We Will Miss You Macho (Baseball) Man
He was known World-wide for his flamboyant neon-colored clothing and cowboy hats. His trademark sunglasses and speech patterns that made him seem more constipated than ferocious, but that was the “business side” of Randy “Macho Man” Savage that most of the public got to see in and around his second home, the wrestling ring.
When I heard on the radio today that Savage had been involved in a 1-car accident and had been pronounced deceased at a local hospital, immediately I went back to a day almost 30 years ago when I met Savage for the first time.
I had grown up hanging around and working with some of the Florida wrestling hierarchy’s kids like Gordon Solie’s son and had attended Dixie Hollins with Bruce Woyan who would become Buzz Sawyer. It was Woyan who took me backstage one night and I got to meet Macho Man sans the bravado and brightly colored clothing.
Even back in the 80’s I always seemed to be sporting a baseball cap upon my head. During this day it was a cap which had the St. Petersburg Cardinals logo and Savage immediately began to smile and began to tell me about his former baseball career. I could see a slight twinkle in his eye remembering his minor leagues days while I was stuck in the classrooms at Dixie during the double shifts of school.
But I was entranced with his story and could hear the passion and enthusiasm in his voice. Sometimes you just wonder what could have been if……. It was a long stretch of time between our meetings when I saw him again at a Rays game wearing all black including a black head scarf but with the trademark facial hair and bold bravado.
We had both aged kind of gracefully, but you could tell wrestling took its toll on Savage over the years. I told a person sitting next to him a bit about Savage’s minor league career and he gave me a small grin. Funny, I had seen him in the ring for what seemed like hundreds of times either in person or on television, and my thoughts always came back to if I heckled him as a St. Pete Cardinals fans in the early 70’s.
If I had not worn that Cardinals cap, I possibly would have never known that Savage, who at that moment made a living throwing himself off turnbuckles towards concrete floors could hit the round ball. I would never have found out that this mega-star wrestler was once a 2-time All State baseball player back in Ohio who held his alma mater’s baseball record after sporting a .524 batting average.
Way before the lovely Miss Elizabeth, his space-age sunglasses and even snapping into a Slim Jim, Savage was known simply as Randy Poffo, who was a young Outfielder/Catcher First Baseman that wandered around the bus circuit leagues with teams like the Cardinals, Cincinnati Reds and Chicago White Sox.
Who besides his childhood friends and family would have been able to imagine his hidden passion for the little white roundball. Just goes to show you that an athlete is an athlete no matter the sport.
Even though Savage/Poffo never got above the Class A level in the sport, he did spend time in St. Petersburg, Tampa and Orangeburg South Carolina. In his 4 years in the minors, Savage hit 16 Home Runs and also managed 16 triples. Goes to show you he had a little abundance of power to go along with a good base running speed.
His best minor league stop might have been his last with the Tampa Tarpons (class A/ Reds) during the 1974 season. With the Tarpons he appeared in 113 games stepping to the plate 521 times and sported a .622 OPS along with 66 RBIs and 19 doubles. He once played with former Cardinal OF Tito Landrum on the 1973 Orangeburg Cardinals Western Carolina League squad.
Always get to me when someone I met, even for a brief moment is taken from us. It is also at moments like this that you find out small hidden gems about a person you wish the World had known all along.
Savage had a passion for the game of baseball, I can easily envision Savage standing in line at the pearly gates possibly bending the ear of recently parted Twins great Harmon Killebrew speaking enthusiastically about the game. Possibly Savage can again relive some of his baseball glory. Just remember Macho Man, there is no rushing the mound in Heaven. Godspeed Randy Mario Poffo.