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March 28, 2010

Baseball Meets Wrestling...Seems Logical

A couple of weeks ago in a story about Bob Uecker being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, I took the high road and steered clear of making a steroids joke when discussing wrestling, baseball and the Hall of Fame.

This week...I'm going to try and do it again since it seems the three of them DO have more in common than just performance enhancing drugs. And no, I won't be going into the whole "this one seemingly allows them" and "this one says they don't" comparison.

Last night in Phoenix, when the WWE inducted "Mr. Baseball" into their Hall of Fame (check out the text of his speech HERE), he bacame the second former Major Leaguer to achieve the honor.

After an eight year hiatus, the WWE relaunched their Hall of Fame to coincide with WrestleMania XX and Pete Rose was inducted by, fittingly, "The Big Red Machine" Kane.

But why are Uecker and Rose in the WWE Hall of Fame?

Uecker served as an announcer for two of wrestling's biggest all-time pay-per-view events (WrestleMania III and IV) and famously got choked out by wrestling legend Andre the Giant.
Rose, on the other hand, did Ueck on better...having appeared at WrestleMania XIV, XV and 2000.

Also taking part and joining Rose in those memorable WrestleMania XV and 2000 appearances was the Famous San Diego Chicken. No word yet if the Chicken (a member of inaugural Mascot Hall of Fame) will be joining fellow bird enthusiast Koko B. Ware in the WWE Hall of Fame.

But the WWE connection with Major League Baseball doesn't end with Uecker, Rose and his feathered friend.

In 2007, baseball Hall of Famer Wade Boggs inducted the late Curt Hennig. The unlikely pairing struck up a friendship after Boggs appeared with "Mr. Perfect" in a 1983 vignette. According to didn't end with just that taped piece.

"We became good friends, hunting and fishing buddies. In fact, he once saved my life while we were hunting in 2001," Boggs said prior to Hennig's Hall of Fame induction in 2007. "I got entangled into a barbed wire fence and was cut pretty badly. It took all the strength Curt had to free me and carry me about a mile back to the truck. He saved my life and has a special place in my heart."

And while most WWE stars (past and present) have a history with professional football, there is at least one whose roots can be traced back to minor league baseball.

Randy Poffo was actually an outfielder who spent parts of four seasons in the low minors before becoming "Macho Man" Randy Savage.

A career .254 hitter in the St. Louis and Cincinnati organizations, his best season was his final one...with the Reds single-A affiliate Tampa Tarpons. Savage, er, Poffo finished third in the league in RBI and tied for fifth in home runs.

The 1974 North Division Champion Tarpons didn't produce any significant Major Leaguers, but the Florida State League that season had a few rising stars...speedster Ron LeFlore, pitchers LaMarr Hoyt and Dennis Martinez and a young Eddie Murray.

Lastly, this past December saw current Major Leaguer Johnny Damon grab the mic as guest host of Monday Night Raw. Now, I'm not an avid RAW watcher, but as one blogger put it, Damon looked "dazed and confused out there...A for effort".

Damon's new team, the Detroit Tigers, are hoping for better results. The WWE, on the other hand, has been taking advantage of the dazed and confused for years.

BallHype: hype it up!

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