Nearly a year to the day before he died, Brian, Eric, and I discussed the idea that I should interview Randy Poffo about his brief minor league career.
Poffo, better known as “Macho Man” Randy Savage, played ever so briefly for the Gulf Coast League Cardinals, the Gulf Coast League Red Birds, the Orangeburg Cardinals, and the Tampa Tarpons. As other people have mentioned, he didn’t play long and after an injury, he changed his name to “Randy Savage” and decided to try the pro wrestling route.
(Here is an absolute must-read article by Jeff Pearlman on Randy Poffo’s love for baseball and his minor league career.)
After agreeing that an interview with Randy Poffo would be a great story, I surfed the web for any contact info for the Macho Man. A visit to a few web sites informed me that he had recently tied the knot, but I failed to find an email or any representative contact information. So I shelved the idea and wrote the name “Macho Man” Randy Savage on my potential interview list.
The problem with putting ideas on the back burner is sometimes they burn away.
Having grown up when pro wrestling was blowing up in a national sense, I was always a big Macho Man fan, as were millions and millions of kids my age. His stories and situations were always among the best and you knew no matter who he fought, he was going to put on a hell of a match. I got into wrestling as he was feuding with George “The Animal” Steele and followed him throughout his WWF/WWE career.
Although he wrestled in various other promotions throughout the late 90s and into the 2000s, I never saw another Macho Man match after he left the WWF. I know better now, but in those days I used to think anything outside of WWF/WWE was an inferior product, with less capable wrestlers. I thought WWF/WWE was “the big leagues” and would never consider “the minors” as equal entertainment.
Funny how things change.
Those who know me well know my interest in lower level baseball is almost matched by my interest in lower level professional wrestling. For that I have to thank my brother, professional wrestler Bryan Maddox. For over six years, he has wrestled throughout the State of Florida, working in the ring or behind the scenes with such legendary names as Haku, Afa the Wild Samoan, Jimmy Hart, and Scott Hall (aka Razor Ramon). Ironically, he was also once on the same card as Randy Poffo’s brother, “The Genius” Lanny Poffo. My brother’s wrestling career has taught me that like the bus leagues, it takes years of dedication, hard work, and several lucky breaks to make it in professional wrestling.
There were several times I talked to my brother about my idea to interview the Macho Man. Every time I mentioned it, he concurred that it would make a great story and that I was the right person to do it. Unfortunately, I never attempted to use his contacts to track down the Macho Man.
In January of this year, as we planned the Bus Leagues agenda, I reiterated to Brian and Eric how this would be the year I would interview Randy Savage. “My goal this year is to interview Macho Man Randy Savage on his minor league career. I don’t care who I have to elbow drop,” I wrote in an email to them.
“I’ll say now what I said when you first mentioned it: that would be completely awesome,” Brian wrote back.
“That would need to be on the site. We could not hold that for a book. Everyone would link to an interview with Randy Poffo. We would win the internet for the day,” I replied.
Two weeks ago, and only 10 days before he died, I again wrote to Eric and Brian that I was going to pursue the Macho Man interview. I now work in Sarasota and it would be convenient for me to drive from work one evening and talk to the legendary former grappler. All I had to do was find the right contact and line it up.
Once again, however, my effort to find a contact was minimal. I did another cursory glance at a few web sites, but didn’t consult the Rolodex or push the issue at all.
Sadly, the world mourned the passing of “Macho Man” Randy Savage on May 20th. Sports Illustrated published pictures of Savage in his minor league uniform, ESPN interviewed Larry Herndon of the Lakeland Flying Tigers on his time playing alongside Savage, and even Deadspin.com discussed Savage’s minor league exploits.
After learning of the car accident that took his life, I logged on to twitter to express my sadness with millions of other people, from casual fans to full-blown “Macho Maniacs”. Among my tweets about Savage was a casual mention that he was one of my “dream interview subjects”.
Shortly after that tweet, I received a reply from a local Tampa Bay Bucs blogger. He told me that he not only lived by the Macho Man, but even had his cell phone number. He told me that although Savage was quiet in regards to wrestling, he loved talking baseball. He even mentioned that Macho Man talked often about his time playing with Andy Van Slyke, Keith Hernandez, and Vince Coleman.
I was crushed.
I missed out on a golden opportunity. All I had to do was ask every journalistic contact I had, “Looking to interview Macho Man about baseball, anyone have a contact?” and I am sure the Bucs blogger would have come through. Or he would have at least tried to make it happen.
But I never contacted anyone. I never made an effort outside of talking about it.
(As I write this I can imagine the Macho Man saying, “Talk is cheap, yeah. Actions speak louder than words. And words written are words read. Dig it?”)
Needless to say, I learned a very valuable lesson. Never put a great idea on the back burner. I thought I had all the time in the world, but as a friend of mine likes to say, “Time is the most precious commodity”.
You never know when it will run out.
Tonight I found my potential interview list and sadly struck a line through the name “Macho Man” Randy Savage.