News of Yore 1929: Tad Eulogized

Press and Sports World Laud Tad in Final Tributes to Genius

Newspaper Associates Write With “Tears In Their Eyes” — Baseball and Boxing Men Lament Cartoonist’s Death

(Editor & Publisher, 5/11/29)

Sport writers and sportsmen paid tribute last week to Tad, cartoonist, humorist and sport writer, idol of New York newspaperdom, who died during his sleep shortly after noon, May 2, leaving the world of the ringside and baseball diamond, which he loved so much, after nine years of virtual confinement to his home in Great Neck, L.I.

His many devoted freinds on the sport staffs of numerous newspapers in New York and other cities dipped their pens in reminiscence and wrote of the countless practical jokes, the time-honored wisecracks and the gameness of their freind, Thomas Aloysius Dorgan, who was Tad to them and all the rest of his gay world. In his own particular phrase of commendation, reserved for people he admired most, Tad’s friends wrote his epitaph — “He was a swell guy.”

At Madison Square Garden, temple of the “manly art,” the sport he liked best, an empty seat was draped with black for Tad’s memory, during the bouts, May 3, and while taps was sounded from the ring, the crowds present stood with bowed heads.

Tad kept working up to the day before his death, and conscientiously kept up his schedule of 10 cartoons in advance. These were continued in the New York Journal and other papers served by King Features Syndicate after a break of one day in honor of the artist. Many of Tad’s old drawings of “Indoor Sports,” “Outdoor Sports,” “Judge Rummy” and the “Daffydils” will be run by the Hearst papers for some time to come.

Among Tad’s many admirable qualities, extolled by his friends, were his courage, his wit and his kindness. Courage was the keynote of his life. When he was a boy in San Francisco his right hand was mutilated in an accident and he learned to draw with his left. He was the principal support of his mother and six brothers and sisters, and when Arthur Brisbane wired him offering a job on the New York Journal at $60 a week, he wired back that he needed $75 because he had to take his family to New York with him. Brisbane replied with an extra raise, and Tad came to Gotham at $100 a week.

Although Tad’s cartooning, wisecracking and associations with the realm of sports and the white lights branded him with the mark of gaiety and lightheartedness, his friends testified to his qualities as a serious thinker. He read extensively and whenever a young fellow would ask his advice he would tell him to “buy good books and read every line of them.”

He was a kind and strict “father” to his brothers and sisters, maintaining a sharp watch over their welfare. Once a week he would have a conference with two of his brothers, who called regularly for a “bawling out.” At these conferences Tad would ask them about their behavior and urge them to work hard.

He idolized his mother, whom he called “Flynn,” which was her maiden name. He gave a dinner every year on the occasion of her birthday and always prepared a veritable gauntlet of trick glasses and other practical jokes, which “Flynn” was forced to run during the course of the dinner.

It was a hard blow to him when he was ordered by his physician not to attend any more prize-fights. This came during the period of Jack Dempsey’s training in Atlantic City for his bout with Georges Carpentier in 1921. Tad had been taken ill at the Dempsey-Miske fight the previous year, but had continued to “cover” his favorite sport for the Journal until the final warning that the further excitement of the prize-ring would be too great a strain on his heart.

Many fighters were his friends, among them Dempsey, whom Tad picked to beat Jess Willard, the Goliath of the ring, despite the fact that only a few others were of the same opinion. Dempsey never forgot this, and last week he paid a grand tribute to Tad, saying:

“I looked upon him then as the greatest authority on boxing, and when he picked me to beat Willard it strengthened my confidence. Up to the time that he could no longer make his observations first-hand I believe he knew more about fighting than any other man.”

In recent years, Tad depended upon the radio for synthetic attendence at the fights.

Tad had a penchant for nicknaming people. He christened Joe Gans, the colored ring champion, “The Old Master,” and he used to call Arthur Brisbane “Big George.”

Baseball was his second love among the sports. The Yankees were his favorite team and Hal Chase was his most idolized player, with Babe Ruth ranking second.

He loved to play cards and pinochle was his favorite game. He would shoot dice until he lost $10 and then quit.

An odd quirk of his character was brought out this week in a story told by one of his friends. Back in 1907 Irving Berlin, who was Tad’s favorite song writer, used to work as a singing waiter at Jimmy Kelly’s restaurant on 14th Street and Tad used to sit by the hour and listen to him sing “San Francisco Bay.”

Several of the sports writing fraternity testified to Tad’s quick wit with a story of his first days on the Journal. He was involved in a small but lively “crap” game in the cartoonist’s room with several of his co-workers, among them Bud Fisher, Harry Hershfield, Tom McNamara, Tom Powers, George McManus and Damon Runyan [this list includes several who weren’t at the Journal when Tad arrived]. Shooting dice was against the rules of the Journal, but the boys, in their ardor, had put aside all thoughts of rules. One of the contestants had his arm poised high over his head shaking the dice and exhorting a nine to make its appearance when, without warning, Arthur Brisbane walked on the scene. The arm remained frozen in its pose. A ghastly silence came over the group. But Tad came to the rescue. Turning to the editor, he said quietly, “There’s a quarter open; do you want it?”

Many other tales of Tad’s practical jokes and odd likes and dislikes were narrated by his host of friends in newspapers throughout the country this week, and each of then wrote with a tear in his eye.

3 comments on “News of Yore 1929: Tad Eulogized

  1. Hello, Allan and everyone—One often reads of how TAD invented the term "Hot Dog" for the frankfurter sausage. It's been said that this christening occured in a cartoon showing a snack vendor at a baseball game. If this were true, I'm assuming this particular drawing would have come to light by now. What do you think?—Cole Johnson.

  2. Frankly, no, I don't. I find the idea that a popular bit of slang started from a single cartoon in a daily paper to be almost laughable. People need to be exposed over and over for something like that to catch on. I recall reading an article about this subject and the upshot was the same as you suggested — show us the cartoon and we'll talk.

    For the record, I also don't think Pop Momand invented the phrase "keeping up with the Joneses." I think he used a catch-phrase already coined. But the pop etymologists are against me on that one.


  3. No idea when the Tad cartoon is supposed to have spawned the "hot dog", but it should have been in or before May 26 1901, as that is the date of,2146400&dq=hot-dog&hl=en
    and article in the Bridgeport Herald about Hot Dogs (for Frankfurters), which where apparently a new thing in Bridgeport since some two months. Earlier mentions (1895 and thereabouts) are less obviously about the same stuff.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.