Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Tony Schiavone at C2E2 2019

Before cable television, I only read about NWA wrestling. I read about all of the legendary wrestlers and the great history, but I never saw any shows, other than from video tapes.
Once I finally got cable, the first voice I heard oon NWA broadcasts on TBS was announcer Tony Schiavone.
He had started with the NWA in 1985. After a short stint in the WWF, Schiavone returned to TBS with the NWA/WCW, where he would remain until the WWE bought the WCW in 2001.
Schiavone has had his share of critics (like most announcers), but I enjoyed his work throughout the years. He adds the right amount of hype and excitement, without overdoing it.
Since leaving wrestling, he kept busy with minor league baseball and other broadcasting endeavors. He also has been involved with a couple wrestling-related podcasts.
Schiavone recently joined All Elite Wrestling for their tv debut. It was great hearing him back calling the action.
I am not yet sold on the AEW product. Maybe I am just a traditional WWE guy), but early indications are positive for the new company.
I had the pleasure of meeting Schiavone at C2E2 earlier this year. He was very friendly and willing to talk wrestling, baseball and anything else. He actually seemed very happy discussing baseball,probably because his Braves were doing well as always.
I don't think Schiavone gets enough credit when discussing great wrestling announcers. He has put in an excellent 15+ years calling action with several different partners. He was there for the lows and the highs at WCW. He called some of the greatest matches ever.
You can catch him on AEW every Wednesday night. You can also follow him at @TonySchiavone24 on twitter. Finally, check C2E2.com for news on C2E2 2020.
Tony Schiavone and me in Chicago, IL-March 2019.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Mancow at PopCon Milwaukee 2017

I rarely recognize celebrities outside of scheduled appearances. A couple years ago, I had one of those occurrences when I saw Mancow Muller at the PopCon Milwaukee. Making it even odder, he recognized me.
Love him or not, you have to respect Mancow for a successful radio career spanning over 25 years. Radio is a tough enough business and it has gotten tougher in recent years, but Mancow has managed to stay in the game all of these years.
When I saw Mancow down the aisle from me at PopCon Milwaukee, I hesitated because I didn't want to bother him on his time. I decided to approach him because it was a rare chance. At first, I just greeted him and mentioned meeting him previously at a convention in Chicago. Mancow remembered me, because he did a short promo video including me. Since the exchange was pleasant, I asked for a picture and he was cool about it.
I let him be after that, but enjoyed watching him interact with some of his favorite celebrities. For those moments, he was just a regular fan, like the rest of us. I think his appreciation for other celebrities helps in his patience with annoying fans like me.
Mancow and me in Milwaukee, WI-November 2017.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Friend Encounters: Jeanie Buss and Michael Kingston

Friend Encounters is a weekly series featuring friends who have met celebrities.

Michael Kingston wanted to make a wrestling comic that was cool and entertaining, but also really showed the world of wrestling. In 2007, that goal became a reality when Headlocked debuted. Since then, Michael has worked tirelessly at making Headlocked successful.
Over the years, many wrestlers have contributed, including Jerry "The King" Lawler, who has done covers. Other wrestlers involved in some way include Ric Flair, Mick Foley, Rob Van Dam, "The Hurricane" Shane Helms and many others. It has continued growing in popularity among wrestlers and fans. Michael should be proud, as Headlocked is indeed a success.
Of course, despite the success so far, Michael still has to really grind it out. Michael is one of the hardest working folks on the comic con scene. His booth is also one of the most popular.
At the San Diego Comic Con earlier this year, Michael hung out with his usual assortment of legendary wrestlers, but he also met Jeanie Buss. The daughter of the late owner of the Los Angeles Lakers is the co-owner of WOW-Women of Wrestling, a Los Angeles-based wrestling company. Buss was at SDCC to promote WOW and Michael got to meet her during a rare break for him.
I am very happy for Michael. He is as nice as he is talented. He is dedicated, passionate and focused. He earns whatever success he gets and I hope he continues to succeed.
Go to HeadlockedComic.com for more info on Michael's work. If you see the Headlocked booth at a comic con, stop by and check out his great work. You might also meet a wrestling legend or two or even a basketball executive.
Jeanie Buss and Michael Kingston in San Diego, CA-July 2019.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Celebrity Jersey Cards #639 Bruce Boxleitner & Stephen Lang

This is a regular series in which I create virtual trading cards for celebrities wearing jerseys. Once again, we are working our way alphabetically through all of the Major League Baseball teams. Topday we feature celebrity Yankees with ties to Babe Ruth.

Born in the suburbs of Chicago, Bruce Boxleitner has gone on to have a great acting career. Boxleitner also has written two science fiction novels. His role as Jumpin' Joe Dugan in The Babe starring John Goodman earned him his Celebrity Jersey Card.
 Actor Stephen Lang portrayed Babe in the television movie Babe Ruth. That had to be an extra thrill for the New York native. Lang might be better known for his role in the Avatar franchise. Still, it was the role as Babe that earned him a Celebrity Jersey Card.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Cards That Never Were; Ken Stabler 1971, '72, '84 and '85 Topps

Cards That Never Were is a recurring series in which I create virtual trading cards for players missed in various sets. It is a concept I have borrowed from too many to list, but I appreciate all of their efforts.
After a stellar career at Alabama, Ken Stabler was selected in the second round of the 1968 NFL/AFL Draft by the Oakland Raiders, the reigning AFL champions. He was also drafted to play baseball by the New York Yankees in 1966, the New York Mets in 1967 and the Houston Astros in 1968. He signed with the Raiders, who sent him to the Spokane Shockers of the Continental Football League for the 1968 season. He rejoined the Raiders and left the team a couple times in 1968 and '69, before returning to the Raiders for the '70 season.
Being behind George Blanda and Daryle Lamonica, Stabler saw very little action in '71 and '72. He became a starter in '73 and held that position through 1979. He was traded to the Houston Oilers, where he played for two seasons and then finished his career with three seasons in New Orleans.
Fittingly, Topps gave Stabler his first card in the 1973 set. He continued to get cards every year until 1984, when he was left out. He also did not get a "career capper" card in the 1985 set.
I decided to fix the glaring omissions. I did not attempt a card for '69 or '70, as he did not get on the field and was barely with the team. I created a card for 1971, '72, '84 and '85, to fill in the other gaps. The '71 card features him as a holder, his primary position, since he only attempted seven passes all season.
For 1972, I created two cards, which I rarely do. The first was the best actual shot. I just thought the second looked cool. I liked the concept that Stabler was behind Blanda and Lamonica in line for the QB job.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Lexi Held and the 2019-'20 DePaul Blue Demons

Last season was my first full season of covering the DePaul Blue Demons women's basketball team and what a season it was. I saw them win the Big East tournament at Wintrust Arena and I celebrated with the team and the fans on the court after the big win.
One of the big factors all season was the play of freshman Lexi Held. She came into DePaul after being named Northern Kentucky Coaches Association Player of the Year for her senior year in high school. She averaged 8.3 points per game and 1.3 rebounds, while also having 52 assists, 3 blocks and 20 steals. She had a season high 28 points twice.
She was a real joy to watch, as she gained experience and poise. I predict big things for Lexi and I will be there watching and reporting.
The near future is bright for the Blue Demons. As reigning Big East champs, everyone is gunning for them, but the titles speak volumes on their ability.
Once again, I will be covering the team. I look forward to a lot of fun and will be reporting all here, on Patch.com and online for Global Traveler.
Go to DePaulBlueDemons.com for all of the info on the team. Also, be sure to follow Lexi at @LexiHeld on Instagram.
Lexi Held and me in Chicago, IL-March 2019.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Cards That Never Were: Bob Hewko 1984 Topps

Cards That Never were is a recurring series in which I create virtual trading cards for players missed in various sets over the years. It is a concept I have borrowed from far too many to list, but I thank them all.
Bob Hewko played quarterback for the University of Florida from 1980-1982. In 18 games, he threw for 1,223 yards with 12 touchdowns and 9 interceptions with a 54.3% completion rate.
After college, he signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He appeared in 2 games for the 1973 Bucs, but didn't throw a pass. The 1983 Bucs had Jack Thompson starting 13 games as the main QB, with Jerry Goldsteyn starting 3 games and Jeff Komlo appearing in 2 games. Hewko was 4th on the depth chart.
When his football career ended, Hewko went into private business. In 2012, Hewko replaced Sean Salisbury as the color commentator for the Legends Football League and has remained with the LFL to date.
While Hewko's NFL career was short, he accomplished a dream. He put on an NFL uniform, stepped on the field and is a part of NFL history.
O course, as cool as it is that he made it to the NFL, I certainly understand why Topps did not make a card for him in their 1984 set. Still, as always, I am out to correct omissions when I can.
I only found one picture of Hewko with the Bucs. The photo came from Hewko's Facebook page and seems to be from a preseason game, since he didn't throw any passes in the regular season. It's not the best picture, but it'll have to do. Below is the 1984 Hewko Topps card that never was.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Coach Steve Leverton and the Heartland Community College Hawks

I spent last Sunday at Northwestern University, where the Wildcats softball team won two games (against Heartland Community College and Spoon River College). In the middle game, SRC beat HCC. It was a tough day for HCC, as they lost 15-1 to the Cats and 1-0 to the Snappers.
As I watched the games in the October chill, a few fans asked why HCC would schedule these games at NU, when they are so clearly overmatched. These games do not count in the standings. They are a preview for the 2020 season. Teams like HCC use these games as learning devices and good experiences. Nobody wants to lose 15-1, but HCC knew NU is a better team. This was a chance to play against one of the top teams in the nation.
To their credit, the Hawks were a class act all day. After their games, when talking to HCC Coach Steve Leverton, it was clear that he sets the tone.
Upon introducing myself, Coach Leverton immediately thanked me for covering the games. He then complimented NU on being a great team. It was a long, cold day for the team and I am sure they all wanted to get on the bus and head home (or get food). Yet, Coach Leverton took time to discuss his team.
HCC promoted Leverton to the Head Coach position in October 2013, after he had been an assistant for three seasons. Leverton has more than 30 years of coaching experience.
Last season, the Hawks had a 30-13 regular season record, going 16-8 in Mid-West Athletic Conference play. The Hawks went 2-1 in the NJCAA Region 24 Softball Tournament. 
Sophomores Maddie Mackey and Jasmine McCormick earned All-Region and All-Tournament honors. Freshman pitcher Alyssa Roll also won All-Tournament honors.
Coach Leverton is excited and positive about the 2020 season. He talked about the challenges and rewards in coaching a community college. He talked of the learning experience playing NU. He was quick credit NU with having a great team.
NU is on a different level and HCC shouldn't be compared directly to them. Within their own conference, HCC is a different story. As Coach Leverton stated, 2020 should be another successful season for the Hawks. Among others, big things are expected from Roll, who was 7-0 with a 1.95 ERA, allowing only 11 extra base hits in 46.2 innings pitched.
I hope to see Coach Leverton and the Hawks at Fall Ball next season. Until then, I will be following their progress. You can go to HeartlandHawks.com for more info on the team and school.
Thank you to Coach Leverton for his time. Good luck to the Hawks next season!
Steve Leverton and me in Evanston, IL-October 2019.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Congratulations to Taylor Edwards of Team USA

Recently, USA Softball announced its 2020 U.S. Olympic Softball Team roster. The team that will compete in the 2020 Olympics roster includes 15 players and three replacement players, one of whom is former Chicago Bandits star catcher Taylor Edwards.
Taylor starred at the University of Nebraska.  She was teammates with her twin sister Tatum.  Together they started their NPF career with the Pennsylvania Rebellion.  After their rookie season, they were traded to the Chicago Bandits, where they played for 2 seasons.  Prior to the 2017 season, , Taylor was traded to the Scrapyard (Houston) Dawgs (and Tatum retired). In 2018, the Dawgs left the NPF
Despite having three catchers on the main roster, team officials decided to add Taylor to the replacement squad. On playing for Team USA, Taylor said, "It's a very humbling feeling and I'm so honored to represent the USA. I've been dreaming of this since I was a kid. I want to make my family proud and continue to play for them no matter how big the stage is."
I had the pleasure of watching Taylor up close during her two seasons with the Bandits. I interviewed her a few times. The first one can be found at at On the Beat with Taylor Edwards.
Taylor is still a member of the Dawgs and sister Tatum has rejoined her. There is another Edwards player coming up, as youngest sister Tristen Edwards is an infielder at the University of Nebraska.
I am happy and excited for Taylor. It would be awesome if she actually plays in the Olympics, but just being a part of the team is a great accomplishment.
This is the first time I have ever looked forward to an Olympics. In July 2020, the Team USA softball squad will compete and I will know most of the roster. I look forward to seeing all of these familiar faces representing our country on the biggest stage of all.
I will continue to provide recurring coverage of the players and team here, on Patch.com and GlobalTravelerUSA.com. You can also check TeamUSA.org for more info on the softball team and ProFastpitch.com for more info on the pro league and its players.
Taylor Edwards and me in Rosemont, IL-Summer 2015.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Friend Encounters: Rob Van Dam and Tommy Else

Friend Encounters is a regular series in which I feature friends who have met celebrities.

When Wizard World announced wrestling legend Rob Van Dam for the Chicago show, I immediate texted my bud Tommy Else and told him to clear a day. Knowing RVD was his guy, I wanted to facilitate his first encounter with his favorite.
Tommy joined the Johngy's Beat crew on Saturday and immediately went to RVD's booth. It was cool to see the exchange. I know how I felt when I met Roddy Piper for the first time and I saw that look in Tommy's eyes.
From his social media post, Tommy summarized the experience.

This was a really big deal for me...
ESV meets RVD!
When I started really getting into wrestling in 99' RVD was the 1st talent to stand out to me against the rest. His style, his gear, his charisma... He was my 1st "Favorite Wrestler" and tied with Chris Jericho remains so to this day.
Today I got to tell him as much, and he was every bit as cool as I'd hoped he'd be. I could have hung out with him all day.
Thank you to John Wroblewski for helping make this dream a reality. This was definitely a bucket list item for me, and I still hope The Resistance brings him in someday so I can drive him around.
I didn't think I had it in me anymore to "mark out" for someone... but I damn sure did for "The Whole F'N Show" ROB... VAN... DAM!

When favorites of my friends appear at Wizard World, I always try to offer them the chance to join me. I am very happy I got to help Tommy with RVD. Chris Jericho is his other favorite and if he ever makes an appearance, I will make sure Tommy is there again.
The next Wizard World is in Madison, WI October 25-27. For more info, check out WizardWorld.com.
Rob Van Dam and Tommy Else in Rosemont, IL-August 2019.