OReilly on Racing: Stevens Brothers Look after the Inner Man of Sportdom, Daily Racing Form, 1957-06-06


view raw text

OReilly on Racing Stevens Brothers Look After The Inner Man of Sportdom By TOM OREILLY BELMONT PARK, Elmont, L. I., N. Y., June 5. Heard a man the other day say hed like to start "a nice little family business. Yknow, somethin me an the old lady an the kids could do, to get by." Id like to do the same thing. Trouble is I cant decide which family we should imitate. None of us are mechanics, so theres no use trying to do something like Henry Sr., Edsel and Henry Ford II., put over. We can all cook a little, however, so maybe we could put together a handy little family enterprise like the one operated by the Stevens brothers, caterers to the sports world. The late Harry M. Stevens started out with a bag of peanuts, like Charley MacArthur when he first met Helen Hayes. Offering Americas first actress some goobers, Charlie remarked, "I wish they were emeralds." Then they were married. Old Harry did even better. He kept adding to his peanuts until the whole -family actually could afford emeralds. There is no more popular and .successful clan in sports today. The activities -of the Stevens clan are so widespread that you could fill the remainder of this column just listing all the sports rendezvous in America where they cater to the inner man. Just say that they operate restaurants at the big race tracks from Tropical Park to Belmont Park, not to mention the Major League baseball parks and usually are found at? all sports events of any size. And, surprisingly enough, they still remain essentially a family business. When the original Harry M. Stevens died, in 1934, he left five children. They are now the senior members of the clan and have in turn spawned four more stalwarts, so that it is practically impossible to attend a big game, fight or derby in this country without finding a smiling Stevens busily making everybody happy through the road to a mans heart. The eldest of the tribe is Mrs. Annie Rose, who will be 80 this month and resides at the old-family home back in Niles, Ohio, where the ill-fated President William Mc-Kinley was born. Then there were four sons Hal, Frank, Billy and Joe. With one exception this quartet sticks pretty close to the Fifth Avenue office, except when Joe goes out to handle the Kentucky Derby or down to Baltimore for the Preakness. Frank Is Exception The exception is 77-year-old Frank. He cant stay out of airplanes and is constant-ly,hopping all over the country to see what goes. At the moment he is up in Saratoga for the raceway opening. There is no truth to the rumor that the family plans to put an airplane engine outside Franks Manhattan bedroom window, so he can sleep better. In addition to Frank at Saratoga, there is his son, Harry, at Belmont Park; Homer Rose, at Delaware Park; Joe Jr., preparing for the opening at Monmouth Park and Billy Jr. at Yonkers Raceway. All of this younger generation, like Joe Sr., attended Yale. Young Harry whose permanent home is now in Miami Beach, tried for the football team and roomed with famed Albie Booth. Homer Rose, who lives in Short Hills, N. J., was on the track team. Joe Jr., now a citizen of Princeton, N. J., managed the football team and lived with Clint Frank, the All-America stan Billy Jr., a j Manhattanite, played 150 pound football. All have baby sitters at home bringing up even more Stevens caterers. Naturally, building a successful business of this sort requires a bit more than having children and sending them to Yale. With a full head of steam in the boilers, this organization is likely to have ,000 employees working at various muscle foundries throughout the nation. On the same day it often handles food for people at the races, baseball games, the trots, dog-racing and the New York Coliseum. In addition to serving exceptionally fine carriage trade victuals, the Stevens are specialists at setting up shop on short notice, for big days. The Kentucky Derby brings the largest crowd to be fed in one place. An onlooker might assume that the World "Series would pose quite a problem, too, but Harry, affably taking time out to explain a few .seeming mysteries, at Belmont Park, denies this. "At the Series," he explains, "everybody has a reserved seat, which means that half the crowd may turn .up late. A Sunday double-header between two pennant contenders, when they open the gates at nine oclock in the morning, is best for us. That crowd gets hungry." One of the first things the Stevens boys learned, while toiling for their parents during summer vacations, from Yale, was the fact that this job requires hard work and plenty of thought. One of their trickiest operations will be staged at the end of July when Yonkers Raceway closes on the 31st and Roosevelt Raceway opens its brand new plant on August 1. Most of the Stevens like to compare . their operations Continued on Page Fourteen OReilly on Racing Continued from Page Six with that of a circus that is always on the go. At the race tracks, naturally, they must insist on the very best cuisine. Most racegoers are elder people who fancy such solid dishes as Irish stew, oxtail ragout, corned beef and cabbage, chicken salad, clam chowder, turkey wings and jello.v Harry once light-heartedly scratched clam chowder from the Charles Town race track menu and was surprised at the indignant squawks of his customers. Jello has always been a popular race track dessert beqause many physicians recommend its nerve-quieting qualities. In addition to the "hospital food," however, there are many luscious delights such as peach mel-ba, etc., on the menus. "Biggest race track eater. I ever saw?" said Harry, in answer to a question. "Well, I guess Id have to put the late Tom Thorpe, handicapper and football coach on top. Whenever Tom ordered pie, our waiters had orders to cut his piece from an untouched pie. Because if he liked it, hed " say, " Bring me the rest o the pie. " Yum-yum !

Persistent Link: https://drf.uky.edu/catalog/1950s/drf1957060601/drf1957060601_6_3
Local Identifier: drf1957060601_6_3
Library of Congress Record: https://lccn.loc.gov/unk82075800