Monday, April 12, 2021

Friend Encounters: Chelsey Haardt and Amanda Ruller

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

I first came across Amanda Ruller during her time in the Legends Football League. She played for the Los Angeles Temptation and the Atlanta Steam (unfortunately not my Chicago Bliss).
Amanda has been involved in sports virtually her whole life. She has been a part of the Canadian Olympic Development program. She has been a strength and fitness competitor and coach. She has done television and radio work. If I listed all of her awards and achievements, it would take me all day. What's more important though is who Amanda is.
Although I have never met her, I am happy to call her a long-distance friend. She was even kin enough to do a Johngy's Beat promo for me a few years back (now found in the left column).
Amanda is a fierce competitor. She has an amazing drive and focus, while still appearing to have so much fun along the way. Amanda is very engaging on social media. She shares tips, advice and her life experiences. Amanda's pages are a regular stop on my social media circuit.
She is also one of the most positive people you will ever see. Did I mention she is also funny and highly entertaining?
When Amanda posted a Throwback picture with former teammate Chelsey Haardt, I jumped at the chance to do a Friend Encounters featuring Amanda. Like Amanda, Chelsey is an accomplished athlete, who has also been a pro football player in the LFL, as well as a coach and fitness expert on her own and for various companies. It would be hard to find another picture with two more finely tuned women athletes.
Some day I hope to meet Amanda. She's on my people bucket list. Until then, I'll keep following her exploits online.
I encourage everyone to follow Amanda at @AmandaBolic on twitter and Amanda Ruller on Instagram. Also, if you're in the Calgary area, look for Amanda at sporting events and on television. She's everywhere!
Chelsey Haardt and Amanda Ruller in Seattle, WA-May 2015.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Celebrity Jersey Cards #531 Clyde Drexler & Hakeem Olajuwan

Celebrity Jersey Cards is a weekly series in which I create virtual trading cards for celebrities wearing sports jerseys. Today, I continue working my way alphabetically through all MLB teams.

After an outstanding career at the University of Houston, Clyde Drexler was selected by the Portland Trail Blazers with the 14th pick in the 1983 NBA draft. "The Glyde" spent 11.5 seasons with the Trail Blazers, before playing 3.5 years with the Houston Rockets to end his Hall of Fame career. He won one NBA championship (when Michael Jordan was temporarily retired, I must add). Drexler earned his Celebrity Jersey Card tossing the first pitch for the Houston Astros. I wonder if he glided it.

Born in Nigeria, Hakeem Olajuwon was a teammate of Drexler's at the University of Houston. Olajuwon was selected by the Rockets with the first pick in the 1983 NBA draft, He played  He played 17 seasons with the Rockets, before finishing his career with the Toronto Raptors for one season. He won two championships (both when Michael Jordan was temporarily retired, I must add) and was inducted into the Hall of Fame. Olajuwon tossed a first pitch for the Astors to get his Celebrity Jersey Card, unless it was all a "dream."

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Celebrity Jersey Cards #530 Special WrestleMania Edition: Hulk Hogan & The Miz

Celebrity Jersey Cards is a weekly series in which I create virtual trading cards for celebrities wearing sports jerseys. Today, celebrating the start of the WWE's WrestleMania, I feature wrestlers repping teams.

Hulk Hogan put the (then) WWF and wrestling in the mainstream with the debut of WrestleMania. Hogan is arguably the most recognized wrestler ever. Hogan's Celebrity Jersey Card completes the four sport Grand Slam for him. It also bends the time continuum , as the Toronto Raptors did not exist at the time of this card's original issue.  time of this card's original issue.

Born in Parma, Ohio, Mike Mizanan has carved quite a career. Starting as a reality television star and transforming himself into a solid wrestler, The Miz has earned everything he has achieved. While he has his share of critics, I think when his career is over, people will look back on it and realized all he accomplished. Miz stayed true to his Ohio roots and donned the Cleveland Cavaliers jersey for an appearance at a game. I don't know the connection to the #40, since nobody really distinguished themselves wearing that number for the Cavs.

Friday, April 9, 2021

On the Beat With Dirk Manning

I have previously interviewed and written about comic-creator Dirk Manning many times. You can find past coverage by going to Dirk Manning on Johngy's Beat.
I first met Dirk many years ago at a comic con and have seen him many times since. He is always good for an update on his latest projects, as well as talking about wrestling, ice cream and other fun. Dirk has an extensive bibliography and I am a devoted reader of his works, but I have never been as excited as I am about his latest project, Butts In Seats: The Tony Schiavone Story.
Wednesday evening, I had the pleasure of doing an interview with Dirk about Butts In Seats, as well as his other projects. We even squeezed in a little ice cream talk. I have been excited about this book from the first time I read about it in one of Dirk's social media posts. An admitted "unabashed wrestling fan," Dirk is the perfect person to write this story with Tony. Dirk understands and appreciates the wrestling business. He is also an extremely talented writer. Add Tony's collaboration and this book promises to be a winner.
Tony has had an interesting career. Falling in love with wrestling, becoming an announcer, leaving wrestling, broadcasting baseball and returning to wrestling are just part of Tony's journey. Although wrestling is a big part of this book, it's not the whole story. Butts In Seats can be enjoyed be anyone, wrestling fan or not. I have ordered the book and I encourage everyone to check out the Kickstarter campaign to learn all about it, which will lead you to buying the book. Once I get it, I will be reviewing it here, although I don't think Dirk or Tony have any worries. I am confident this book is going to be awesome.
I hope you enjoy the interview as much as I enjoyed talking to Dirk. I appreciate Dirk for all of the entertainment he has provided me in written form and I appreciate his friendship even more. I thank Dirk for taking time from his current insanely busy schedule to give me this fun interview.
Go to the Butts In Seats: The Tony Schiavone Story Kickstarter page for more info. Also, check out Dirk's other work at and look for him on social media. Also, go to for more on Tony and the whole organization.

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Happy Birthday, Nancy!

Today is my eldest sister Nancy's birthday. While she is still out west, I am celebrating her day and sending my love.

We have semi-jokingly started referring to Nancy as the matriarch of our family. While it is a playful jab at her age (although we are all getting older), it is done with love. Don't worry, Nancy gives it back just as good, too. 

Both my sisters are my rocks. Not only have they been there for me always, but we have had so many laughs and good times.

The picture below is of Nancy with Sully, when he was just a little pup. Now he's causing all sorts of mischief and Nanc loves him dearly. She's a great dog mom, regular mom, sister and person.

I hope Nancy has a great birthday. Once things settle, the siblings will have a big celebration of all the days we missed during this pandemic. For today though, I send birthday greetings and love out west. Happy birthday, Nancy. I love you.

Nancy and Sully in Sandy, UT-April 2020.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Coach Gary Kloppenburg and the WNBA Seattle Storm

Gary Kloppenburg played basketball at the University of California, San Diego and semi-professionally here and overseas. Kloppenburg began his coaching career as an assistant men's basketball coach at Feather River College ifor the 1983-84 season.
Kloppenburg served as an assistant coach with the WNBA Seattle Storm 2000-02 and Phoenix Mercury in 2003. He was an assistant coach of the Charlotte Bobcats of the National Basketball Association from 2004-07 and an assistant coach of the Indiana Fever 2008-11 and Los Angeles Sparks in 2014.
In 2017, Kloppenburg became an assistant for the Storm. He was named interim head coach in August 2017.  Kloppenburg stayed as an assistant under new head coach Dan Hughes. In the 2019 season, Kloppenburg served as interim head coach again when Hughes was recovering from cancer surgery. In June 2020, Kloppenburg became head coach again after Hughes was determined to be at higher risk of illness from COVID-19.
Last season, Kloppenburg led the Storm to an 18-4 record, good for second place in the Western Conference, although they shared the same record as the first place Las Vegas Aces. The Storm went on to beat the Aces for the WNBA championship.
Kloppenburg was great in the press sessions. While I want to compliment Kloppenburg for those sessions, I have to say all of the WNBA coaches and players were really cool with the press.
The Storm is loaded with great players like Sue Bird, Breanna Stewart, Mercedes Russell and more. The 2021 WNBA season promises to be very interesting though, as there was significant moving of players on other teams via free agency and trades. 
The WNBA is set to start the season midsummer, but no specific details were announced. I am guessing teams will play in their home arenas with limited fans to start. I don't know eher that leaves press sessions. I am hoping for another year of covering the teams via Zoom, but I'll find out when the announcements are made.
Either way, I'll be providing coverage here, and Also check out for more news and info.

Gary Kloppenburg and me-Summer 2021.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Madusa Appearing at the Squared Circle Expo

Madusa Miceli is coming to the Squared Circle Expo May 14-15 in Indianapolis, Indiana. This is quite a coup for a lineup that already includes many legendary wrestling legends.
Debrah Ann Miceli was born in Milan, Italy, but rose to fame as in wrestling rings all over the world. Known mostly as Madusa Miceli, she wrestled as Alundra Blayze in the WWF.
Trained by Eddie Sharkey in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Madusa joined the American Wrestling Association in 1986. Her first feud was with Sherri Martel. Madusa would go on to beat Candi Devine in a tournament final for the vacant AWA Women's title in December 1987. She held that belt for almost a year before losing it to Wendi Richter.
During this time, Madusa also managed "Mr. Magnificent" Kevin Kelly and the AWA World Heavyweight Champion Curt Hennig Madusa and Hennig eventually joined the Diamond Exchange, a stable led by Diamond Dallas Page. In 1988, she was the first woman to be awarded Pro Wrestling Illustrated's Rookie of the Year. The next year, she signed with All Japan Women's Pro-Wrestling, first foreign wrestler to do so.
In 1991, Madusa joined World Championship Wrestling as part of Paul E. Dangerously's Dangerous Alliance. After mostly serving as a valet to Rick Rude, Madusa was kicked out of the Dangerous Alliance. Madusa got revenge by beating Dangerously by count-out at the Clash of Champions XXII.
When Madusa signed with the WWF, Vince McMahon did not want to pay her for her trademarked name, no did he like acknowledging the pasts of wrestlers. Madusa was renamed Alundra Blayze.
In December 1993, she beat Heidi Lee Morgan for the vacant Women's title. She lost the title to Bull Nakano in November 1994, but won it back in April 1995 for her second reign. She lost the title to Bertha Faye in August 1995, but won it again in October 1995 for her third reign.
At the end of 1995, Madusa rejoined WCW and discarded the WWE title belt. Madusa never won the WCW Women's title, but did hold the WCW Cruiserweight title after beating Evan Karagias to become the first woman to hold that title. Madusa was also part of Randy Savage's Team Madness. Madusa also served as an instructor at WCW's Power Plant.
In 2015, she was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame under the Alundra Blayze moniker. She returned with the WWE Women's title and proclaimed it was back where it belonged and she was champ. She later returned and beat Candice Michelle for the 24/7 title, a belt she eventually sold to Ted DiBiase. In 2017, the WWE Network released a documentary entitled "TrailBlayzer" detailing Miceli's careers in both wrestling and monster truck driving.
Madusa is just the latest guest announced for what is shaping up to be a fantastic lineup of wrestling legends.
The Squared Circle Expo promises to deliver a unique fan experience. Promoted as a " convention dedicated to the culture of professional wrestling and sports entertainment," the Squared Circle Expo takes the best elements of conventions and adds a few new ones to deliver a unique fan experience.
The two day event will include wrestling superstars, meet and greets, photo ops, special events, seminars, memorabilia vendors, Q&A panels and more. There will even be a live wrestling show on Saturday night. Along with Madusa, also appearing are Vickie Guerrero, Melina, Renee Michelle, Francine, Tay Conti, Dr. Britt Baker, Booker T, the Gunn Club (Billy, Austin and Colten Gunn), Chris Masters, JTG, Kane, the Headbangers, Dustin Rhodes, Jake Roberts, Darby Allin, Sammy Guevara, Charles Wright, Dan Severn, Duke Droese. The Boogeyman and the Highlanders. More legends will be announced as they are added.
I will be "On the Beat" all weekend. Until then, I'll be updating news here, on and Also, check SquaredCircleX.coom for more info.

 Madusa Miceli and me in Indianapolis, IN-July 2018.

Monday, April 5, 2021

Friend Encounters: Dennis Rodman and Mike Pankow

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

Longtime journalist Mike Pankow is the man behind Windy City Slam, a great website focused on the wrestling scene from Chicago and around the world. I don't know how he covers so much stuff. He is a machine.
I have been privileged to help Mike a few times with interviews. Cameraman Johngy is always ready and happy to contribute to Windy City Slam any time.
While Mike is achieving legendary status as a wrestling journalist, he meets a lot of other legends. One of those was NBA Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman. "The Worm" won titles with the Chicago Bulls and the Detroit Pistons, but he also made several appearances in the wrestling ring. He debuted in WCW in the NWO along with Hollywood Hulk Hogan. Rodman was actually decent in wrestling, for an outsider. I'm sure his practice was limited, but he did okay in the ring and certainly brought attention to the company.
The two legends met at the Baseball Card Exchange in Schererville, IN a few years ago. Unfortunately, Mike did not get an interview with him. Unfortunately #2, I wasn't there to witness the meeting or to meet Rodman.
Go to to check out Mike's great site. If you're a wrestling fan, there is a lot of awesome material there.
Mike Pankow and Dennis Rodman in Schererville, IN-March 2015.

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Celebrity Jersey Cards #529 Billie Joe Armstrong & Mike Dirnt

Celebrity Jersey Cards is a weekly series in which I create virtual trading cards for celebrities wearing sports jerseys. Today, I continue working my way alphabetically through all MLB teams.

Oakland native Billie Joe Armstrong is the co-founder, lead vocalist, primary songwriter, and lead guitarist of Green Day, He met fellow co-founder Mike Dirnt while both were in elementary school. The duo started Sweet Children ion their teens and that morphed into Green Day. Armstrong stayed true to his roots by wearing an A's jersey when he was on the field in Oakland, earning his Celebrity Jersey Card..
Fellow Oaklander Mike Dirnt is co-founder, bassist, backing, occasional lead vocalist and former guitarist of Green Day. Dirnt and Armstrong also co-founded Oakland Coffee Works, a company selling organic coffee beans and the first company to use mass-produced compostable bags and pods. Green Day was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2015, their first year of eligibility. Dirnt also showed his loyalty to the A's by donning the green and gold while on the field in Oakland, earning his Celebrity Jersey Card.

Saturday, April 3, 2021

Cards That Never Were: Ron Allen Topps 1973

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 far too many to list, but I appreciate all of their efforts. More of my creations and many great creations of others can be found in the Custom Baseball Cards Facebook group (and not just baseball cards).
The younger brother of Dick and Hank Allen, Ron Allen started his pro career in the Philadelphia Phillies organization in 1964. After hitting 135 homers in the minors, Ron finally made it to the majors with the St. Louis Cardinals for seven games in 1972. In seven games with the Cards, Ron had 11 plate appearances, getting one hit (a home run, one RBI and two runs scored. Defensively, he appeared in five games at 1st base.
Topps did not give Ron a card for his brief stint with the Cardinals. While that is understandable, as long as I could find a picture and somewhat colorize it, I had to try to make that missing card. I made two. Neither is great, but they are the best I could do.
Additionally, I am showing a 1969 card that Lynn, from the aforementioned FB group, created. It's a beauty of a card, too.