Sunday, January 26, 2020

Celebrity Jersey Cards #654 Amy Freeze & D.B. Sweeney

Celebrity Jersey Cards is a regular series in which I create virtual; trading cards for celebrities wearing jerseys. While we wait a week for the Super Bowl, we take a break from football.

Born in Utah and raised in Indiana, Amy Freeze has a great name for a Meteorologist. After a successful run as the first female Chief Meteorologist in Chicago, Freeze has been with ABC in New York since 2011. During her time in Chicago, she dropped the ceremonial puck for the Chicago Wolves to earn her Celebrity Jersey Card.
Daniel Bernard Sweeney was born in New York and rose to fame in Hollywood, acting as D.B. Sweeney. Since the mid-1980s. Sweeney has kept busy on television and motion pictures. Somewhere during that time, he dropped a ceremonial puck for the Chicago Wolves and landed on a Celebrity Jersey Card. Patrick Cannone of the Wolves and Jake Chelios of the Charlotte Checkers are the players.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Mascot Week: Swampee

Mascot Week continues as we head down to Florida. We feature Swampee of the ECHL Florida Everblades.
Founded in 1998, the Everblades are the minor league affiliate of the NHL's Nashville Predators. The name obviously refers to the Florida Everglades. The team colors of blue and green were selected by Carolina Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos Jr. to pay homage to the Hartford Whalers. The Hurricanes were  the team's NHL affiliate for their first 21 years of existence.
I could not find specific info on the actual mascot. The alligator logo has been around since the debut of the Everglades, but I cannot confirm when Swampee debuted.
I met Swampee a few years ago on a trip to my sister's place in Florida. I was a bit surprised  at the popularity of the Everblades, but team success helps. The Everblades have only missed the playoffs one time in their existence.
Swampee and me in FL-March 2017.

Friday, January 24, 2020

Mascot Week: Arli Arlington

Today, Mascot Week brings us to Arli Arlington, the mascot for Arlington International in Arlington Heights, IL. Fittingly, Arli is a horse.
Again, getting information on a mascot has been challenging. I know he goes back to at least 2016, because I met him at the birthday celebration for Swiper, the mascot of the Chicago Bandits.
Since Arli is a horse, you'd think he could lend some insight into the other horses racing at the track. Unfortunately, Arli was of no help to me when I met him. I didn't want to "nag" him. He seemed to be having a lot of fun "horsing" around with the other mascots.
Go to for more info on the race track and maybe you can find more info on Arli. If anyone digs up more info on Arli, please feel free to she it with me.

Arli and me in Rosemont, IL-July 2016.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Mascot Week: Friar Dom

Mascot Week continues as we feature Friar Dom of Providence College. Friar Dom comes with an interesting history.
The team name "Friars" dates back to 1929 and is a shortened form of the Dominican order, "the Blackfriars." The original mascot of Providence was a Dalmatian who first appeared at a football game in 1935. A few generations of Dalmatians followed. The death of Friar Boy IV in 1963, led to the creation of Friar Dom. In 1993, Friar Boy V was introduced as the newest Dalmatian.
In 2017, a Dalmatian mascot debuted as company for Friar Dom. The purpose was to have a mascot able to perform more athletic stunts throughout the games. A contest resulted in the Dalmatian mascot being named Huxley. Providence spokespeople made it clear that the new Dalmatian mascot would be in addition to Friar Dom and in no way would replace him.
Friar Dom has been called "ghoulish" and "haunting." He has even been described as scary. I like Friar Dom. It is interesting. Even in a world of larger-than-life caricatures, Friar Dom stands out.
I met Friar Dom during the Big East Conference Women's Basketball tournament last year. I failed to meet Huxley though. Unfortunately for Providence, despite both mascots, Providence lost to DePaul in the Quarterfinals.
and me in Chicago, IL-March 2019.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Mascot Week: Randy Johnson

We continue celebrating our fuzzy, fun friends on Mascot Week. Today's featured mascot is a bit unusual, even for a mascot.
The Arizona Diamondbacks have a legend mascots race between Randy Johnson, Luis Gonzalez, Mark Grace and Matt Williams. These mascots are exactly what they sound like they would be. They are mascot versions, with enlarged heads, of four of the most legendary Diamondbacks.
While meandering around Chase Field, I ran into the Randy Johnson mascot. The Hall of Famer spent six of his 22 seasons pitching for the Diamondbacks, including the 2001 season in which they won the World Series. The 6'10" Big Unit was named the World Series MVP.
As noted, Johnson is very tall, but the person in his mascot costume seems pretty tall, too. His shoulder is well above mine.  He isn't tall enough to be the real Randy Johnson though.
I wanted to meet the other mascot legends, but I failed in that attempt. I am content to have gotten one though.
Randy Johnson and me in Phoenix, AZ-September 2015.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Mascot Week: Rusty, Swiper, Squeeze, Willie, Supernova, Skates and King

Mascot Week continues. Cn you spot me among the many furry creatures?
Every July, the Chicago Bandits celebrated their mascot Swiper's birthday. .There are always several other mascots joining Swiper and helping celebrate his birthday.
Last season, my planning worked perfectly, as I caught the whole group as they left the playing field after pre-game festivities. That gave me the rare opportunity to get a group picture with all seven of them. We almost missed Supernova from the Chicago Red Stars, but he jumped in just at the last moment. Good thing he did, because that would have been a missed chance that would haunt me.
The rest of this week will be filled with all of the furry, fuzzy, goofy fun of the wonderful world of mascots. Of course, it will be hard to ever top this mascot experience.
Kings Dining & Entertainment Mascot, Chicago Dogs Squeeze, Northwestern University Willie the Wildcat, Gary SouthShore RailCats Rusty, Chicago Wolves Skates, Chicago Red Stars and me in Rosemont, IL-July 2019.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Mascot Week: Friend Encounters: Rocky of the Denver Nuggets, Jean and Sam

Friend Encounters is a weekly series featuring friends who have met celebrities. We continue Mascot Week with a special Friend Encounters: Mascot Edition.

My niece Sam and her husband Kyle recently moved to Colorado. It was sad to see them leave Illinois, but I am happy for them.
Her parents Jean and Scott made their first visit and took in the sights of the Denver area. Of course, one of those stops had to be a Denver Nuggets game at the Pepsi Center. While there, Jean and Sam met Rocky, the Nuggets' mascot.
Actually, Rocky's full name is Supermascot Rocky and he is widely recognized as the best mascot in professional sports. Rocky debuted December 15, 1990. Born in the Rocky Mountains, his billed height is 5'10" and his billed weight is 154 pounds. He has a reputation for being ornery, although I think that is aimed mostly at the opponents and their fans.
Jean and Sam earned extra Johngy Points for waiting in line to meet and get a picture with Rocky. They are always looking to help me with Johngy's Beat and they know I love mascots.
Jean, Rocky and Sam in Dnver, CO-December 2019.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Mascot Week: Celebrity Jersey Cards Linda Cohn (With Mr. Met) & Robin Roberts (With The Phillie Phanatic)

Celebrity Jersey Cards is a regular series in which I create virtual; trading cards for celebrities wearing jerseys. To kickoff Mascot Week, we feature special Celebrity Jersey Cards with mascots.

New York native Linda Cohn is a broadcasting pioneer. In 1987, Cohn made history by becoming the first full-time U.S. female sports anchor on a national radio network when she was hired by ABC. In 2014, Cohn was named one of the 25 most influential women in sports. Cohn shares her Mascot Edition Celebrity Jersey Card with Mr. Met.
Born in Alabama, Robin Roberts rose to fame as a newscaster on ESPN. Her father was a pilot with the Tuskegee Airmen. A credible and popular broadcaster for more than 35 years, Roberts has battled myelodysplastic syndrome. Her treatment was covered on Good Morning America, earning a Peabody Award. She continues to be an inspiration. Roberts shares her Mascot Edition Celebrity Jersey Card with the Phillie Phanatic.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Beer City Bruiser at Blizzard Brawl 2019

I don't think I am exposing any big secret in writing Matt Winchester wrestles as the Beer City Bruiser. I think that is known in and out of wrestling kayfabe.
Billed from Milwaukee, WI, Winchester debuted in 2000. He has wrestled for several companies, including Ring of Honor, where he currently wrestles. He has also wrestled for Brew City Wrestling (naturally), the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) and others. Pro Wrestling Illustrated ranked Bruiser #318 of the top 500 wrestlers in the PWI 500 in 2017.
A few years back, Winchester was the star of a commercial for Sears. Winchester was in the ring, throwing around another wrestler who was wearing "tough" Sears clothes. Along with wrestler Paloma Starr, I was selected to play a small part of a scientist evaluating the clothing. In the end, Winchester threw the other wrestler onto Paloma and me, knocking us down, of course.
Actually, Winchester tossed out a dummy at us, knocking us down. While it wasn't a real person, the dummy was still quite heavy and actually hit me pretty hard below the belt, but I took one for the team, as a true professional (at least for one day) would.
Unfortunately, the commercial is lost. It aired for a long time on YouTube and I did download it, but a virus wiped out some of my files. Nobody involved in the commercial has a copy, although we all would love to have it. If anyone out there happens to have it, please let me know. (It's a huge longshot, but just taking a chance.)
At Great Lakes Championship Wrestling's Blizzard Brawl, I caught up with Winchester. He's doing great and still kicking butt in the ring.
You can follow him at @bcbwinchester on twitter. Also, go to for info on their roster and events.
Matt Winchester and me in Waukesha, WI-December 2019.

Friday, January 17, 2020

AJ Mendez Brooks and More GLOW

I have written several times about AJ Lee. AJ is a former wrestler who has transcended the wrestling scene and moved into the mainstream. AJ might also be known as her real name AJ Mendez or AJ Brooks, her married name.
Growing up in a dysfunctional home, AJ suffered mental issues. AJ's life started to turn for the better when she was properly diagnosed as bipolar.
When she started her career in pro wrestling, she battled stereotypes, but refused to change. Her stance paid off, as she became a successful and popular wrestler.
After leaving wrestling, AJ wrote her autobiography Crazy is My Super Power. It is a bit of a rough read, as AJ tells of her struggles and efforts to remove the stigma from mental illness. It is a wonderful book and I thanked AJ for writing it when I met her at a National Alliance on Mental Illness event where she spoke.
AJ's latest project combines her love for comic books and her efforts to be and create a positive role model for young girls. Teaming with actress Aimee Garcia, the pair co-wrote a four part comic book series based on GLOW. In GLOW vs. The Babyface, the women created strong diverse female characters.
It's an interesting series and having AJ and Aimee aboard brings a little extra publicity to it. They aren't figurehead writers though. They dug in deep and really worked on this series. The product is great. Comics fans have greeted it warmly and the ladies are rightly proud.
The second part was recently released and is another winner. I look forward to the final two issues.
Putting a comic book on a Great Reads list is a bit unorthodox. I prefaced its inclusion by stating these were for quicker, lighter reading. I also including a comic book featuring the legendary Svengoolie, as well as a couple illustrated by my artist friend Sara Richard.
Fun reads don't have to be huge novels and you don't have to be a kid to enjoy a comic book. There is room on my bookshelf for all sorts of literature. The comic I selected all had special meaning to me. The list must be okay, because Great Reads 2019 became one of the most viewed blogs in GT history and nobody complained about the comic books.
You can follow AJ at @TheAJMendez on twitter. Check with your local comic book store for GLOW vs. The Babyface.
AJ Lee and me in Wilmette, IL-May 2019.