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Tony Sheehan: Augusta's hard-luck story

Thumbing aimlessly through the late Clifford Roberts' book, The Story Of Augusta National Golf Club, I happened up on the chapter about Hard-Luck Tony Sheehan, who did a lot of photography for the club.

Roberts seemed to be a man without much of a sense of humor, particularly where slapstick was concerned, but he clearly enjoyed himself in writing about Sheehan. He wrote:

"Tony was an oddball in appearance and dress, and he made comments at times that were just as unusual and unexpected

"Many of us experience accidents as we go through life, but I doubt that any man endured bad luck so often and so continuously for so many years as Tony Sheehan. Every time an epidemic of any kind came to town, Tony was the first to catch it.

"Tony tripped over something and broke one or more bones so often that it almost appeared to be habit. On one occasion, while he was waving to friends, his car plowed into a large stone marker on Walton Way in Augusta, which cost him a number of teeth but gave him some distinctive battle scars on his face.

"In another instance, just after leaving the hospital on crutches, Tony undertook to cross Augusta's Broad Street. As he left the curb his crutches skidded and he fell to the pavement in the gutter. A passerby said to him, ‘Let me help you up.' Tony is said to have replied, ‘No, I think I'll be safer down here.'

"Tony survived a half-dozen major operations, plus numerous patching up jobs. His one lucky day was when he was married to the nurse, Eva Smith, who had looked after him in the hospital so many times that she felt lonesome between visits.

"Tony finally got himself into real serious trouble — his car was hit by a train. Over a year's period the hospital lost track of the number of jobs that had to be done on Tony. Finally, the great day arrived when he could leave. His wife picked him up in her car and headed for home. When they arrived at the railroad track, the same one where Tony was wrecked, he asked her to stop the car.

"He then walked ahead and looked in both directions to make sure no train was approaching. As he was about to signal her that all was clear, he foot slipped off the clutch and she knocked Tony down. Whereupon she picked him up and took him back to the hospital for another stay.

"Believe it or not, our friend Tony Sheehan lived to be 88 years of age, and died of natural causes."

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