was a Charlie Lau devotee. My Pop actually bought the Ted Williams’ “Science of Hitting” book and USED IT!
And for my Pop, there was — of course — the Stan Musial “thing.”
If Ted Williams wasn’t the greatest baseball player ever, you’d sure have a hard time convincing my Pop — unless of course, you wanted to make an argument for Musial.
So, the entire Musial manifesto (complete with statue) was on full display at the St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame underneath Busch Stadium and we lost almost a full day there. We even ran into Tony Perez (now a very borderline Hall of Famer) walking the streets during lunchtime and we got an autograph.
Once we arrived at our hotel (it was a big circle Rodeway Inn at the edge of town) we bought The St. Louis Dispatch, the local newspaper. I was, even then, a newspaper FANATIC. EVERYWHERE I WENT, I ALWAYS clipped newspapers and saved them. Our relatives sent them from around the country. I just thought they were neat and exotic, because they were from San Diego, California or Galveston, Texas (we had distant relatives there, too) or wherever really. I remember buying a newspaper in Goldsboro, N.C., en route to Myrtle Beach just so I could keep clip out the banner on the front page.
I peeled open The Dispatch to the sports section and there it was — the answers to all of my prayers come true.
It was a bold, large ad for NWA Wrestling TONIGHT at the world-famous Kiel Auditorium.
Ok. Maybe I’ve downplayed my wrestling addiction a bit here. I was a wrestling nut, probably at my zenith as MUCH if not MORE than I was a baseball geek.
Wrestling didn’t have an offseason, like the other sports. There was no rest for these great athletes, competitors and warriors! The squared circle didn’t take a day off!
And once you got addicted to the “crack-like” wrestling fanzines (we called them magazines but whose kidding whom, right?), it was done. There were distant federations with exotic wrestlers. There were “World Champions” other than just Bob Backlund. Guys like Dusty Rhodes, Ric Flair, Harley Race and Nick Bockwinkle.
I knew, ’cause I read about it in Inside Wrestling. Or The Wrestler. Or Pro Wrestling Illustrated. I subscribed to them all, even the ones with those wacky and phony apartment house wrestling, which I’m now convinced was the precursor to internet porn!
My Aunt Clara (my Mom’s youngest sister, who has lived in Newark, Del., for 50 years and STILL maintains the most Southern accent you’ll ever hear) sent me Ranger Rick for about five wasted years in the early 1970′s. Around 1977, my Mom just told her sister, “You might as well just get him the wrestling magazines. These hunting and fishing books are just lying around here unopened.”)
So we ditched our baseball tickets that we bought weeks before to the concierge and we went down to the “World Famous” Kiel Auditorium that night and it was incredible. Somehow we nailed fabulous seats at the box office and on the card were most of my fantasy “magazine” legends: Harley Race would be taking on this young blond hotshot named Ric Flair, for Race’s NWA Title. I had always wanted to see Ric Flair wrestle and he had never been to Baltimore. (Georgia Championship Wrestling and the NWA would invade Baltimore about two years later!)
I waited outside the arena with my camera as the wrestlers got out of their limousines and taxis. There was Baron Von Raschke (he was my favorite bad guy,