A most unspectacular quotation-like "Hi there, Johnny" - a note that a boy named Marion wore No.33 as an offensive tackle at Southern Cal. . . any anecdote serves today to brighten the afterglow of John Wayne.
Some of the legend depended on how fate scrambled the ingredients. Sam Baugh had the Texas ranch background, the physique and the leathery countenance to mock the Central Casting concept of what a make-be-lieve cowpoke should look like.
Geographically misplaced George Preston Marshall had been just enough of a "ham" as a walk-in actor to have imagined a cowboy image for Baugh.
A showman of the anything-to-get-the-hicks-in-the-ballpark stripe, who later spent parts of every year in Hollyeoof, Marshall ordered Baugh to wear boots and a Stetson to Washington as a publicity hype after drafting the All-America from Texas Christain, and made certain he wore jersey No 33 from ther.
Besides the handicap of Washington being 2,400 miles from Hollywood, a voice that didn't boom and a personality that didn't quite zoom, Baugh had too much football talent to start where Wayne did, even if he had had notions about a film career.
Not that Baugh was against the art from. He liked to watch what he calls "shoot-'em-ups," while Wayne was hungry to make them, having known the oblivion of a film extra after an aborted carrer as an athlete. Baugh was to create his own legend with the Reoskins.
Nick Pappas, associate director in charge of athletic funding at USC, has been there since 1934 and is hard pressed these days for the most trivial source material about former student Marion Morrison who later became known as John Wayne.
Football did donate to the American horse opera that globally recognized rickety, toed-in stagger of Wayne into shootouts.
It came from a broken leg he suffered on the 1925 frosh squad at USC. Less known is that he also suffered a crushed shoulder in a scrimmage, in a supporting role, as a blocker.
He was the "sweetheart of SigmaChi," as Pappas puts it.
Fraternity brother Pappas recalls arriving at a hotel in Austin, Tex., for the Trojans' opener against the Langhorns in 1964.
"I got a call from Wayne's office in Hollywood," Pappas related, "saying he had just checked into our headquarters and wanted to kenow what time the 'party' was that night. He was on his way to make a film in Mexico.
"I remember him coming into our suite with that great walk of his. I tried to drink with him; it was impossible I got to bed at 4 a.m. Yet I got a call from him at breakfast time. He reminded me that I had promised to arrange for him to talk to the team. Fortunately, (coach) John McKay was an early riser, and he had a habit of watching Wayne's movies on the late, late show.
"I told McKay I was sorry I made the promise, but he said, 'Great, bring him to the players' brunch.'
They had never met, but Wayne walked right over to McKay and said with that disarming voice of his, 'Hi there, Johnny.' McKay said, 'Hi, Duke.' They hit it off right away.
"Wayne gave the players a Southern Cal and 'Americanism' speech. It went over big. Wayne wore a black suit and a 900-gallon hat to the game. A couple years before Texas had made him an honorary member of the student body.
"The Longhorn fans have that 'Hook 'em, Horns' gesture with the index and little fingers. We (USC) used the 'V for victory' sign.
"During the game Wayne walked over to the Texas rooters, made the 'V' sign and shouted, 'You're going to lose today!' They couldn't understand him in the noise and gave him a big hand about three times. The climax came after we won, 10-6, and Wayne came into our dressing room just as the players were presenting McKay the game ball.
"McKay looked up, saw Wayne, and gave the game ball to him. Duke loved it.
"I recently found a football program dated Nov.7, 1925, for a 10 a.m. game between the USC frosh and LaVerne College that was to be played before the varsity game between USC and Santa Clara. 'Marion Morrison, offensive tackle,' was listed as No.33.
"I have asked the captain of that USC varsity, Nate Barragar, about Wayne's football potential as a freshman and he said that if Duke had remained healthy he would have made the varsity eventually. He was 6 feet 5 and 200 pounds." CAPTION: Picture, Sammy Baugh did a switch on the John Wayne story. The Washington Post