising, moved from its temporary quarters at the Shelton Towers Hotel to 770 Lexington Avenue, between East 60th and East 61st Streets.  One of the benefits of this move was that JBA was now located but one block from Bachelor’s III which had been my favorite haunt from the day it had opened in November 1968. My pre-JBA office of Griswold Eshleman/Baker & Byrne was only 6 blocks away on Madison Avenue. This distance was short, indeed, to hang out in the same place as my friends and heroes, Joe Namath and the New York Jets.

Even though I had just rented my new East 58th Street apartment by taking over the lease from three New York Giants, Fran Tarkington (Quarterback), Ernie Koy (Fullback) and Tommy Joe Crutcher (Linebacker), my fan-ism was directed towards that AFL man who had upset the Baltimore Colts and the National Football League in directing  football’s most historitc upset, the AFL New York Jets defeat of the NFL Champions, The Baltimore Colts,  in Super Bowl III on January 12, 1969 held in the Orange Bowl in Miami, and had vocally guaranteed the upset before the game. I was a very vocal supporter of Joe Namath, not only in his popular club, but in the press as well.

In fact, The New York Times had published a long Letter to the Editor from me in defense of Joe Namath when Pete Rozelle, NFL Commissioner, in July, 1969 ordered Namath to divest his interest in Bachelor’s III. Joe and, especially his lawyer. Jimmy Walsh, appreciated my defense of him which was intense on the side of the qualities of honor and leadership that come with the disciplined life of a world-class athlete. Of course, I was a better writer than a researcher. It was not until some time later, I learned that some of my fellow customers at Bachelor’s III were “known people”, like Carmine (Snake) Persico, Tommy “Tea Balls” Mancusco, Carmine Valenti, etc. The four telephones on the walls of the small premises had not aroused my suspicions regarding bookmaking as they had those of the investigators from the FBI, the NFL and others.

Nevertheless, I was a happy customer and always welcomed by Ray Abruzzese, Joe’s former partner, and Bobby Van, who often functioned as a host. Frequently, I would have a few words with my Jet heroes like fullback, Matt Snell, cornerback, Johnny Sample, defensive back, John Dockery and defensive end, Gerry Philbin. I had even been to Ray’s East 76th Street apartment for a birthday party for Joe, which is another story.

But, this story has only one point.

One Friday night, I was sitting in the back of Bachelor’s III with my former executive secretary, Lynn Lewis. She deserves some explanation, as I had a deep commitment to never messing where you eat and traditionally never got involved with people in the same company. That was impossible with Lynn. She was so hot, car windows steamed over in her presence. I had a partner named Stanley Kovics. We called Lynn, “Stanley’s Steamer”.  Which is also another story.

Sitting at the table adjoining “the steamer” and I,  were three ladies in their late twenties. They were very excited from the moment they sat down. They told us they had just been to see Tom Jones at the Empire Room at the Waldorf=Astoria and that he had bent down from the stage and said hello to them and shook one’s hand. They bubbled like teenagers watching the Beetles.  About an hour later, Joe came in and saw me and came over to say hello (but probably more  to hit on Lynn). Thinking these ladies might enjoy another life altering experience I said, “Joe, these three ladies are friends of ours. Ladies, please meet Joe Namath.” Their collective squeals hurt my eardrums, as Joe sat down at their table and hit on them for awhile, like a good host.

I went to make a phone call and, while I was gone, Joe bid goodbye to the fan club and they turned on Lynn and said in various ways, “Oh My God, Tom Jones and Joe Namath both in one night, Oh My God!!” Then, Lynn looked at them and, believing in the fame of my Barney’s radio team of  “Jay & Day”, announced, “Think that’s something, the guy you’ve been talking to is Jack Jay!”

Their squeals trebled and as I was returning to the table, I heard repeatedly, “Tom Jones, Joe Namath and JACK JAY, Oh-my-god-oh-my-god Oh My!”

It was my first experience as a matinée idol.

I loved it.

My second experience was when I got a cold call from a lady fan of Jay & Day who invited me to a “Mission Impossible” party. I could not accept the invitation but, within 12 months, I married her.

That’s still another, and longer, story.


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