Thursday, June 7, 2012

Home Runs and Headlocks: Minor League Baseball and Pro Wrestling

(This post originally appeared on Bus Leagues

Like baseball, pro wrestling is as American as apple pie, Mom tattoos, and the 4th of July. Pro wrestling is part athletic spectacle, part entertainment, and in most cases, inexpensive fun for the whole family. Characteristics shared with Minor League Baseball.

Way back in 1999, I attended a Brevard County Manatees game that featured special guest Mick Foley, aka WWE legend Mankind/Dude Love/Cactus Jack. Foley was in town promoting his new book and signing autographs. I took my brother, who was a huge wrestling fan, and he got Foley's John Hancock in his book. Foley threw out the first pitch, grappled with the mascot, and his son filled the role of ball boy for the Manatees.

Foley has made a lot of appearances at Minor League games throughout his long wrestling career. So too have many other wrestlers. Inspired by George "The Animal" Steele's recent highlight-producing appearance this past weekend in Rochester, I decided to look up some other upcoming Minor League Baseball wrestling-themed promotions which include appearances by some of the biggest names in the history of the squared circle.

June 12 - Bret "The Hitman" Hart - Richmond Flying Squirrels - Richmond, VA

June 13 - Bret "The Hitman" Hart - Bowie Baysox - Bowie, MD

June 14 - Bret "The Hitman" Hart - Wilmington Blue Rocks - Wilmington, DE

June 15 - Bret "The Hitman" Hart - Reading Phillies - Reading, PA

June 16 - Bret "The Hitman" Hart - Lakewood Blue Claws - Lakewood, NJ

June 23 - Jerry "The King" Lawler - Hickory Crawdads - Hickory, NC

June 27 - David Otunga, Zach Ryder, Lilian Garcia, Natalya - WWE Anti-Bullying Night - Brooklyn Cyclones - Brooklyn, NY

June 28 - MWE Wrestling Night - Harrisburg Curve - Harrisburg, PA

June 29 - SGT Slaughter - Daytona Cubs - Daytona Beach, FL

July 5 - SGT Slaughter - Lakeshore Chinooks - Grafton, WI

July 24 - SGT Slaughter - Portland Sea Dogs - Portland, ME

July 27 - Hacksaw Jim Duggan - Frederick Keys - Frederick, MD

July 28 - SGT Slaughter - Columbus Clippers - Columbus, OH

July 29 - Matt Hardy, Carlito, Tommy Dreamer, and Rhino - Baseball Brawl III - Mahoning Valley Scrappers - Niles, OH

Aug 3 - Hacksaw Jim Duggan - Myrtle Beach Pelicans - Myrtle Beach, SC

Aug 6 - Hacksaw Jim Duggan - Akron Aeros - Akron, OH

Aug 24 - SGT Slaughter - Military Appreciation Night - Lynchburg Hillcats -Lynchburg, TN

Sept 1 - Midget Wrestling - Richmond Flying Squirrels - Richmond, VA

As for my brother, the wrestling fan who wanted Mick Foley's autograph thirteen years ago, he is currently a pro wrestler himself. He is the Heavyweight Champion of WWE Hall of Famer Afa The Wild Samoan's Central Florida-based World X-Treme Wrestling. Coincidentally, they are having an event on August 3rd in Pat Thomas Stadium in Leesburg, Florida, current home of the collegiate summer league Leesburg Lightning and former home to the many Florida State League teams that called Leesburg home from 1937 to 1968.