As I'm sure a lot people were, I was a huge fan of The "Macho Man" Randy Savage, the pro wrestler, growing up as a kid, especially during his time in WCW. Even when the umm...sport? reached new lows in the late 90s, Savage made it entertaining with his larger than live personality and his outlandish Slim Jim commercials. Unfortunately as many of you have probably already heard, Savage passed away this morning at the age of 58 after crashing his vehicle into a tree following a heart attack.
So where does this all fit in? In his past life, well before the squared circle, Savage (real name Randy Poffo) was a baseball player with dreams of making it to the big leagues. While he never quite got there, he sure did get close.
In 1971, at the ripe age of 18 Poffo made his debut as an outfielder with the Gulf Coast League Cardinals (the Rookie League affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals). In 63 at-bats Poffo hit .286 with two home runs. The Macho Man returned to the GCL Cardinals for a second go around in 1972 and put up similar numbers. In 168 at-bats Poffo hit .274 with four home runs and even flashed a little speed with four stolen bases which matched his career-high.
His best season in affiliated ball by far came in 1973 when he tore up Rookie level pitching with the GCL Red Birds by hitting .344 in 61 at-bats before getting called up to Single-A for the first time as a 20 year-old. I'm sure his reaction was something along the lines of "Ohhh....Yeah!".
Unfortunately, Poffo's production dropped off upon being promoted to the Orangeburg Cardinals and was cut loose by the team.
In 1974, Poffo latched onto the Tampa Tarpons, the Rookie league affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds. However, he struggled hitting just .232 before hanging up his cleats and ultimately leaving the game. The rest...well the rest is history. Who would have thought that a little known minor leaguer would go on one day to headline sold-out arenas alongside the likes of Hulk Hogan and Sting?
Those wishing to share thoughts with Randy's family can send a message to the following email address: InMemoryOfRandy@gmail.com
With the holiday weekend, our weekly Newark Bears Player of the Week feature has been disrupted a bit. In honor of the upcoming new year, I thought it would be fitting to close out the year by choosing one member of the 2010 Bears roster as the Player of the Year.
The Bears had a lot of talented players with major league playing experience on their roster in 2010, but the one who stood out to be above all was Brian Barton. I remember Brian from his days with the St. Louis Cardinals back in 2007 and I was really excited when I learned he was traded to Newark mid-way through the season. He gave the Bears a spark in a year where they struggled to gain traction in the Atlantic League standings. For the season he hit .346 and crushed 19 home runs, which is no easy feat in Bears and Eagles Riverfront Stadium.
On top of that the 28 year-old is a genius, no really he is, according to a fascinating article by the Riverfront Times in 2008 that revealed that Barton actually went to college for aerospace engineering and not his baseball skills.
As for what Barton is up to now, his hot hitting in Newark did not go unnoticed by Major League teams. Recently, according to, Baseball America’s Matthew Eddy, Barton signed a minor league deal with the Cincinnati Reds for the 2011 season. If all goes well for the outfielder, he could find time with who made the playoffs last season.
As the year comes to a close, I’d just like to thank everyone who has followed this column. I look forward to continuing my coverage of the Bears as well as the Newark’s other sports teams in 2011.