The Tex Rickard Blog! “The Magnificent Rube – The Life & Gaudy Times of Tex Rickard” Book Review, Rickard’s Extraordinary Life, Gambling, Gold Mining, Boxing, Impact with the New York Rangers & More on Rickard’s Fascinating Life & Career

Tex Rickard
Truth be told, I don’t think most Ranger fans of today know who Tex Rickard even was. It is also my opinion, that for the people who do know who Tex Rickard was, that outside of him being the founder/first owner of the New York Rangers, they don’t know much else about him. Hopefully, this blog will give you everything you ever needed to know on Rickard! Photo Credit: Charles Samuels / McGraw-Hill Book Company

Greetings and salutations everyone and welcome to another blog here on BlueCollarBlueShirts.com. Hope all is well on your end, as we hopefully get to the end of all these lockdowns, shutdowns and quarantines.

It is my plan to do a double blog, here on May 18th. As regular readers are well aware of, I usually throw everything into one blog and live by the “10,000 words, 1 click, no ads” slogan. However, a few blogs ago, when I did the Bill Chadwick “Big Whistle” book review, on top of a full length blog, that blog took a while to load. To prevent crazy load times, I’m presenting you this, “The Magnificent Rube – Life & Gaudy Times of Tex Rickard”, book review as a solo entry.

In addition to this book review, I’ll talk everything else Tex Rickard too, especially since this book doesn’t get into Rickard’s tenure with the New York Rangers. It is then my plan to return with another blog, either late Monday night/early Tuesday morning, recapping all the current events in Rangerstown, USA.

However, before getting started, since I already mentioned the Bill Chadwick “Big Whistle” book review that I recently did, here’s that blog and my other most recent writings:

BCBS For 5/12: The Rangers Get Their Brick in the Wall; NYR Goalies & The Seattle Expansion Draft, AHL Calls It A Season, Why The AHL Doesn’t Effect the NHL During this Corona Virus, Vinni Lettieri, Lundqvist Status & Interview, Sweden Don’t Care, NYR Ticket Refunds & Worth of Season Tix, Michael Jordan & More


BCBS For 5/8: The NYR HOFer & Alumni Update Blog! “The Big Whistle” Bill Chadwick Book Review, Frank Boucher’s HOF Induction Speech, Duguay/Gilbert/Beck Talk, Emile Francis, Teddy Irvine Talks Best NYR Franchise Third Line, Worst Moments in NYR History, Corona Virus Update & More


BCBS For 5/1: The Top Ten Most Hated Opponents in New York Rangers History, Latest Corona Virus/NHL Update & Bettman, Mark Pavelich, Ron Duguay’s Comments, Dan Girardi & M$G Networks Talks, Podcast Wrap-Up, Personal Gordie Howe Story, Pets, Greedy Fanatics & More


BCBS For 4/26: A Complete Dissection & Rundown of the Mats Zuccarello Interview & His Comments on NYR and Lundqvist, Tony DeAngelo Takes a Time-Out, Rod Gilbert Shows Support, The Top Ten Most Hated Men in NYR History & More


BCBS For 4/24: “The All-Time Greats” of New York Rangers History, Latest Corona Virus/NHL Update, The Legacy of the Stanley Cup & The 2020 “Tainted” Detractors, Dolan & CK20 Okay, Domi/Duguay, Boucher/Howe, Zibanejad Trade, Enough of Lias Andersson & More


BCBS For 4/19: Mega Blog Edition! Top 5 Captains in NYR History, Messier vs Cook, DeAngelo’s Donation & NYR Fan Reaction, Latest Corona Virus League Update/Florida, Salary Cap, Trump, Rosen & Micheletti Commentate Porn, The Hank vs Marty Never-Ending Debate, Duguay, Girardi, Talbot, LaFleur & Much More


This past May 15th marked the 94th anniversary of the inception of the New York Rangers. Photo Credit: @NYRAlumni (A great twitter follow for fans who love their Rangers history.)

For regular readers of this website, you know my affinity and interest in history, whether it be American or NY Rangers related. A while back, I read “The Magnificent Rube – Life & Gaudy Times of Tex Rickard” by Charles Samuels, a book which was published way back in January of 1957. I mention the publication date, because Tex Rickard passed away in 1929, meaning that this book was written 28 years after his death.

When it comes to books on Tex Rickard, his third wife, Maxine, wrote a book on her life with Tex, which was published in 1937. That book was called “Everything Happened to Him – The Story of Tex Rickard”.

Title page from Maxine Rickard’s book. Photo Credit: Maxine Rickard / Frederick A. Stokes

In Maxine Rickard’s “Everything Happened to Him – The Story of Tex Rickard” book, there are many first-hand stories told, coming from Maxine’s view. Here’s one of them:

Photo Credit: Maxine Rickard / Frederick A. Stokes

This 1937 book is hard to find. In fact, as I write these words to you, I have only seen one copy floating around on Amazon, for $100. While it is my mission to one day read & review this book, I’ll have to wait for the price to come down!

From the information I’ve gathered about Maxine Rickard’s book, it’s mostly her sharing stories about her life with Tex and what Tex told her, with her co-author, Arch Oboler.

Fast-forwarding all the way to 2012, Colleen Aycock released a book on Tex Rickard, entitled, “Tex Rickard: Boxing’s Greatest Promoter”. Here’s a cover of this book, which is much cheaper and easier to find than Maxine Rickard’s memoirs:

Photo Credit: McFarland

In Aycock’s book, which I have read, all of her history on Rickard’s life, which she doesn’t cover as in-depth as in “The Magnificent Rube”, the book I’m reviewing here now, comes from “The Magnificent Rube”. In Aycock’s book on Tex Rickard, she focuses primarily on Rickard’s career as a boxing promoter. Aycock’s forte is in boxing history, as she has also written a book on boxer Joe Gans, a man Rickard made famous. Furthermore, Aycock’s father was a boxer during the Great Depression, so when it comes to her book on Rickard, she is honing in on the boxing side of things.

Again, while I have only seen snippets of Maxine Rickard’s book, I have read both the 1957 and 2012 books on Rickard. As a hockey fan, historian or even someone looking for an interesting & fascinating tale, for your money and for your time, “The Magnificent Rube” by Charles Samuels is the better book of the two, at least in my opinion. In Samuels’ book, he extensively researched the entire life of Rickard. In addition, Samuels was able to talk to people first-hand, who knew Rickard personally, such as world champion boxer, Jack Dempsey. In Aycock’s case, everyone and anyone that ever knew Rickard, was deceased at the time of her book’s release.

As we move forward from this, don’t take this me as knocking Aycock’s book. Her book is mostly focused on Rickard’s boxing exploits. In Samuels’ book, he just gives you the bigger picture & has first-hand stories. And just like anything else, when it comes to history, as time goes on, sometimes stories get warped. Since Samuels’ book came out first and he was able to talk to people from Rickard’s time, he was closer to the scene than Aycock could ever be.

Of the current NY Rangers alumni, there is no one more interested in Tex Rickard than Ron Duguay himself. I know I use a lot of Duguay stories on this blog, but between his newsworthy Rangers podcast & being actively involved with the Rangers alumni, who better to listen to, than an ex-Ranger in Duguay himself? Photo Credit: @RonDuguay10

Originally, I read “The Magnificent Rube” a while back. I recently read Aycock’s bio on Rickard. However, as mentioned, May 15th marked the 94th anniversary of the NHL granting Tex Rickard the NY Rangers franchise, as an expansion team. After reading the @NYRAlumni tweet pictured above, I saw Ron Duguay talking about Rickard again. Here’s a brief exchange we had on Twitter:

 

The reason I include this tweet today, is because Duguay is 10000000% correct here. If anything, I hope this blog inspires you to do research on Rickard or read “Magnificent Rube” yourself. If you do either of those two things, you will realize that if done right, and in this era where people across the globe are engrossed in documentaries; a movie or mini-series on Rickard would be money & would win a ton of awards.

In his life, appearance wise, Rickard was always known to be dressed well, having a cigar in one hand and having his gold plated cane in the other hand. Aside from a court appearance, Rickard was also known for always wearing a hat, no matter what the occasion. Photo Credit: Unknown

Obviously, my interest in Tex Rickard is rooted in the fact that he was the original owner of the third incarnation of Madison Square Garden & the founder of the New York Rangers. However, in these biographies about Tex Rickard, you only get a sentence in passing about Rickard’s involvement in ice hockey. In fact, in “The Magnificent Rube”, the New York Rangers aren’t even mentioned at all.

For historians, Rickard will never be known for his contributions to ice hockey. The fact of the matter is that Tex Rickard didn’t care about hockey at all, and really, in that time, you couldn’t really expect a man with Texan roots to give two craps about hockey in the early 1900’s. Again, none of Rickard’s involvement in hockey is mentioned in any of these books, which shows you how little hockey meant in the grand scheme of things in Rickard’s life. For the purpose of this blog, I’ll fill in the blanks for you here.

While hockey is barely mentioned in “The Magnificent Rube”, this wound up being one of the better biographies I’ve ever read. Going into the book, I knew that Rickard had a fascinating life, a life that as Ron Duguay said, would be perfect for Netflix.

On an aside, something that truly amazes me, when I look back at all these biographies I’ve read on historical figures, whether it be a President like John Adams, a Founding Father like Benjamin Franklin or even here, with Tex Rickard; is how well traveled these guys were, in a time where traveling was brutal, exhausting, time-consuming, expensive and in some cases, led to sickness & death. In Rickard’s case, he spent significant time in not just NYC, Texas, Nevada, and California – he also spent chunks of his life in South America, Alaska and Africa.

Tex Rickard was known for many things. He was perhaps most famously known for being the promoter of world champion boxer Jack Dempsey. Photo Credit: Alamy

Going into these biographies, and in this case “The Magnificent Rube”, I was hoping to read stories about Rickard’s thoughts and times with the New York Rangers. While I knew boxing would be a prominent topic in the book, I didn’t know there wouldn’t be any hockey talk at all. However, even without any puck talk, this book was absolutely amazing, as it recounted, in-detail, one of the most extraordinary lives that you’ll ever read about.

George Lewis Rickard, born on January 2nd 1870 (or 1871, depending on who you believe, with his mother always giving the 1/2/1871 date) would garner two nicknames during his life. In his childhood and teenage years, he was known as “Dink”, while working for farmers/cattlemen/cowboys. Rickard, who saw his father die at an early age, would be told by his mother that he would have to become the man of the house, while still being a young boy. Rickard would take that responsibility seriously. From that point on, Rickard would hustle for the rest of his life, employing a strong work ethic, both through failure and during success.

At nine years old, Rickard would start seeking employment in Texas. However, prior to moving to Texas, Rickard grew up in Missouri, as the next-door neighbor of the mother of one of the biggest Wild West Outlaw’s of all-time, in Jesse James. In an era where Jesse James was at his most notorious, marshals and lawmen of that time were frequently staking out the residence of Ma James. This led to many gunfights. It also led to the Rickards’ relocating to Texas.

In Texas, and with his birth father now deceased, Rickard would work for a farmer/cowboy type. His new employer was very generous, even giving Mrs. Rickard a $50 bonus, to help out the poor & struggling Rickard family. However, Rickard wouldn’t last too long under the employ of this man, as the man was shot and killed in a saloon, after a stupid bar fight. Rickard was there to see the body, and it wouldn’t be the last time that the young Rickard saw a man draw his last breath.

In his teenage years, Rickard would work up the “cowboy” ladder, taking various jobs before officially earning true cowboy status. During his formative years in this profession, a young Rickard tried to help a man who was injured back to health, as other people in his crew sought medical help. By the time the help got there, this man died beside Rickard. This is when Rickard considered his boyhood over and the day he became a man.

Some of the stories in Rickard’s life felt like an episode of “Deadwood”! Photo Credit: “Deadwood”

In Rickard’s time in life, he would cross paths and work with names such as Wild Bill Hickok, Wyatt Earp and oh yeah, that Teddy Roosevelt guy too! After getting notice from a friend about huge gold finds in Alaska, after a successful stint where he was highly respected as a marshal, Rickard set off for Alaska. The book describes Rickard’s incredible journey, in his quest to become a gold miner. Along the way, Rickard lost one of his best friends, as Rickard’s friend found the trip to be too tough and high-tailed it back home, while in the middle of the freezing temperatures in Alaska. Rickard would never see this man again, as he would be killed in a bar fight at the American/Mexico border, just under a year later. On a side-bar here, it’s amazing how many people were killed in saloon shoot-outs during this time, without any consequences from the law.

While gold mining in Alaska, Rickard would find his biggest enjoyment in life, through gambling. Faro was Rickard’s game, which was a card game as popular as Texas Hold’Em Poker is today. During his stay in Alaska, Rickard became a successful and a degenerate gambler. Rickard would give up the mining to run his own gambling halls. However, Rickard would quickly amass and go through fortunes very quickly, even losing his own casinos through gambling. It was also during this time, that due to his accent, he earned his “Tex” nickname.

As the book suggests, while Rickard is considered the godfather of boxing promoters and was always known to be 100% straight & narrow, he was also very gullible, hence “The Magnificent Rube” title. After leaving Alaska, Rickard was told by a prisoner in Walla Walla, Washington, about a huge diamond mine in South Africa. Despite being a former lawman, Rickard believed this convict and set sail to South Africa with this convict. Eventually, the convict admitted that the diamond mine was all a ruse. Despite the major inconvenience in time, money, traveling and wasted effort, Rickard took the trip in good spirit, even forging a friendship with W.C. Fields & his brother Walter, who both were in Africa at the same time, on vacation. These friendships would be life-lasting.

“The Northern” was a name Rickard used for several of his casinos. He used the name first in Alaska, and later on in Nevada. Photo Credit: Unknown

After returning to America, Rickard wound up in Nevada, where he returned to his first love – gambling. From there, Rickard was the first person to promote boxing to draw tourism. Where boxing is still an incredible seedy business today, it was even seedier in Rickard’s time, as boxing promoters had no issues with boxers throwing fights. In a world where every big boxing match had major stories leading up to it, such as mob involvement, fighters accepting bribes and insane wagering, Rickard was the lone title fight promoter to stay on the even keel. While Rickard was often made fun of for being naive and for always being honest, it was his straight-as-an-arrow reputation, that gained the trust of everyone. In fact, Rickard also spent time as a banker and holding huge sums of money for people, as his reputation was as clean and pure as the driven snow.

In “The Magnificent Rube”, author Charles Samuels meticulously details all of Rickard’s boxing promoting and all the big title fights he put on. Samuels also looks at the race factor in these fights. After putting on the most successful boxing fight of all time, at the time, in Jeffries vs Johnson, Rickard, who did it only to drive money to his casino, decided he wanted to return to his life as a cowboy. From there, Rickard would go to South America, where he would meet and strike up a friendship with another T.R., in Teddy Roosevelt.

Rickard would eventually leave Paraguay and would return to the United States, spending time in different cities. At this point in his life, Rickard gave up the cowboy lifestyle and would spend the rest of his life as a boxing promoter & champion of sports.

After successfully putting on the biggest boxing fights ever and drawing the first ever million dollar gate by promoting Jack Dempsey (a feat he would repeat multiple times) Rickard would eventually call New York City his home, where he remained for the rest of his life. (He also had property in other places, such as Miami, FL, but NY was his primary residence.)

At this time, I would like to share with you some of the pages from “The Magnificent Rube”. Obviously, I didn’t get authorized written consent to share these pictures, but I doubt anyone is going to come after me for sharing pictures from a 63 year old book!

Here you go:
































While this statement from the Woodlawn Cemetery isn’t exactly true, Rickard did win more Stanley Cups than Henrik Lundqvist! Photo Credit: Woodlawn Cemetery

Now known as a successful businessman and a person that made money everywhere he went (even if he lost a ton of fortunes along the way too) Rickard became a prominent figure in the New York City scene. However, because of his elite status, he would also become a target. Rickard would soon find himself alleged of pedophilia. Rickard would eventually be cleared of all charges, especially when it came out that someone tried to extort Rickard for $50,000, in an attempt to make everything go away. When the perpetrator of the extortion told Rickard to pay $50,000 or wind up in jail, Rickard blew this loser off, saying he was innocent & he would have his day in court. And that’s exactly what wound up happening.

As in any era in the history of humanity, pedophilia is the worst crime you can commit. When Rickard was first accused of these crimes, rather than the media-hysteria TMZ world we live in today, and in a world where even if you’re innocent, your name and whatever crime you’re accused of pops up in a Google search, no one believed the charges against Rickard. People from all over the world came to a courtroom in NY, just to defend Rickard’s good name. Rickard also had solid alibis and witnesses who saw him at a football game, when one of the alleged child rapes occurred. Rickard’s name and good reputation was cleared, but this obviously was one of the toughest things for Rickard and his family to endure.

In “The Magnificent Rube”, the author covers all of this and eventually wraps up the book, looking at the end of Rickard’s life. The last topic Charles Samuels looks at, prior to Rickard’s death, is the acquisition of Madison Square Garden.

The House that Rickard built – Madison Square Garden III. Photo Credit: Wikipedia

After hosting several boxing fights at MSG 2, Rickard would eventually get the lease and the rights to Madison Square Garden. Rickard got ownership of Madison Square Garden from The New York Life Insurance Company. New York Life would tear down MSG 2, to build a new office building. At the same time, Rickard built MSG III, at 49th Street & 8th Ave.

Rickard would open the new MSG III in November of 1925. The main draws to the venue were boxing, pro wrestling, bike races and the circus.

At the time, Rickard was offered a chance to purchase an NHL team for New York City. Rickard was quoted as saying something akin to, “I don’t see anyone interested in it and I don’t see how it can make any money.” However, Rickard did install copper pipes into his new venue, which helped with the freezing of ice.

Big Bill Dwyer, a famous bootlegger in his day (check out my “Brooklyn Americans review here: bluecollarblueshirts.com/bkamericans/) wound up purchasing the Hamilton Tigers, from Ontario. Tex Rickard pushed Dwyer into the sale for two reasons. One, Rickard didn’t see any profits in hockey, but he did have an arena where he could profit from someone renting his arena to promote hockey games in. Two, Dwyer, known as a criminal bootlegger, wanted a legit business, not only to help his reputation, but where he could also launder money, if necessary.

Bill Dwyer, original owner of the NY Americans. Photo Credit: SCABard

On December 15th, 1925, the NY Americans (or the Amerks, as they were known as) played the first ever NHL game in NYC at MSG. As part of Dwyer’s rental agreement with Tex Rickard, Rickard would rent out MSG to Dwyer, and in return, Rickard would not form his own team, nor rent out MSG to a competing NHL club. Rickard would go back on that promise in five months time.

This is where it gets really interesting. Throughout Rickard’s life, he had a pristine reputation and was always known for being honest, too honest if you will. Rickard, throughout his entire tenure as a boxing promoter, as a cost of doing business, would also make payoffs to mob figures, police officials and politicians, to ensure his big boxing matches went off without a hitch. That is why it was so out of Rickard’s character here, to not only double-cross Bill Dwyer, but to stab a well renowned criminal & bootlegger in the back, without the fear of any repercussions.

Seeing the success and well-attended houses for Dwyer’s Amerks, Rickard quickly reached out to the NHL and bought an expansion franchise. Due to the nickname of George Rickard and his previous life as a cowboy & as a marshal, the team was unofficially known as the Tex’s Rangers, and officially known as the NY Rangers. Obviously, Dwyer was livid and felt betrayed, but as time went on, he would later have bigger problems in life than ice hockey.

According to all accounts, while Tex Rickard was proud of his hockey team, it never was the focus of his life. With a new young wife and child in tow (his third wife, with two previous wives & children passing away) and his duties with running MSG & boxing, his hockey team was just the equivalent of an impulse toy purchase.

Originally hiring Conn Smythe to run the team (check out my Conn Smythe book reviews, which you can find in the book review tab of this site) Rickard quickly pivoted to Lester Patrick to oversee the club. While it was Conn Smythe that assembled the original Rangers, it was Lester Patrick who made history with them.

Shocker, another cheap plug! You can find a book review on Lester Patrick by clicking the book reviews tab of this site too! Photo Credit: HHOF

While Dwyer & Rickard were never hockey men, it had to kill Dwyer that not only was Rickard profiting from Amerk games, the Amerk franchise was a struggling one. In fact, in their existence (their folding during World War II ushered in the Original 6 Era) the Amerks would never win the Stanley Cup. Making matters worse for Dwyer & better for Rickard, in Year Two of the NY Rangers, the Rangers would win the 1928 Stanley Cup, a topic I’ve talked about to death on this site. (Check the archives.)

Hockey-wise, Rickard would go out a winner, as he would pass away in January of 1929. His funeral was a sight to be marveled at, as it drew people from all over North America. “The Magnificent Rube” gets into everything about Rickard’s funeral.

One of these days, like Ron Duguay did, and as Adam Graves & Rod Gilbert are doing here, I have to go to Woodlawn and pay respect to Mr. Rickard. Photo Credit: NYR

For Ranger fans, Rickard’s legacy will always be as the founder of the NY Rangers. However, Rickard founded the Rangers in the final 2 1/2 years of his life. He also did not found the team for the love of the game, as other hockey owners of his time did. Instead, Rickard founded the Rangers for the pure profit of it all. That doesn’t make him a bad guy or anything like that, but to romanticize Rickard’s legacy or impact with the Rangers would be a pure exaggeration.

In some ways, it kind of shows you what a life Rickard led, as the first owner of a hockey team that still plays hockey to this very day, some 94 years later. Rather than being known for creating the Rangers, historically, Rickard is not really known for his work in pro hockey. The books have already been written. Historians have already weighed in. Rickard will always be known for his contributions to the boxing world, everything else second and then somewhere in the back of the pack, is his “Tex’s Rangers”.

I highly recommend “The Magnificent Rube”. In a way, as you read it, the book sounds too crazy to be true. Not only did Rickard meet many famous men of his time, in addition to traveling all over the world; he was a professional gambler, a gold miner, a cowboy, and took over any room he was in, with his boyish smile & trusting personality.

I know I often complain about people not reading & having short attention spans on this site, and yes, I’m 1000000% aware that I’m an oddball and often in the minority with my passion for history. After all, how many hockey fans do you know that are seeking out books from 60+ years ago?

That said, I know this book isn’t easily available, although you can find limited used copies off of Amazon.com. I know that many people won’t seek out this book, which is why I hope that one day we’ll get a movie or mini-series, dedicated to the life and times of Tex Rickard. With the recent Michael Jordan “The Last Dance” documentary becoming a raving success, if producers want to find the next big sports doc hit, a feature on Tex Rickard could very well be it.


A bit cleaned up here, but this was the original Rangers logo from Rickard’s time. Photo Credit: NYR

That about does it for this look at Tex Rickard. I’ll be back soon with another blog, covering all the latest current events surrounding the NHL and the Rangers.  To get first dibs on the next blog, subscribe by filling out the form below:

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2 thoughts on “The Tex Rickard Blog! “The Magnificent Rube – The Life & Gaudy Times of Tex Rickard” Book Review, Rickard’s Extraordinary Life, Gambling, Gold Mining, Boxing, Impact with the New York Rangers & More on Rickard’s Fascinating Life & Career

  1. Great read Sean. I knew he was a businessman/owner and that our nickname came from Tex’s Rangers but little else. Some really cool stories …. only in New York, right?

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