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April 3, 2011

Wrestling Meets Baseball

Growing up, I was always excited this time of year.  It meant two things 'round my house...Opening Day of baseball and Wrestlemania.

And in a few hours...we'll be two for two.

Last year at this time, when Bob Uecker was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, I took the high road and steered clear of making the obvious steroids jokes when discussing wrestling, baseball and the Hall of Fame.

Tonight (in an encore presetation of a post from last year at this time), 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.

When the WWE inducted "Mr. Baseball" into their Hall of Fame (check out the text of his speech
HERE), he became the second former Major Leaguer to achieve the honor.

It's true.

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?

You see, 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 one 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 in the WWE's hallowed halls. 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 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.

Since the WWE implemented the "Raw" guest host in the summer of 2009, there have been two that have had ties to baseball.

Last spring...the aforementioned Rose welcomed fans to the HP Pavilion in San Jose and prior to that, Johnny Damon took center stage (ring?) when he grabbed the mic in Tampa.

You would think that given the history of both sports and the connection that they share, there would be more crossover and if you ask me...they're missing the mark by not including MLB stars.  I mean, consider this...a month before the new season, it wasn't Albert Pujols (or even, God help us, Ryan Theriot) hosting "WWE Raw".

Who was it?



And if you're looking to enjoy WrestleMania 27 tonight for free on the web, hit up  Just make sure you throw it's proprietor Robert a buck or two.

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