Restoring the Giants Mojo

by John Delach

This story happened at the Greenbrier Hotel in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia a world class golfing resort and spa set in the Allegheny Mountains. After a rough spell in the early 80s, my company’s fortunes took off with senior managers being invited to attend annual conferences at this resort. I recall one colleague’s reaction to this news: “It has always been one of my goals in life to stay at the Greenbrier on someone else’s dime!”


From 1987 until 1995 we attended nine conferences at this swell facility. Most years, the event began on Monday morning and ended on Friday. Our firm was enlightened enough to make Thursday afternoons free time allowing the great majority to golf on one of The Greenbrier’s three exquisite 18-hole courses.


Being an absolutely miserable duffer, I didn’t need to suffer the embarrassment that would surely accompany any attempt to challenge these links so I tried tennis the first few years unenthusiastically but I always made an appointment for the spa even if that meant cutting tennis short. Without question my favorite part of the treatment was the massage that concluded the spa experience. The sulphur baths were the low point as they were just plain smelly and did nothing to enhance my mood or physical well-being.


Naturally, different masseuses brought their own talents and approaches to their craft and over the years I received superb treatment by both men and women that left me loose, relaxed and at as much peace as was humanly possible.


Then there was 1993. Fortune introduced me to a short fellow with powerful arms and hands who introduced himself as Chet. We made small talk as Chet went to work. I learned he was a Mountaineer, a native-born West Virginian and true to his size and rough appearance, had once been a coal miner. I mentioned that I was from New York; the conversation went on – then from out of nowhere – he noted, “I worked on the Giants’ coach last year. That’s right, he was at the hotel and I worked on him.”


“Really,” I replied. “Do you remember his name? Was it Ray Hanley? – The Giants previous the head coach.


“No, I don’t think so.” He paused, thought about it then floored me as he continued. “No, he just said he was the coach but that’s not his name. I remember him though because he stiffed me. I paid him back though. I’m part Cherokee and I put a curse on him and the team. They will not have success as long as the curse is on them.”


My head spun with what I just heard. Chet couldn’t know how long I had been a season ticket holder, that the Giants had finished with a 6-10 record in 1992 and that Hanley and his staff had all been fired.


Instinctively, I wanted to ask him how much he’d want to lift the curse but I sensed that this would only make the situation worse. I had to be more nimble.


The massage ended and after I dressed, Chet returned with his personal log hand-written in a copy book. He pointed to a name revealing the culprit to be Rod Rust. Rod Rust, I thought to myself, not only did his “read and react” defense suck, he screwed all of us by being a cheapskate.


I put a good tip on the spa bill, standard practice at The Greenbrier, hustled to an ATM and withdrew a like amount in cash. I sealed it in an envelope and returned to the spa, asked for Chet and waited for him.


When he reached reception, I walked over, gave him the envelope, looked him in the eye and said, “Chet, this is to make up for the shabby treatment you received.” I shook his hand and walked away.


It took awhile but the Giants went on to three more Super Bowls winning two.