The Whole Six Yards of It

Bonnie Taylor-Blake b.taylorblake at GMAIL.COM
Tue Nov 13 23:59:30 UTC 2012

On Sat, Sep 8, 2012 at 7:56 AM, Dave Wilton <dave at> wrote:

> Looking through other issues of the paper that are available on Google (I'm
> not sure how much is available to those of you in the States; Google does
> not provide full-view display of many of its texts to those of us north of
> the border), the paper does have a semi-regular feature called "Running 'Em
> Out" by A. G. Keeney (see 5 August 1921 for an example) that serves the same
> function, only giving the detailed account of the game player-by-player
> instead of inning-by-inning. Perhaps Keeney was off that day and someone
> else filled in using a different format. Or perhaps, given that Google only
> displays about 5% of the issues of this paper, the "Whole Six Yards" is a
> regular feature that alternates with Keeney's column, only Google has chosen
> to make available only this one example.

Susan Thoms, of the Spartanburg County Public Libraries, was kind
enough to look at issues (on microfilm) of *The Spartanburg Herald*
from May and June 1921.   (Not wanting to ask too much of her, I had
restricted my request to those two months, figuring we were getting
into baseball season with full force by the end of June.)  Today she
reported that she didn't find another example of "The Whole Six Yards
of It" in the sports section during that period.  That title seems to
have been a one-time thing, at least for those two months.

As Dave indicated above, during that summer A.G. Keeney, who was
sports editor at the time, had authored the semi-regular column
"Running 'Em Out." It's tough to know whether he managed a small staff
of sportswriters or whether he was on his own.  For what it's worth,
though, a semi-regular unattributed column that appeared during May
and June of 1921 went by the title "Looking 'Em Over Here and There,"
which is obviously similar to "Running 'Em Out," so maybe Keeney
sometimes wrote articles that appeared without attribution.

In the end, I guess we may never know who penned "The Whole Six Yards
of It" (or who came up with that title) in the May 7 issue.  On the
other hand, that "The Whole Six Yards of It" appeared without
clarification perhaps suggests that staff at *The Herald* assumed that
readers were familiar with the expression or could figure it out from

By the way, Arthur Gladstone Keeney (1893-1955) was a Spartanburg
native who, after writing for *The Herald*, became a fairly well-known
newspaperman at *The Asheville [NC] Citizen-Times*, *The Washington
[DC] Record*, and *The Florida Union-Times* [Jacksonville].  In 1946,
Charles O. Hearon, then associate editor of *The Herald*, mentioned
that Keeney had been hired way back when for his flair in writing up a
baseball game.

"I was away from the office for a few days, and during my absence an
account of a baseball game, between amateur teams, appeared in the
paper.  When I returned I asked: "Who wrote that story?"  They told me
a young fellow by the name Keeney, teaching at [nearby] Cannon's Camp
Ground.  I sent for him, and that is how Keeney got in the newspaper

Maybe some day we'll be able to identify Keeney as the author of "The
Whole Six Yards of It."  Until then, though, Keeney's probable claim
to fame (among modern audiences) will likely be his role in propelling
a now popular, but untrue anecdote about Winston Churchill and
Alexander Fleming.

-- Bonnie

The American Dialect Society -

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