Bat Masterson said he didn't know anybody Wyatt couldn't whip without his guns. A lot of times Wyatt didn't carry guns...because if he carried guns he had to kill somebody--and he would kill somebody--but he didn't want to. He was a very religious man.When we think of Bat Masterson, most of us envision a lawman, a gunfighter--a man's man in the Old West along side Wyatt Earp, Wild Bill Hickock and Doc Holiday. The television series definitely promoted that image. But did you know that he was also a New York sports writer?
Yep. Not only did he end up being a sports writer, but he wrote for years--as a newspaper reporter and editor as well as for other periodicals--and he'd been doing so since he was a young man. In fact, his ability to write and promote himself is how he pretty much created his own legend.
It all started in Quebec, Canada, on November 26, 1853, when a baby boy named Bartholomew Masterson was born Irish parents. In his teens, the family moved to Wichita, Kansas, and he along with his two of his brothers, Ed and James, went off to seek their fortunes as so many other boys did--buffalo hunting. At age 20, he fought in the Second Battle of Adobe Walls, and then worked for a while as a U.S. Army scout. From 1876 to 1882, he did his gunfight/lawman gig where he rose to notoriety, but our story starts in 1883.
It seems Bat rather enjoyed the sport of boxing. A lot. He was obsessed with fights and was more than fair at pre-fight analysis as well as calling the winners. So good, in fact, that he wrote a sports column for a Denver newspaper called George's Weekly. Newspapermen (and brothers) A.H. and W.E. Lewis had befriended Bat in Kansas City ten years before, and they would play a prominent role in Bat's fame and later success in the East. With their help, he'd honed his writing skills and while he couldn't be called a literary giant, he was pretty good at the craft.
During the years between his gunfighting days and his newspaper career, he mixed a little law enforcement here and there with gambling and writing. He was a professional gambler (called a thoroughbred) and organized boxing matches, acted as referee at times, as bookie, and guard. He never did actually box himself, though. His predictions were often right on, and he was excellent at assessing the fighters, their physical abilities, talent, and motivation.
Bat's life wasn't all roses. He ended up in more than a few altercations when his past reputation would catch up with him, and after a while, also succumbed to the lure of alcohol, although he threw off the demon when he moved to Manhattan. The buzz of New York City suited him just fine and he loved living there. Who would have thought a crusty old gunfighter would take so quickly to city life?
He hooked up with the Lewis brothers again, and he wrote for the New York Morning Telegraph, where he eventually because vice president and secretary. He was close friends with Teddy Roosevelt and other notables, and lived well for the rest of his days.
In 1921, he was writing his column when he had a heart attack and died hunched over his typewriter. The last thing he wrote was, "There are those who argue that everything breaks even in this old dump of a world of ours. I suppose these ginks who argue that way hold that because the rich man gets ice in the summer and the poor man gets it in the winter things are breaking even for both. Maybe so, but I'll swear I can't see it that way."
His last words are evidence that our world really hasn't changed much.
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