Randy Savage: Remembering Macho
Man's Minor League Baseball Career
Today is a sad day for sports fans everywhere.
In case you haven't heard, the great "Macho Man" Randy Savage passed away a few short hours ago in Tampa, Florida. According to TMZ, the professional wrestling great suffered a heart attack while driving and then crashed. He was 58.
Needless to say, laments and remembrances are pouring out from all corners, as everyone is sad to lose one of the great entertainers in recent memory.
Personally, I've never been much of a pro wrestling fan. As such, it would be inappropriate and irresponsible for me to sit here and wax poetic about the impact that Macho Man had on the sport.
However, as a baseball man, I think I am inclined to wax poetic about a little-known minor league prospect from the 1970s named Randy Poffo.
Yes, before he strapped on all sorts of colorful clothing and had kids imitating his famous "Ooooooh Yeaahhhhh" catchphrase on schoolyards across America, Macho Man was trying to make it in the world of professional baseball. And as luck would have it, Randy Poffo's career is a pretty neat story.
According to Baseball-Reference.com, Randall Mario Puffo was a two-time All-State catcher at Downers Grove North High School in Illinois. In 1971, he took place in a 200-man open tryout for the St. Louis Cardinals, and he was the only man given a contract.
In 35 games for the Cardinals' Gulf Coast League team, Poffo hit .286 with a pair of home runs, and did not make a single error in 15 games as a catcher.
In 1972, Poffo would go on to hit .272 and make the GCL All-Star team as an outfielder. His 1973 campaign was even more impressive, as he would hit .344 in 25 games for the GCL Red Birds. He got bumped up to Class-A, where he played for the Orangeburg Cardinals under Jimmy Piersall.
Poffo would hit just .250 at Class-A, but he would go on to credit Piersall for "him how to be aggressive and how to fight."
At some point before the 1974 season, he suffered a severe injury to his right arm and shoulder and was subsequently released by the Cardinals.
Because he was right-handed, Poffo probably should have hung up his spikes right then and there. Instead, like a boss, Poffo taught himself to throw left-handed, and continued his career in the Cincinnati Reds organization in 1974.
Poffo would hit a career-best nine home runs and he would finish third in the league with 66 RBIs. Clearly, he was on his way to the show.
However, it was around that time that another career was starting to infringe on Poffo's path to the majors.
Poffo's father, Angelo, had been a successful pro wrestler during the 1950s and 60s, and his brother, Lanny" also had some success in the wrestling industry. It took a while, but Randy Poffo finally made his first foray into the family business during the 1973 offseason.
Mind you, Randy Poffo did not become "Macho Man" Randy Savage right away. Instead, he chose to go by the curious moniker, "The Spider Friend."
After the 1974 season was over, Poffo decided to discontinue his baseball career, and took up wrestling full-time. He had to pay his dues for over a decade, but he finally hit it big when he signed with the WWF in 1985.
So did Randy Poffo make a good career choice by switching to pro wrestling?
Shoot, how can I not say it...