Showing posts with label WWE. Show all posts
Showing posts with label WWE. Show all posts

Monday, September 12, 2016

Ryback's athletic roots trace back to baseball

With his hulking figure manning the third base coach’s box, WWE superstar Ryback appeared to be out of place at MCU Park in Brooklyn; however, the current Intercontinental Champion couldn’t have been more at home than on the baseball field. Ryback, aka Ryan Reeves, played baseball in college at the College of Southern Nevada, the alma mater of Washington Nationals star Bryce Harper, before a leg injury derailed any hopes for him following in the family trade.

“That was the first real skill I learned sport wise as a kid growing up coming from a baseball family,” Ryback said at MCU Park.

Ryback at MCU Park / N. Diunte

His baseball lineage is traced to his mother’s side, as both his maternal grandfather and uncle played in the major leagues. His grandfather Ebba St. Claire was a catcher for the Boston Braves in the 1950s, and his uncle Randy St. Claire pitched for five major league teams in nine seasons. Ironically there was a family connection for Ryback at MCU Park, as New York Mets Hall of Famer John Franco who was also in attendance, was his uncle’s teammate in 1988 with the Cincinnati Reds.

Ryback was at the home of the Brooklyn Cyclones as part of MCU’s Second Annual Civil Servant / Celebrity Softball Challenge, which benefited WFAN’s morning radio show host Craig Carton’s Tic Toc Stop Foundation. While fans wanted to see Ryback relive his old glory and swing for the fences, his recovery from a recent injury and preparation for Sunday’s SummerSlam limited him strictly to coaching duties.

“Unfortunately with SummerSlam around the corner, just coming back from a serious staph infection, and having shoulder surgery years ago, Sunday is where my focus is at. Coming out today, showing face, and letting all the kids have a good time out here today is all in the name of a good cause.”

*Note - This piece originally ran in August 2015 on Examiner.com

Saturday, May 21, 2011

'Macho Man' Randy Savage remembered by his baseball teammate Tito Landrum

Before there was a "Macho Man," Randy Savage was known better as Randy Poffo, an aspiring baseball player beating the bushes trying to get to the major leagues. Poffo was an outfielder, catcher, and first baseman in the St. Louis Cardinals and Cincinnati Reds organizations from 1971-1974.

The former WWF and WCW World Champion died tragically on Friday, May 20, 2011, in an auto accident in Florida. He was a beloved figure in the arena of professional wrestling, known for his trademark "Oooh yeah!" that he would exclaim during his colorful interviews.

Tito Landrum & 1973 Orangeburg Cardinals Program
Playing for the Orangeburg Cardinals in 1973, the 20-year-old Savage was a teammate of a fresh faced rookie outfielder, Tito Landrum, playing together under the tutileage of Jimmy Piersall. Landrum enjoyed a nine-year career in the majors, winning a World Series with the Baltimore Orioles in 1983 and appeared in the 1985 World Series filling in brilliantly for an injured Vince Coleman.

Landrum, during an interview from his physical therapy practice Friday evening, recalled Poffo showing off his wrestling skills while he was still active as a ballplayer.

"We actually played a little bit in St. Petersburg and that's when I remember coming in the clubhouse and him making these mock rings," Landrum said. "He would get in there with some of the other players and they would do these little wrestling choreographed shows for us and it was always quite entertaining."

While Poffo wasn't a surefire prospect, Landrum remembered the same spirit that he displayed on the field that followed him into his long career as a wrestler.

"Randy was a very intense individual in baseball," he said. "I remember Randy being pretty good offensively and defensively. We just had some guys in front of him that he wasn't going to move anywhere. He didn't have the best athletic ability, but he certainly had the most qualified heart that I've ever seen. He just knew he was going to make it big somehow, someway. Of course he didn't make it in baseball, [but] he saw another avenue and he made it."

Landrum relayed another story about his travels with Poffo in the minor leagues. The two were roommates and would jokingly dispute about who owed for last month's rent.

"We actually roomed together in Orangeburg and every time we saw each other, we'd always in front of friends make a big deal about who owed who for the last month's rent," he recalled. "To be honest with you, right down to this day I couldn't tell you if I owed the last month's rent or he owed the last month's rent. I got moved up so I probably owed him, so we'd always make a joke of that."

Years later, Landrum had the opportunity to see Poffo perform at the peak of his wrestling career live and in person. There was one problem, Landrum didn't know of Poffo's Macho Man persona.

"Of course we moved on and all of a sudden one day I got this message to see him at a wrestling match," he said. "I was like, Who is this 'Macho Man?' I didnt know any 'Macho Man.' Then they told me it was Randy Poffo! I just had to go see Randy, so we hooked up there."

Watching Poffo as a professional in his second life as a wrestler left Landrum with wonderful memories of his former teammate. He relished the thought of Poffo's performances.

"Living here in New York I used to go and watch Raw," he said. "He'd leave me tickets and I'd go down there and I was always laughing. I'd tell him, 'I've got more teeth in my mouth than the entire front row Randy!' We had some great times."