My bucket-wish-list included spending a Super Bowl Sunday in Las Vegas. That wish was granted on Feb. 7 at the Tuscany Suites in Vegas, where I watched SB 50. Sports betting being legal in Nevada, I thought I’d research the phenomenon first-hand, being a bit of an academic!
My finely-honed sports instincts told me to go with the Denver Broncos and the “under” for numerous reasons, not the least of which was seeing Carolina quarterback Cam Newton profiled on the cover of Sports Illustrated—a major jinx for the Panthers.
But there were many hundreds of other possible wagers. Who would win the coin toss? Who would score first? Who would score last? Will Kawann Short record a sack?
I made dozens of small wagers on all these propositions, making the game especially interesting. I bet that the first field goal would be by Bronco Brandon McManus and be between 30-35 yards. That paid nicely.
I watched the second half in a cavernous ball room set up with numerous big screens. In tribal fashion, hundreds of fans decked themselves out in gridiron regalia, mostly (Denver) orange and (Carolina) blue. It was great fun, and it WAS enhanced by the wagering, which I’m sure also occurred in New Hampshire. However, all MY bets were LEGAL!
Next up on the bucket-wish-list: The NBA Finals!
Travelers can meet interesting people. In Vegas that meant a conversation with Stan Shapiro, a former song-writer for the Beach Boys. Stan explained that he also used to build custom furniture for Californians. Around 37 years ago the famous dancer Juliet Prowse asked him to meet her in Las Vegas to discuss furnishing a residence there. (At the time Prowse was hanging out with Frank Sinatra, whom she met on the set of the movie CAN-CAN. But I digress.)
While waiting to meet Prowse at the Stardust Hotel, Stan, being a sports fan, made some small bets on college football games. While watching the games he chatted up Mike B., a Connecticut banker, who flew weekly into Vegas to see a showgirl and to bet on sports.
Mike B. asked Shapiro how he was doing.
“I’m three for three and I’m up over a hundred bucks!” replied Stan. “How about you?”
“I’m down $30,000,” replied the banker. “Who do you like in tomorrow’s NFL games?”
Shapiro shared his picks.
“We don’t agree on anything,” responded Mike B. “Let’s see what happens.”
On Sunday Shapiro won $600. Mike B. lost $40,000.
“You’re good at this,” said Mike B. “Let’s talk.”
The subsequent conversation led to an arrangement where Shapiro shared his football advice to Mike B. and eventually others. Stan created a prognostication service called the “Sports Edge.” He picked 80% winners the first four weeks and made $100,000. Shapiro then became a regular on the Las Vegas sports talk radio show hosted by the legendary Lee Peet. He was later featured on the even bigger San Francisco KGO radio sports talk show hosted by Ronn Owens.
Shapiro was in his glory as the money rolled in. Without saying who he was, he contacted Dallas Cowboy coach Tom Landry to get an edge on NFL dynamics. Landry graciously made time for Stan, and explained how he focused on opponent weaknesses, as opposed to strengths.
Shapiro subsequently published a booklet called “Isolating the Loser” and sent thousands of them across the country, to include every sports talk radio station.
The next year Stan had 16 straight winning weeks and the money kept coming in. He became ever-more sophisticated in his methods, studying how wagering lines and betting rotations emerged. He had a massive mailing list and hired help to maintain his operation.
“Then one day I was visited by the FBI,” Shapiro recalled. “They were investigating a double murder related to illegal betting in California. The killers were apparently after mailing lists.”
Shapiro told the FBI that he did indeed have a large mailing list to send subscribers his booklet.
“We recommend you stay away from your office or wherever it is that you keep the mailing list,” a G-Man told Shapiro. “Mobsters are going to come after that list and probably kill you in the process.”
Sure enough, shortly thereafter Shapiro’s office was ransacked.
“So I broke up my mailing list into small parts and sold them to commodity brokers,” explained Stan. “I moved from sports speculation into stock speculation. I made $400,000 my first year.”
Shapiro shared that he’d never gone to college, although he did have an instinct for entrepreneurism.
“But what I’d really like to have been was a sports-writer,” Stan confided.
“I’ve done some of that,” I responded. “But for much less money than you made with your businesses.”
So what happened with Juliet Prowse?
“She never showed up,” said Shapiro.
Probably Sinatra’s fault.
What current Major League Baseball team reported to Spring Training in Tempe, Arizona, in 1970 as the Seattle Pilots and departed Tempe with a new name representing a new city? (Answer follows)
Born Today …
That is to say, sports standouts born on February 18 include former Boston Bruin goalkeeper Andy Moog (1960) and former New York Giant linebacker Gary Reasons (1962).
Sportsquote “They say some of my stars drink whiskey. But I have found that the ones who drink milkshakes don’t win many ball games.” ―manager Fred McMane
The Milwaukee Brewers were formed during Spring Training of 1970 when the Seattle Pilot franchise was purchased by Bud Selig on April 1, six days before Opening Day.
Michael Moffett is a Professor of Sports Management at Plymouth State University and at NHTI-Concord. He recently co-authored the critically-acclaimed and award-winning “FAHIM SPEAKS: A Warrior-Actor’s Odyssey from Afghanistan to Hollywood and Back” (with the Marines)—which is available through Amazon.com. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.