Results tagged ‘ Cincinnati Reds ’
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.
Not sure how to really take the news yet. Might be a bit difficult for the next few days, but time and the countless video and tributes popping up on the Web from his countless legions of Nation-wide Baseball buddies and true fans of the game might ease the pain some what by the end of this weekend. For there is no more joy in SoDo, for the mighty enigma that was Junior has taken off his baseball uniform for the last time.
And as a Rays fan, I should hate Ken Griffey Junior and his Seattle Mariners, but they hold a special place in my heart. Seattle is not the city of my birth, but it was the city of my early youth, and a time when Tampa Bay was only a Spring baseball haven. I should hate Griffey Junior and what his Mariners’ team mate accomplished in the mid-1990′s , their insurmountable wins, the playoff fever, and even the final betray.
How many people outside of this two locales remember the bitter in-fighting for control for their lovable Mariners. How many remember the strife and quick search for a corporation to buy this cherished local icon and keep it in the Emerald City. And how incredible it was that a Japanese company that was based on the video game craze came to their rescue, along with emotional pleas from this great giant Junior who wanted the team to stay in this other “city by the bay”.
I could go on for pages and paragraphs for days on the heroics and the accomplishments of this icon of my generation. Be it his diplomatic mission for the United States, or maybe his ventures back to the city of his birth (Cincinnati) that formulated his middle years. It was this region of teal waters and blue skies that he made his mark. It was here in the Pacific Northwest that Griffey Junior moved out of his father’s giant shadow and brought his own flavor and panache to the game of baseball.
Always playing the game like he was still in his teens, even with countless injuries for reasons to slow down and take it easy. But he did not rest, he did not pout, he just threw out that million dollar smile and that splendid swing to take our breath away when we least expected it. Junior always seemed to keep that little boy in him, and that made him respect and honor the game.
I remember seeing him on the Visitor’s bench at Tropicana Field on May 14th and I called to him for an autograph. He looked tired, a bit drained but I told him it was my 50th birthday and the only thing I wanted was the signature of my generational hero. He chuckled and a friend who works in the Visitor’s clubhouse told him I was alright and he came over bouncing like a kid, smiling and happy at the praise that was raining down on him from the stands.
He did me a square solid, and now it is my turn to return the favor of him taking his time out for me. I propose that we, as a MLBlogs.com community unite and cast numerous ballots between now and the end of the voting period for Ken Griffey Junior for the 2010 All-Star game in Anaheim, California. What better way to show the National respect and honor he has shown us than to get him elected to the 2010 American League All-Star game squad.
And this action might not take much more than being a bit more consistent with our voting power between now and the end of the voting period. Junior is already in second place in the American League Designated Hitters spot for the All-Star game, and our critical votes might just boost him into that coveted slot. Some people say that since he has “retired” he cannot be considered for the position, but I have it on great authority that he can still be selected, and accepted onto the squad.
Can you think of another player in the last 10 years who at the end of his career was still not a pleasure to see on a baseball field than Griffey Junior. The guy is a classic example oft he word “sports icon”. He has been graceful, spirited and totally a true ambassador of the game from Day One to the End. I should have a level of hatred or solid reasoning for not liking Junior because of what he did to ruin a chance for us to field a baseball team before 1998.
But I can’t hate a single bone in his body. Can’t find the reasoning or the seasoning to push him into the dark without wanting to see him again on top and get to say a formal goodbye to 30,000+ of my friends in Anaheim during All-Star week. In an era where cheating took a chemical advantage, his name was never mentioned or spoken about. In a time when distrust and hurt feeling centered all out hearts after the baseball strike, he just stepped to the plate and hit.
Junior is my Michael Jordan, he is my Tim Tebow, he has been that force in the game of baseball that seemed to remain pure and rightious for the sake of the game. Griffey Junior to me for so many years was the game of baseball, but the games will still go on without him.
And the American League pitchers’ no longer have to fear him standing in the On-Deck circle. But I think he needs to put that baseball uniform on one more time, just to see how it feels….during the 2010 All-Star game….Batter up!