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Tidy Hackett; A Battler Who Won While Losing
By Larry McMullen
Trentonian Sports Columnist

Tom "Tidy" Hackett was Irish-Catholic, a South Philadelphian and a fighter. There is no significance in that listing. They all mean the same thing, anyway.
Most of his early fighting was done in a ring. Tidy was an amateur boxer and he won a lot of gold watches.
His South Philly buddies called him Tidy because he was an impeccable dresser. If you were going to be a dandy in those rowdy South Philly days, it was important to know how to fight.
Tidy wouldn't recognize the neighborhood now. The kids on the corner have long hair, they wear white sneakers or sandals and they smell pretty. And these are the boys. But that's another story.
Tidy's fighting days weren't over when he quit the ring. For the rest of his life, the weapons he used weren't his fists and the prizes were always more valuable than gold watches.
Tidy got married and he and his wife had five girls. Tidy was a dreamer, he was full of Irish blarney and he had a devil of a time understanding his family or getting them to understand him. And then one of the girls died before she was two years old.
Tidy drifted from job to job and he went through a few jousts with the bottle. Life had Tidy on the floor and the count was at eight.
He went to live by himself for a few years and it was like a spiritual retreat. Tidy fought himself close in, dirty fighting, everything goes. It made a joke of Greatest Fights of the Century.
Tidy came out of hiding cleansed. He returned to Mother Church. He returned to his family.
He was past fifty now and a lot of his youthful exuberance was gone. It was ironic that Tidy's biggest battle lay before him.
First, he had to somehow heal the scars of the bitter years that had gone before. It is a difficult thing for an ordinary man to do. Tidy, like most of us, had trouble communicating his feelings. He went at it the only way he knew how.
He got a job and went to work every day. He gave up drinking completely. To his grandchildren, he was Pop-Pop, an irresistible tease and a constant delight.
And now it was time for Tidy's last fight. He was struck down by the Big C, by cancer.
The doctors said Tidy had run out of time. They couldn't know that Tidy wasn't the kind of fighter to be knocked out by one punch.
He wasn't a stoic about it. You don't get that way with Irish blood and a South Philadelphia heritage. Tidy went down hard. At one point, when the pain and become particularly unbearable, Tidy clawed his way out of the haze, bolted upright in his hospital bed and whispered, "God, leave me alone."
It wasn't to be and Tidy knew it. But there was no way he was going down without registering a protest. 
You stopped counting the times the doctors said the end had come. Tidy had a lot of prayers said over him before he was through.
Tidy finally died. It wasn't in vain. Through the long vigil, through the heartache and pain, Tidy regained all of the love and respect of his family.
It was important to me because he was my wife's father and my children's grandfather. For an ordinary man, he left them an extraordinary legacy.
It was like Tidy that even in losing, he won.

[[image- 4 vertical bars]]

October 18   8 P.M.
Don't miss the opening game of the World Champion 76ers basketball team tomorrow night as it plays its first game in the spacious, comfortable Spectrum against the hot-shot Lakers. Alex Hannum's team is raring to go to prove to the rest of the basketball world that it can do all over again what it did last season.
[[image- 76ers logo]]

October 19   8 P.M.
The beauty and brutality of mayhem on ice springs to life at the great new Spectrum two nights from now when the Flyers Hockey Club makes its debut at home in the ferocious National Hockey League against cross-state rivals, the Pittsburgh Penguins.
[[image- Flyers logo]]

November 6-12
A very special attraction at the Spectrum this fall will be the Moscow State Circus, coming direct from Russia as part of the cultural exchange program. Bringing along horses, whose riders are truly magnificent, agile, deft and daring; performing bears; dogs that "can do everything" including "read" and "count"; carpet clowns who are masters of pantomime; an unbelievable magician who, among other tricks, makes a girl disappear before your eyes to be replaced by a roaring lion.
[[image - clown sketch]]

November 19   2 P.M.
The Spectrum will be the scene of another spectacular on Sunday, November 19, at 2 P.M. when the fabulous Regimental Band of the Welsh Guards joins forces with the Pipes, Drums and Highland Dancers of the Scots Guards to present a pageant of marching, music and dancing.
[[image - sketch of man playing bagpipes]]

December 27, 28, and 30
The Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference field brings together the top teams in college basketball. Vying for the championship of the Quaker City Tourney will be local Big 5 representatives - Temple, Penn and Villanova - and visitors Arizona, Wisconsin, Duquesne, Providence and St. Francis of Loretta, Pa.
[[image - sketch of basketball player and ball]]

January 15-21
Figure skating stars from north, south, east and west will gather at the Spectrum in January to decide the 1968 champions of the U.S.A. The eyes of the entire figure skating world will be focused here during the competitions since the title event also will serve as trials for the 1968 Olympics.
[[image - sketch of 2 figure skaters]]

February 11-18
Called America's No. 1 Family Show and an old Philadelphia favorite, Ice Capades comes to the Spectrum in February. This marks its 18th straight year before Philadelphia audiences. The shifting of its usual fall dates for a February run is sure to highlight the winter season with such outstanding stars as the Jelineks - Otto and Maria - the greatest pair skaters in the world delighting the fans.
[[image - sketch of figure skater]]

Please note that the language and terminology used in this collection reflects the context and culture of the time of its creation, and may include culturally sensitive information. As an historical document, its contents may be at odds with contemporary views and terminology. The information within this collection does not reflect the views of the Smithsonian Institution, but is available in its original form to facilitate research. For questions or comments regarding sensitive content, access, and use related to this collection, please contact