After learning of Larry Eisenhauer’s death today veteran sportswriter Leigh Montville nailed it when he observed, “Ike was Gronk before Gronk.”
Pats fans didn’t just like Larry Eisenhauer they LOVED him. For the former BC standout was a great player as an AFL All-Star defensive end, a genuine character, a successful businessman off the field and the life of any party or gathering he graced. Ike brought passion and joy to every pursuit and was a proud member of the underdog Boston Patriots of the AFL from 1961 to 1969.
So many stories. One of the best was the time the Patriots were in San Diego preparing for the 1963 AFL championship game and were headquartered in a hotel that boasted of a very sixties Don Draper-esque rooftop duplex bar that had a swimming pool, complete with bathing beauties swimming in synchronized fashion to entertain patrons. After a few beers following practice, Eisenhauer and his dad, who’d flown in from Long Island to watch his son in the big game, left their barstools and had soon stripped to their boxer shorts and had replaced the bathing beauties in the pool. All to the delight of their teammates and other bar customers.
I remember him arriving at a Sports Museum reception hosted by Billy Sullivan and newly crowned Pats owner Robert Kraft in 1993. Peals of laughter arose when Ike made a grand entrance clad in the garish scarlet colonial theme sport coat and felt tri-corner hat Sullivan had made his players wear for a banquet some forty years earlier. The fact it still fit was pretty amazing as Ike stood at 6’5″ with a playing weight of 265. As always, he was the life of the party.
I hope that he either wrote down or recorded his many wild tales as he was one of the very best storytellers I’ve ever met. I regret not being wise enough to have asked him if he’d have been willing to allow me to record them.
Raise a toast to The Wildman.
Beloved and fondly remembered.