Pass the Nuts by Dan Coughlin

Gray & Company, Publishers

Pass the Nuts by Dan Coughlin
Sample | Larger Cover

Pass the Nuts

More Stories About The Most Unusual, Eccentric & Outlandish People I've Known in Four Decades as a Sports Journalist

by Dan Coughlin

  • Softcover, 262 pages, 5.5 x 8.5 inches
  • ISBN: 978-1-59851-073-7
A trove of tales—some poignant, even tragic; many hilarious. — Akron Beacon Journal

Dan Coughlin serves up a second rollicking collection of stories about colorful characters and memorable events from his four decades covering sports for Cleveland TV and newspapers.

Meet the gun-toting fanatics of Morgana Park—once home of “the most intense slow pitch softball league in the world.” Sit in on a star-studded night in the legendary Theatrical Restaurant alongside Don King while Coughlin flips a coin for a $500 bar tab with Ted Turner. Ride along on a series of death-defying, top-priority helicopter trips to report on . . . high school football.

Reading Coughlin's stories is like dipping into a bowl of bar nuts—easy to start and hard to stop!

Illustrations: 12 black-and-white photographs

A trove of tales—some poignant, even tragic; many hilarious. All of them reveal Coughlin's unique perspective from more than 40 years in sports journalism. — Akron Beacon Journal
Coughlin not only lived these wild stories but has the ability to tell them so well that you can almost smell the stale beer and cigar smoke as you read them . . . you will feel sad when you turn the last page. —
This book is fun. Full stop. Filled with stories of Cleveland sports history, local media nuggets and a dash of drinking shenanigans, “Pass the Nuts” was quite simply a bunch of fun to read . . . The chapters breeze by, whether they're about LeBron James or about Dan fighting a whip-wielding bar tender. — Ben Blog
Who better to share so much knowledge about the world of Cleveland amateur and professional sports than Dan Coughlin? His new book is a wonderful collection to take Cleveland fans back down memory lane. — Sun News-All Sun
Final tally: 18 Laughs out loud, 28 guffaws, 16 snickers. What a fun read! — WJW FOX 8 TV
Pass the Nuts: More Stories About The Most Unusual, Eccentric & Outlandish People I've Known in Four Decades as a Sports Journalist, by Dan Coughlin
Table of Contents
  • Introduction
  • Mike Cleary: Fired by Steinbrenner
  • Harry Leitch: Life Was a Party
  • Jack Lengyel: He Tormented Everyone
  • Gene Hickerson: Elvis Took His Calls
  • Dick Schafrath: Can't Turn Down a Challenge
  • Morrie Kono: 20-20 IQ
  • Creighton Miller: Notre Dame's Free Spirit
  • Come to Miami, Bring a Gun
  • Cousin Tommy Coughlin: Hurricane Warnings
  • Brian Dowling: A Living Legend
  • Break the Story First
  • Friday Night Fever
  • Rats Nest Corners and Other Fantasies
  • Denny Marcin: Never Out of Work
  • Kevin Mackey: The Great Recruiter
  • Al McGuire: Self-Confessed Con Man
  • Anne Hayes: Queen of the Horseshoe
  • Ken Carpenter: Couldn't Hold a Job
  • Name's the Same: Who Are These Guys?
  • LeBron James: No Names, Please
  • Dave Plagman: Runaway Train
  • John Lowenstein: Model of Consistency
  • Bob Cain: Pitched to a Midget
  • Richie Scheinblum: Hit for Reverse Cycle
  • Bob Roberts: Nude Beaches and the Derby
  • D'Arcy Egan: Catch and Release
  • Les Levine: Voice of Truth and Reason
  • Harry Caray: Four Horsemen Rode Again
  • Ken Coleman: Loyal to an Old Friend
  • Bambi Gone Berserk: Overrun with Deer
  • Punxsutawney Phil's Untimely Demise
  • Cats and Rats: Hold Your Breath
  • Willie Mays and 3.2 Beer
  • The Theatrical: Characters Welcome
  • The Blue Fox: Under Siege by the FBI
  • Mike Carney: A Bullet Saved His Life
  • Lakewood Village: Home of the Calder Cup
  • Buddy Langdon: Memories Forever
  • Chuck Webster: At the Beginning
  • Sluggers: They Ruined the Game
  • Sunday Slow Pitch: A Bad Team
  • Chester Meats: Bull Held Hostage
About Dan Coughlin
Dan Coughlin

Dan Coughlin has covered Cleveland sports for more than four decades, as a sportswriter for The Plain Dealer (1964-1982) and on WJW-TV 8 (since 1983). His columns also appeared in the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram, Medina Gazette, Lake County News-Herald, Painesville Telegraph and other newspapers. He was twice named Ohio sportswriter of the year and was honored with an Emmy award. He traveled with the Browns and Indians, and covered some of the biggest college football games of the 20th century, including five major bowl games. He was at ringside for several world championship fights as well as the Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier series. He covered 17 Indianapolis 500s and several auto races in Europe. He lives in Rocky River, Ohio. More About Dan Coughlin

Question & Answer with the author...
Q: Why did you write a second book, only 12 months after your first book hit the stores?

A: I thought a year was long enough to save up another 15 bucks. Besides, there were some complaints about the first book.

Q: Complaints? Who complained? It was a neighborhood best seller.

A: Actually, people complained that I left out some great characters. In Pass the Nuts, I tried to pick up where my first book, Crazy, With the Papers to Prove It, left off.

Q: It's hard to believe you came up with dozens more eccentric people. Who are some of the great characters in the new book?

A: They're not all well known. Take Harry Leitch, for example. Most people are saying, “Harry who?” He was the spotter for Bill McColgan and Gib Shanley on Browns radio broadcasts in the 1950s, '60s and '70s. The spotter is a second or third set of eyes in the broadcast booth. Harry's eyes usually were bloodshot. On one trip Browns PR man Nate Wallack asked Harry what his hotel bar tab was. “I don't know,” said Harry. “But my ice bill was $300.” And that is just the tip of the iceberg about Harry Leitch.

Q: I see you have chapters on Gene Hickerson and Dick Schafrath. What insights do you share about them?

A: Hickerson might have been the greatest pulling guard in football history because he was so fast. He could lead Jim Brown and Leroy Kelly around the corner on the famous Browns' sweep. Hickerson loved classical music, but he also was personal friends with Elvis Presley.

When people scoffed and said, “You don't know Elvis Presley,” Gene would say, “Call this number.” He'd give them a phone number to call and Elvis would answer. “Let me talk to Gene,” Elvis would say.

Q: And Schafrath?

A: Possibly the craziest guy who ever played for the Browns. He ruined his football career when he accepted a challenge to run non-stop from Cleveland Stadium to his high school field in Wooster, Ohio. Sixty miles. His legs never recovered. Later Schafrath decided to paddle across Lake Erie in a canoe. His first two attempts failed. The canoe sank, but he eventually made it. His next project was to ride a horse across Ohio, following the Pony Express mail route of the 1800s. Non-stop, of course. Periodically, switching to a fresh horse.

Q: You've got a chapter on a fellow named Mike Cleary who was the first guy George Steinbrenner ever fired.

A: He was the general manager of Steinbrenner's pro basketball team in 1961. Read the book for how it gets complicated. Let me just say, the NBA extended an invitation to George Steinbrenner's Cleveland Pipers basketball team to join the NBA in 1962 but it never happened because George's father would not give him the money for the entry fee. Imagine the scenario. If George was in the NBA, he might never have bought the Yankees.

Q: What about Kevin Mackey, the old Cleveland State basketball coach?

A: You remember that Kevin Mackey got Cleveland State into the Sweet 16 of the 1986 NCAA basketball tournament and a few years later got CSU on probation and then was fired for alcoholism and drug abuse. When Casey Coleman and I announced CSU games on television, we would close those little Holiday Inn lounges with Kevin in those little college basketball towns. We would drink beer with Kevin until they blinked the lights. Years later Kevin was arrested, I was shocked. Kevin had a problem? I never knew that. Didn't everybody drink until the bartender pleaded to go home?

Q: You also write about some of your favorite bars. Can you give us one or two?

A: The Theatrical Grille on Short Vincent. The agent Ed Keating ran up a monthly bar bill there of $1,500 while cooking up some major deals. Every night about ten o'clock the great raconteur Dick Lamb walked in the front door and in a loud, gravelly voice, declared: “Gentlemen, Start your engines.”

The Blue Fox, which had the best food on the west side. Bookies and gamblers hung out there. The FBI raided it and shut it down on the Monday after the Super Bowl in 1984. That's where I took my wife on our first date.

Q: You've got chapters on old Indians outfielders John Lowenstein and Richie Scheinblum. Why do they stand out?

A: Back in the seventies when the Indians paid their players next to nothing, Lowenstein got a part time job shoveling manure at the Cleveland Zoo. Something about that seems appropriate.

When Scheinblum was in spring training with the Indians, he hit for a reverse cycle. He was thrown out at each base in the same game.

Q: Are there any serious stories?

A: A couple actually. I write about Brian Dowling, the best high school football player I ever saw. There's also a chapter on Lee Walczuk, a great basketball player. I also write about covering high school football for The Plain Dealer and later Fox 8 in the helicopter and some softball stories too. The book is a real mix.

Price and Availability

Pass the Nuts ($14.95 / softcover / 264 pages) is available at Northeast Ohio bookstores. It is also available online from and as both print and e-book editions.

Other books by Dan Coughlin:


Browse Books