BAT MASTERSON AND THE NEW YORK MORNING TELEGRAPH

Bartholomew “Bat” Masterson (aka William Barclay Masterson) gained fame as a lawman on the wild and wooly American Western frontier, albeit he was born (probably in 1853) in Henryville, Quebec, Canada, but raised mostly in Kansas on a farm.

As a young adult, Masterson was a gambler, buffalo hunter, Army scout, saloonkeeper, and lawman. In Dodge City, Kansas and Tombstone, Arizona, Masterson became a close friend of Wyatt Earp, who is arguably the most recognized lawman of the old American West, owing to 19th century dime novels, the 1955-1961 television series The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp (starring Hugh O’Brian), and a couple of full-length movies. Like Earp, Masterson also had two brothers who were lawmen in Dodge City.

Masterson’s first shootout occurred in 1876 in Sweetwater (Wheeler County), Texas, and his last shootout was in 1881 in Tombstone, Arizona. Masterson was not the pure hero depicted by most writers, as his activities included being on both sides of the law at various times. Masterson reportedly killed at least a dozen men in gunfights, but he never confirmed that number.

From 1905-1907, Masterson was a deputy U. S. marshal in southern New York state, appointed by President Theodore Roosevelt. Subsequently, he took up a career as a writer and eventually became a columnist and the sports editor for the daily New York Morning Telegraph, which was founded in 1897. Masterson died at his desk of a heart attack in 1921.

The New York Morning Telegraph billed itself as “America’s Oldest Authority on Motion Pictures, Theatre, and Turf.” In 1971, The Morning Telegraph became the Eastern Edition of the Daily Racing Form.

From 1958-1961, Gene Barry played Masterson in the television series Bat Masterson. He was also depicted in movies by actors Randolph Scott, George Montgomery, Joel McCrea, and Tom Sizemore.

The prominent names that one associates with the Morning Telegraph or the Daily Racing Form include Charles Hatton, Joe Hirsch, Steve Crist, and others. They are all descendants, so to speak, of a renowned larger-than-life character from the Old West turned sports writer.

Copyright © 2013 Horse Racing Business

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