Big Lead Sports Bar


Wanted: Your In-Person Encounters with Athletes

I posted a small blurb a few days ago featuring some candid photos of several young Pirates out on the town. Judging by the comments, it appears that I may have struck a nerve with fans who wish to speak out for or against certain players.

Most everyone has had some type of encounter with a pro athlete, be it by choice or by accident. I thought it would be really interesting to hear more stories of your interactions with the jockocracy. So I am challenging the Mondesi Nation to use the comment section and share some of your experiences.

Sometimes meeting a player in person can really change how you see them. For instance, after my dealings with Yancey Thigpen, which you can read below, I found it very hard to root for the guy in the future.

Personally, I've had the opportunity to meet a number of players over the years, through work or by chance. I'll kick-start this topic with a few of my stories:

Gordie Howe: I attended the 1990 NHL All Star Skills Competition with my family. We were lucky enough to be sitting in a box that night, and on our way back from the restroom, my dad swore he saw Gordie enter a neighboring box nearby. He knocked on the box door and an older woman answered. He asked if that was really Gordie Howe entering the box, because his sons didn't believe him. The woman replied, "I should know, he is my husband!". Mrs. Howe grabbed Gordie, told him he had visitors, and he quickly appeared and put my brother and I in headlocks. He then signed our programs. Couldn't have been cooler.

Ben Howland and Barry Rohrssen: Now the current head basketball coaches at UCLA and Manhattan, I had lunch with them at a high school basketball banquet in 2000 when they were both coaching at Pitt. Howland definitely has a presence, you'd want to run through a wall after listening to one of his speeches. Both were nice guys.

Dan Marino: Actually met him twice at corporate events in the late 1990s. Very friendly, signed a ton of autographs

Derek Bell: Saw him dancing at Donzi's while he was on the DL in 2001. More or less a completely surreal experience.

Frank Thomas: Met him outside a White Sox game in the player's lot in 1993, along with Bo Jackson and Robin Ventura. All were very nice and signed multiple autographs.

Joe Montana: I had heard plenty of horror stories about Joe, but I had the opportunity to work with him at a 2002 YMCA event at Southpointe. He was being honored by his local YMCA at a black tie dinner, and I was in charge of the auction at the event. He was actually very nice, held a small press conference for local media, and posed for a picture with me. Unfortunately, the laptop which held that priceless photo was destroyed by a tragic Diet Pepsi spill.

Mario Lemieux: The ultimate pro, time and time again. Held his elevator door open to sign my Penguins jersey at a game in 1994.

Mark Bruener: Came out to our store in his rookie season of 1995 for a charity signing. Signed for every last person in line, then had a sandwich with us and signed a stack of rookie cards for me while he was eating. Very well-spoken, intelligent guy, will probably be on TV or radio someday.

Tim Wakefield: Had him at our store for an autograph signing in 1992, right after the NLCS when he really burst upon the scene. Raised a lot of cash for charity, but refused to show anyone how to grip a knuckleball.

Troy Polamalu: Very quiet, but nice. I was in attendance at his first private memorabilia signing after the Super Bowl, and he was overwhelmed with what he was expected to sign. Looking at this picture, you can imagine why he might feel that way.

Yancey Thigpen: Probably the worst experience I've ever had with an athlete. We had him booked for an autograph signing in December, 1997 on a Friday night. He was supposed to sign from 7-8:30 for the public, then we would get him for the last half hour to sign items we were going to sell after the appearance, to offset the cost of having him there.

He shows up a half hour late at 7:30, then he wants to leave at 8....he said he had important things to do (translation: party). After being told that he had to sign for the rest of the people in line, he would not look up for photos and generally acted like a boob. Once the public portion was over, it was time for the private part. He took one look at our items and proclaimed he would not sign them.

His booking agent was in full damage control mode and promised that if we packed up all the photos, mini helmets, jerseys, and cards, Yancey would sign them and they would send them back to us. Not only did we never get the items back signed, we never got them back, PERIOD! And then the number of the booking agent went dead.

So that should hopefully get you started and trigger your memory bank...I'm looking forward to some interesting posts from the Mondesi faithful.


Anonymous said...

One good story, one bad one......I was fortunate enough to be a ball boy for the Pirates during a 3 game series with the Cubs in 1989. I was starstruck sitting in the dugout spitting seeds with legends like Spanky LaValliere, Bobby Bonilla, Doug Drabek, and Barry Bonds. But, the coolest Pirate was Chico Lind...who took two nervous ball boys out into the middle of the infield of Three Rivers Stadium and played a game of catch with us before batting practice. The players were great and almost everyone signed autographs for me except...
Andy Van Slyke.
Van Slyke, a Pittsburgh Pirate who is revered in most Yinzers' memories, was more or less a complete jerk. I remember walking up to him in the dugout with my fellow BB (he was the only person in the dugout, not talking to anyone, just sitting there relaxing) to ask for an autograph and he completely reamed us out for bothering him. Maybe he had a tough day or something was on his mind, but you don't do that to a couple of 12 year old kids. Van Slyke is like David Simms from the movie, Tin Cup, that says all the right things when a camers is on him, but, in reality, hates dogs and children.

Anonymous said...

I used to work for a very well known Pittsburgh company that provides a service to the homes of many Pittsburgh sports figures. Here's a quick rundown of some of my dealings and accounts that I've heard about from fellow employees:

Mario Lemieux: Biggest asshole ever
Ben Roethlisburger: Really nice guy
Joey Porter: Nice, but seemed a little crazy
Amos Zereoue: Practically illiterate
Mark Bruener: Nice guy, very cordial
Mark Madden: Ranting, raving lunatic
Jerome Bettis: Seemed like a good guy but pretty clueless
Casey Hampton: Arrogant and barely spoke English
Jason Kendall: Idiot
Dave Littlefield: Nice, but bumbling
Hines Ward: Super nice
Plaxico Burress: Unintelligible over the phone

Granted, we were dealing with these guys in a quasi-professional setting...but it's funny how life imitates art.

Greg said...

I was in Florida for Red Sox spring training (my buddy knew a guy in the minors for them) and coincidentally, we were staying in the same hotel that Jevon Kearse was having some charity thing at. (note: I'm probably 14 years old at this time). I ended up in the elevator with Warren Sapp and some of his buddies and they were talking about how they were staying in "DA SHIT HOUSE" (i think he was talking about the penthouse). I look at him and he can obviously tell that I know who he is and in response he goes "HOW MUCH MONEY YOU GOT!?!" in a Stephan A. Smith-esque voice. I respond with "not enough for you" in the nerdy pimply faced kid from the Simpsons voice as any 14 year old kid would have. That was it.

Anonymous said...

I have a great Andy Van Slyke story for you. A few years ago I was paired-up to play with him in the Mario Lemieux Celebrity Invitational. In the golf cart on the way to the first hole there were all kinds of kids, 10-12 year-olds, looking for autographs. These kids, who obviously had never seen him play and didn't really know him were running after us yelling, "Mr. Slyke! Mr. Slyke can we have your autograph?"

He turned around and yelled, "It's Van Slyke kid and NO!

Anonymous said...

I was at Margarita Mama's last summer with my fiance and a few of her friends. I was obviously the 5th wheel at a girl's night out, so I ducked out around 11. After I left and was fast asleep, I am awaken by a call from my fiance who says that Daryle Ward was there and that he "offered" her his seat. Now, we ALL know what D-Bag's intention was during his year-long slump. So, every now and then I like to harass her by saying "You are the only hit Daryle Ward thought he had last summer".

Anonymous said...

Van Slyke couldn't have been nicer when I met him in '91, but no one cares about those stories. Here's a couple of bad ones:

Gary Carter: Saw him sitting alone on a bench at the Lemieux tourney a few years back, basically sitting on his thumb. I approached him and said "Mr. Carter, you were my favorite player as a kid (it's true, actually), would you mind signing an autograph for me?" He responded "Are you kidding me? You're just going to sell it on the internet. Absolutely not." My buddy, in a moment of brilliance, said "Don't flatter yourself, Gary. We'd get more for a used tampon than your signature." His Hall of Fame plaque looks like an effed-up Roger Waters with an absurd Expos hat perched atop his gourd; proof there is sweet, sweet justice in this world.

Greg Norman: 1994 U.S. Open at Oakmont. I was in junior high when I approached that Aussie bastard near the player's locker room after a round. I asked for autograph--on my Shark hat, mind you--to which he replied "Go the f*ck away." Thankfully, Norman continued to wear his conductor's hat aboard the choke train, which makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. And his wine tastes like cat piss.

Anonymous said...

I've found that with some athletes it depends on when you catch them. For ex., all the Mario Lemieux stories I've heard from early in his career are good, but all the more recent ones make him look like an asshole.

I go to Pirates spring training and late in the game I'll go down to the bullpen. You get really close to the players there. Here's my impression of some of the players:

Jack Wilson: Signs autographs for everyone. Not overly chatty. Just kind of silently signs and moves onto the next person.

Jose Castillo: He signs autographs but doesn't seem too friendly... could be because he doesn't speak english that well?

Bautista: Seems really friendly to the people, but not talkative at all. Possibly a language thing though.

Craig Wilson: Funny guy. VERY down to earth. Actually bullshits with the fans when chasing foul balls that are hit out of play. Sucks to see him go.

Jason Bay: When he's leaving the field fans always yell for his autograph. He either ignores them, or says he'll be back out and never returns. Not really rude, just elusive.

Ian Snell: Really friendly guy. Kids around with the little kids. Also seems especially friendly towards the ladies.

Sean Casey: His reputation is 100% true. I think the guy just likes to shoot the shit with people. I saw him by the fence in the bullpen after he came out of a game just talking to a crowd of random fans like he'd known them forever. Dare I say OVERLY friendly.

Dave Littlefield: He's known to wander around at Spring Training and introduce himself to random fans and talk with them. I've met him twice. Very nice guy... too bad he has no clue what the hell he's doing.

As for non Pirates spring training experiences:

Jaromir Jagr and Matthew Barnaby asked my sister's friend to go to their hotel with them after a Penguins game in Tampa back in the day. She was able to resist the power of the mullet, and didn't go.

Not really a personal story, but I've lived in Tampa for awhile and have heard SEVERAL stories about Warren Sapp from when he played here. Honestly, I have yet to hear a positive story from anyone that has met him. The guy's a HUUUUGE prick.

Speaking of pricks, Barry Bonds actually signed my program at Three Rivers Stadium when I was little. It was pretty early in his career.

Anonymous said...

A few stories:

Jerome Bettis:
Several years ago i worked as a part time producer for KDKA radio. One of my jobs was to help with "onsite" broadcasts, which afforded me the chance to work the Jerome Bettis show every Monday Night during the football season. He would be on the air for one hour with Paul Alexander.

I mostly hung out with Jerome's bodyguard/assistant Larry. Larry was a short black man who was in very good shape, he wore lots of big rings on both of his hands. Larry was hilarious, he nicknamed both of his fists, he used to be a boxer, and he would even poke fun at Jerome from time to time.

After a few weeks i got the guts to talk to Jerome, he was very friendly. He signed my jersey, and my Jerome Bettis Bobblehead. He also agreed to take a picture with me, {fortunetly mine is a hardcopy, not on a laptop}. All in all a very nice guy, we talked about a future Pitt Notre Dame football game, Bettis asked me about Pitt's team, and boasted about ND winning easily, which i think they did.


Bob Walk
I shared an elevator ride with Pirate Broadcaster Bob Walk, also during my stint with KDKA radio. Walk was with his son, i held the door for them. I didn't say anything to him, i really didn't know what to say at the time since i would eventually be in the press box with him. He talked to his son mostly.

Scotty Bowman
I sat next to Scotty at Tessaros Restaurant in Bloomfield when he was the head coach of the Pens. I was young, 12 years old i think. My father made it clear NOT to interrupt him, he was eating dinner. No one bothered Bowman his entire time there. To bad the Pens didn't keep him aronud.


I never met Van Slyke, but i have heard numerous stories that he was a jerk.

A buddy of mine installed Big Ben's hot tub, he said Ben's place was pretty dirty, clothes everywhere. I can't blame the guy, if i was 23 and a millionaire, i wouldnt clean up after myself either.

Alan Faneca get's his hair cut at my father's salon, Alan is very quiet and friendly.

Anonymous said...

As for Craiggers:

A good friend of mine LOVES Craiggers and met him at Pirate Fest a few years ago. They were sitting on a bench next to each other talking when a little kid came up and asked which one of them was Craig Wilson. Craiggers pointed to my friend and said "that's Craig." My buddy couldn't go through with it, and Craig signed the kids autograph.

Anonymous said...

Eric Dickerson: I anonymously bought Eric Dickerson a lap dance at a strip bar in Indy in 1988.

Charles Barkley: I saw him in a restaurant in Scottsdale (but didn't buy him a lap dance). As I went to go say something to him he shot me a look that basically said, "you might get a financial settlement from our altercation, but it won't be worth it".

Omar Moreno (how about THAT for a blast from the past): I was about 13 or 14 when he lived in the same apratment complex in Banksville (Hyland Hills). He would often play catch with me and a few friends. What a great guy!

Lyn St. James: Before Danica, there was Lyn. Had the chance to shoot an interview with her but did not buy her a lap dance either.

Sean said...

I was in junior high when the NHL All-Star game was in Pittsburgh (1990?) and went to the hotel where the players were staying. Wayne Gretzey signed autographs in the lobby for at least an hour for hundreds of people. Mario tried to get through the hotel as quickly as possible and signed maybe 5 autographs. Of course, my brother was one of those 5.

Anonymous said...

I met Brian Giles at 3 Rivers back in 1999. For all the bad rap this guy gets, he was a really personable guy. You may recall in the mid-1999 On Deck that featured him he had pics of his two dogs in there. I've got the same type of dog as Giles and we actually spent some time talking about them. Got an autograph too. Really friendly guy.

Also, my dad met Barry Bonds in 1986 (rookie year) and said nothing but good things about him--said he was a soft spoken guy who seemed to reach out to all the fans there.

I've also had positive encounters with Wells, Fogg, J. Wilson, Sanchez, Benson, Wehner, Sauerbeck, and Chuck Tanner. Never got to meet Craig Wilson but I heard he was really cool.

Anonymous said...

I've only had a couple of athlete encounters. None the less, I am still proud of them.

First, was halloween. 1996. I was about 14 years old and we were trick or treatin' around the North Park Villa's. Esp. cause of all the rich bastards that live there. They're either rude, or cool as hell. First couple houses we went to with celebs were John Fedco and Louis Lipps but then at the bottom of a hill, all by itself was a giant white house where our favorite guy lived. THE BUS! His wife came to the door first and said "honey! we got some scarey visitors!" The bus came to the door and dropped about four Giant Sized Clark Bars in our pillow cases and gave us some free go-cart passes at Wildwood Highlands (a go-cart / arcade place). Awesome dude, I think he was drunk though.

Years later when I was 18 or 19, I was working as an electrician and we were lucky enough to wire up some new locker rooms for the Pgh Forge at the Nevill Island Ice Complex. As you know thats where the Pens practice. Everyday we would sit around and watch Jagr, Lemeiux, Stevens, and a bunch of others practice. We were told not to bother them but I was never any good at following directions. All of a sudden I saw Mario leave the ice and I made my move. I ran down the hallway and spotted him getting pissed at a PowerAid machine. It wouldn't take his dollar. I walked up to him and offered him one of mine. We had some brief chit chat about his practice and he signed his crumpled dollar and gave it to me. I was so nervous and he was very intimidating, On skates he was like 6' 9''. Awesome dude though and I will never forget that. I was shakin like crazy for the next 20 mins. Plus I got reamed by my boss. But I didn't care.

A couple of weeks later we were all standing around t.v.'s in the lobby / restaurant area gasping at the news of some airplanes crashing into the world trade center. Some Neville Island people, us construction workers, and the Pens were all standin there in disbelief. Then another one hit and some of the guys started to run for the locker rooms. That was a very horrible day that I spent with the Pittsbugh Pens but (as I'm sure all of you wont either) I will never forget where I was and who I was with when I heard that that shit happened.

Anonymous said...

I go back a ways, have a couple stories ... I was the beat guy for the 1983 Pirates for one of the suburban dailes.

1. We were at the airport, on our way out of Montreal, and I had maybe $12 Canadian on me that I wanted to get rid of before we left. I'd heard there was a pretty good ice cream stand in the airport and figured I could lose a couple-three bucks there. Johnny Ray was in line behind me. I told the person at the counter, "I'll pay for his, too." And suddenly -- I have no idea where they all came from -- there were, like, a half dozen Pirates in line going "Me too! Me too!" I thought, so, you can make $100,000 a year and still be a cheap bastard. But I meant it in a good way.

2. Also in Montreal, Lee Mazzilli and I were sitting on opposite sides of a hallway, waiting for the bus to the ballpark. Rick Rhoden's wife came sashaying between us wearing something that looked like it had been pieced together at a Beverly Hills quilting bee. My eyes followed her out the door, and out of the corner I could see Maz's eyes following her too. Then we looked at each other and broke up laughing.

3. We were flying home from Chicago through a thunderstorm. I had the window seat, and Lanny Frattare was next to me. I was watching lightning flash off the wings and feeling the plane lurch around, and the thought ran through my head, "I could die on this plane." Then I turned and looked at Lanny, and he was looking out the window too. His face was sheet-white and his mouth had dropped open -- I think "agape" is the word that fits -- and I thought, "I briefly thought about dying. He looks like he hasn't thought of anything else since the plane took off." The passengers gave the pilot an ovation when he set the wheels down, but everyone was still pretty subdued until we all got on the bus. From the back Rich Hebner shouted, "It's good to be back in the Steel City!" and everyone broke up and everything was fine again.

4. Dave Parker and I were walking in a clump of people down an airport ramp when he suddenly turned to me and said, "How come I never see you out chasin' no pussy?" For one of the few times in my life, a good answer came to me: "Well, David, I guess we just don't drink in the same bars."

5. There was a bus trip during which Hebner and Parker played that dozens that was too obscene to recount here.

6. There was a game where Tanner got to the ninth inning and ordinarily would have used a lefty pinch hitter. He had Hebner, but sent up a righty instead, who made out and the Pirates lost. I'd seen Hebner in the clubhouse before the game so I figured he was available. When we went in Chuck's office after, I asked, "Chuck, was there something wrong with Hebner?" He narrowed his eyes. "Why do you want to know?" "Because if he was OK you'd have used him in the ninth." Chuck said, "Yeah, I was gonna get him out of a f***in' sickbed." I said, "I didn't know he was sick." Tanner said, "Then you must not be doing your f***in' job." The whole room is silent for a few seconds, and I feel three inches tall. Some other reporters ask a few questions, and while they do Charlie Feeney, who was as good a baseball reporter as ever lived, makes his way into the office and up by Tanner's desk, and when he gets a chance, he asks, "Chuck, was something wrong with Hebner?" Everyone held his breath, but Tanner gave Charlie a polite answer. I said, "Hey! You yelled at ME when I asked that!" by now the room is pretty much dissolving in laughter, including Tanner.

It was one of the very very few bad encounters I had with Chuck -- he really is as cheerful and positive as it's possible to be. Of course, he also let a drug supermarket flourish in his clubhouse, so what's that attitude thing worth?

Rory said...

About five/six years ago I was working as a Baker at the Irwin Eat n' Park. When I snuck out of work early still reaking of muffins and with cookie crumbs in my hair to catch the tail end of the Mike Tomczak retirement press conference at St. Vincent.

I was by no means a Mike Tomczak fan, but I did enjoy his ungodly hot wife who also happened to be my former sixth grade teacher. I make it over there and they're talking to Jay Hayes, (the man responsible for the AFC Championship loss that year) when I speak out her maiden name. She looks at me and after nine some years recognizes me by name. It was awesome.

Worst part of story: she's telling me where she lives and the whole time I'm thinking, "why do I need to know where she lives." Then she tells me of this huge retirement party they're having at their place with current and former players and coaches. I never put two and two together that she might be casually inviting me.

Best part of story: We get some picture before everyone leaves: ( and right before posing for a picture I extend my hand to Mike Tomczak and say "Hey Mr. Tomczak your wife used to be my teacher." and while he shaking my hand he says, "Yeah, well she's mine now."

Steeltown Mike said...

Aside from the interview I conducted live on air with Ike Taylor, which went really well (click to listen, if you'd like), I was at Piratefest this past year and was in the Zach Duke or Chris Duffy line (wasn't sure if I was going to be at the tail end of Duke, or be among the first for Duffy cuz it was about time to switch). I'm not much of an autograph seeker, anyway, so it didn't matter.

Turns out it was Duffy. Duke seemed to be a mite overwhelmed. Did not wave to the crowd as he left, did not make eye contact, just gone. Anyway, Duffy makes out the autograph, I shake hands with him and say, "Best of luck, and stay healthy, my friend." I received a genuine smile and thank you. Then it hits me this guy is about my younger brother's age...

Bill Hillgrove was very cordial when I interviewed him just after Memorial Day, both in granting the interview and in the conducting of it.

I was also in the tunnel at Three Rivers Stadium circa 1980 at the end of a Steeler game, and Joe Greene gave me his game-worn jersey for my Coca-Cola..., wait. That wasn't me...

Steeltown Mike said...

Forgot one:

Wes Chamberlain. Former Philly, playing at the time with the Schaumburg Flyers.

My best friend from college loved this player, and he was getting married soon. When I found out my company picnic that year (Summer '01) was at a Flyers game AND that Wes Chamberlain was on the team, I grabbed the video camera, a baseball, and went to the game with the sole mission of getting his auto.

Schaumburg plays like a little league team, so I start talking to event staff and people of that nature, inquiring where autographs might be most likely to be signed after a losing cause and things like that.

One of the guys led me right to Wes's wife and a gaggle of his children. I hung out with them and explained the situation. So, after the game, the Flyers stayed on the field to learn how to handle ground balls and turn double plays and stuff. Then, finally, Wes came over to the wall by the on-deck circle and proceeded to cheerily sign my ball, as well as say, "Congratulations, Justin, to you and your wife. God bless you all" straight into the camera. Very, very polite, despite having an oh-fer and his team getting pounded.

So, as a wedding present, I presented Justin with a signed ball in one of those "things remembered" type of gloves, and a copy of the video. Yes. Sports memorabilia as a wedding present. Nothing less for him. Yinz guys can probably relate.

Anonymous said...

In another life I was a reporter who covered the super Steelers of the 70s, so I met and knew those guys pretty well. A terrific group. The only person I stayed away from was Jack Lambert. He seemed like a real psycho, very surly. The guy who could really make your skin crawl was Chuck Noll. God I don't think I ever met a man who could be as acidic as him. Some of his famous remarks: "Franco who?" His answer to a question about contract holdout Franco Harris. When asked another year about another holdout, rookie Rod Woodson, Noll replied, "I don't know how good he can be, we've only seen him run around in his underpants."

Something that most Steeler fans don't know is that Terry Bradshaw had his arm operated on in the spring without the Steelers knowing he was doing it. People question why the Steelers didn't draft Dan Marino, that was why. They had what they thought was a healthy Bradshaw, Cliff Stoudt and either Mike Kruczek or Mark Malone, I'm not sure which. They thought they were loaded at quarterback. Noll was not a guy you wanted to be around at that camp, I'll tell you. I can vividly remember Phil Musick, Vito Stellino, Jack Fleming and others asking questions in the postgame and getting these answers that would be just dripping with sarcasm. Noll was the boss, er emperor, and he let everyone around him know it, every chance he could.

Anonymous said...

I met Phil Bourque at an airport shuttle right after the first cup. He was really cool and had a sweet mullet.

I saw Kip Wells and Josh Fogg at Sanctuary one night. Kip Wells was just as intimated by all the girls as he is opposing hitters. Josh Fogg was comparable in terms of game as he is in pitching prowess. Needless to say, a plethora of fat girls didn't get turned away.

Chevy Toutman was not cleared to play for a UConn game a few years back. Which was really funny because I saw him grinding his weiner into everything that walked at Hi Tops the night before. Ankle looked fine to me.

I saw Big Ben the weekend before his motorcycle accident at Red Star in Station Square. Can't really say anything except that he played arcade bowling the whole night and posed for a thousand pictures. I was starting to feel sorry for his lack of privacy until I realized how large his checkbook is and how that comes with the turf.

Former Pitt kicker Josh Cummings frequented Tequila Willie's quite a bit.

Dave Chappelle isn't an athlete but his encounter was strange nonetheless. He was playing his final show at the Improv at the Waterfront. It was his final show on a Saturday night on the eve of the Steelers thrashing the Eagles two years ago. He had nothing else to do so he went on stage for over an hour extra. After the show he hung out and signed some DVDs. The funny part was how he was signing them. He was hanging out the window of his tour bus and BSing with everyone. He thanked everyone for coming out and seemed to really appreciate all his fans. This was pre-meltdown of course, so I'm sure people have had some negative encounters with him recently.

Anonymous said...


My favorite Noll line is, "Sidney has many problems, and they are great."

Anonymous said...

I forgot about this one, not sure if it counts as an athlete but...

About 4 years ago I was in Orlando airport at about 9 am dropping someone off. I get on the elevator to the parking garage, and I hear a deep voice bellow "Hey bro, can you hold that door!"

So I hold the door, and the person on the other end is professional wrestler Razor Ramon wearing an nwo wrestling T shirt.

He was really big, but he was limping around quite a bit. I guess even though wrestling's all preplanned, those guys still take a beating day in and day out.

So I decide to strike up a conversation with him. He was very nice and shook my hand. I didn't have a camera on me or anything for him to sign unfortunately.

BUT, I did notice that the guy absolutely WREAKED of alcohol. I'm pretty sure Razor was totally shitfaced. And to make matters worse, he got off the elevator and marched directly to the rent-a-car desk.

So I'm pretty sure Razor Ramon was driving around Orlando shitfaced at 9 am that day. But I'll give him a pass, because A. I myself was still drunk from the night before, and B. He was REALLY nice and friendly.

PS. I've heard Dave Chappelle tries VERY hard to live just like a normal guy, so your story doesn't surprise me. I heard he lives in a small town in Ohio now, and all the townspeople respect his wish to be just a normal guy (::cough:: with a zillion dollars) and treat him like he's just another of their neighbors.

Anonymous said...

That Razor Ramon story totally jogged my memory. I parked in an alley on the north side at a Steeler game in 92 or 93. When I returned to the alley, I found that all 6 of us that parked there had been towed. So, after getting a cab and fighting through traffic to the tow pound (which is in the strip district), I was waiting to pay and get my car back and who do I see? Virgil, the Million Dollar Man's bodyguard, who had his car towed from that same alley. Seemed like a good dude.

Unknown said...

About a week before the 1978 season (I was 8 then), my dad and I were invited by one of the Steelers' scouts (Tim Rooney) to come down and watch a practice.

We watched part of the practice, then hung around with Art Sr. and Phil Musick in the dugout before going into the locker room.

You can imagine my reaction. I walked around for about an hour and met everybody. LC Greenwood was on the training table.

Bradshaw spent about 15 minutes with me and my dad, in front of his locker. I even predicted their record that year (14-2).

There was another player in the locker to his left, who asked "Who are your 3 favorite Steelers?" I immediately said Bradshaw, Franco, and then, because either I didn't want the guy to feel bad, or because I was an incredible suck-up, took a look at the name on his locker and smiled while I said "...and Tony Dungy"

Anonymous said...

Big Ben: Less than 10 days after his accident(while Steelers fans everywhere were still crapping their pants about)I saw Ben having a party in his driveway complete with pop up tents, ping pong and police protection. My friend and I waved from the car and he waved back like he knew us.

I had the misfortune of working where the Pats stayed for Super Bowl in 05. Here's a brief rundown:
Brady: As big of an a-hole as you think he is.
Bruschi: Really nice, signed autographs for everyone
Belichick: Zero personality and was annoyed when the players stopped for fans (even though the Pats' fans showing that year was pathetic)
Deion Branch: Have met him twice now,seems nice
Mike Vrabel: Offered to carry a hug box for me when he saw I was struggling (yes, I'm a girl) then saw my Steelers pin and had the decency to say that we had a great team.

Anonymous said...

Great stories everyone! I have a bunch to share but not enough time right now.

Anonymous said...

I suppose most every Steeler fan has an Art Rooney storie so here is mine.
One Saturday afternoon in the early summer of 1977 being an all knowing fifteen year old my brother, 2 friends and I were attempting to sneak into Three Rivers Stadium, totally unaware that practice for QB's, kickers and rookies was taking place.
I guess this was a form of mini-camp back then.
We managed to slip into the stadium unoticed and onto the field where, to our amazement, Bradshaw and the backup QB's, the kickers and all the rookies just drafted a few months earlier were going through their workouts.
We started to walk around the field on the warning track trying not to be noticed where a huge man was running toward us. Not knowing his name we asked him who he was and with military style he answered "Robin Cole - Linebacker - New Mexico"! and just kept running. I was expecting something like "Don't bother me kid!". So he was very cool.
Next we headed to the dugout where a whitehaired man with a cigar in his mouth was standing and observing. We all knew who this man was. The called him "The Cheif". Mr. Rooney was the "Steelers" and we just stood there in awe!
He finally noticed us and asked us how we got in the stadium, we answered "Through that gate over there" pointing to the center field wall which was wide open. He told us we shouldn't be on the field but he didn't have us thrown out. Instead he brought us onto the field and introduced us to Terry Bradshaw and the other players there! What a thrill for a bunch of teenagers from Beechview!
Bradshaw asked us if we played any football and I excitedly said "Yes! I play on my high school team!" He asked what position and I answered "I play Linebacker and Tight End."
That's when he asked if we wanted to go out for a few passes with my two friends trying to cover us. I Said "are you kidding?" He said "No! I'll toss you boys a few passes and see if you can catch em". We were thrilled!
We huddled up and he drew up a play, like a sand lot game, and first sent me on a post play.
He threw me 3 passes then threw my brother and my friends a few passes before Chuck Knoll put a stop to it. Coach Knoll wanted to get on with practice I guess.
We were then invited by Mr. Rooney to stay and watch practice from the dugout! He even got each of us a Coke to drink!
What a day we had! It was one of those day you never forget!

Anonymous said...

I am a huge Adam Vinatieri fan and have been since way before the "kicks" made him famous. I knew Adam was a great signer, so I went to the December 22, 2001 game wearing my Vinatieri jersey. The weather was cold, about 30 degrees. After the game, I head out back of the stadium to grab some autos. Adam never showed up at the ususal spot. After an hour of waiting, I hear he is at another spot. When I get there I am told I just missed him. I wait another hour till the security guards ask us to leave, all the players are gone. As I am walking to the car, I see a guy with an Adam signed helmet. I ask him about it and he tells me he just got in his truck "over there". I wait beside the road and here comes Adam. As he drives up, I rip open my jacket and holler, "PLEASE SIGN MY JERSEY!" And he keeps right on going by. He gets about 50 feet from me and about 10 other collectors and STOPS! A few of us gather around as he signs through his window. All night I had been talking to a lady and her daughter who were Adam fans. She dosen't realize I am there and tells Adam that she wishes "a guy who is a huge fan of yours was here. He wants his jersey signed badly." I raise my hand and tell Adam I am right here. I wait until everyone else gets what they want and Adam gets to me. He gets out of the truck and signs the back of my jersey. I am in heaven! He then ask if I would like a picture with him. Are you kidding? OH YEAH! He throws his arm around me and a stanger takes the pic. By this time I am shaking I am so happy. He shakes my hand and thanks me for being such a big fan. I peek into his truck and see his lady sitting there (HOLY HOTTIE!) and thank her for her patience with us collectors. She smiles and says no problem.

I walk away on air, thrilled beyond belief. My best friend thinks I am crazy wanting a kickers auto on a jersey....then a few weeks later he kicks the winner against the Rams. I was offered alot of cash for the jersey, but would never part with it. Adam is one of the nicest guys you could ever meet and if you get the chance to, take it, you won't regret it.

Anonymous said...

I was a huge WWF fan back in the day when WWF was "Real"...lolol.

So when I moved back to Da Burgh, I moved to Oakdale. Got an apartment, on the first floor, and blasted my sub-woofers...which got me a notice from the office, cause I was disturbing my upstairs Neighbor...

I was working out down at the club-house when I met my upstairs neighbor, the one who ratted on me to the office...

It was none other than "Virgil", the "Million Dollar" Man's bodyguard. We talked for a few, and he told me all about his travels and the inside story with the WWF. He's kool. Real name is Mike...which is what I always called him.

I still got to blast my speakers...but I knew when he was out of a I didn't get in trouble.

Unknown said...

A few quickies from my Pitt student days (Class of '05):

-Drank a decent amount with Josh Cummings, the former kicker, very cool kid, not at all the classic flaky kicker, saw himself as a normal student that kicked.

-Went to a sorority date party with a girl I was dating at the time in Oakland, Chevy Troutman was there, very laid back, didn't drink at all (had an out-of-conference game against Woodland Hills HS or the equivalent the next day), was very good about getting photos with most of the guys there. (most of the girls didn't even know who he was)

-Walt Harris is not a great conversationalist in person, either

-Have met Pat White, the WVU qb, as down to earth as the interviews indicate

-Caddied for/in groups with the following folks during my summers:

Arnold Palmer-classy as they come
Rocco Mediate-very calm and cool
Kordell, Bettis-nice guys, cheap tippers
DeWayne Washington, Terrence Mathis-borderline pricks
Maz-very quiet
Dave Guisti-very easygoing, borderline chainsmoker

-I'm a Latrobe native, and at age 2 went over to training camp with some neighbors. Rocky Bleier was doing TV work at the time, and my neighbor went up to ask if he would autograph something for me. Rocky went beyond the call of duty, made sure that a photographer got a photo of he and I, got our contact information and sent in the mail the autographed photo with a very nice handsigned message. The photo will always hang on my wall.

YEAHDOG said...

Hines Ward, So I was at Old Town Tavern on the South Side on Tuesday night April 17 07. I was standing at the bar waiting for a drink when I realized Hines Ward was sitting to my right chatting it up with some 20 something college chick! So I hestitate to ask him for an autograph but think the same as everyone "hey he makes the cash it comes with the job" besides no one was bothering him. So I ask the bartender for paper and pen and gently tap him on the arm. When he turns around I say"Mr Ward Im very sorry to bother you but I am a huge fan could I please bother you for an autograph. He just smiled with this shit eating grin and said "come on man not tonight man"! So I said"please Mr Ward im a huge fan and Im just visitng for the night(Which I was from harrisburg)and im a huge fan and it would mean alot to me!! He says"No man if I give you one then I will have to give everyone in here one" Then he pointed at me to some guy who was either a friend or security who came over and asked me what i wanted and replied not tonight he is busy thanks anyways, as he led me away from the bar!!Both of them being very sarcastic!! It really upset me that he could'nt take 10 sec. to sign my paper. I did feel bad for bothering him but REALLY. I agree with others on here that now I really think less of him now. I will never stop loving the STEELERS but as for Mr. Hines Ward im leaning towards who gives a F#%!

Unknown said...

When I was 12, in 1991, I used to come from New Jersey to see my beloved Pirates. After the game I would try and get autographs. One day Andy Van Slyke was signing for awhile. I waited my turn and told him how my Father apprecited how good he was in centerfield. He looked at me asked who my dad was. Turns out my dad had been talking to him for the previous 20 minutes. Andy starts laughing signs my card for me. The next day he is long tossing in the oufield comes running in and I say "Hi Mr Van Slyke!" He looks at me comes over remembered my name form the previous day and gave me the ball and sign it for me. Class guy!

cbull1942 said...

After my senior year of high school i went to the bahamas with some friends. I took my golf clubs to play while we were down there, and when i was checking them at the airport prior to our departure the airport guy asked me what course i had played. I told him and he said that OJ Simpson was coming to the airport soon. I told my buddies they thought i was lying until there he was OJ and his two kids coming into the room. YOu have to realize this airport was one room with maybe thirty people in it. This was also post murder OJ as it was 1998 I think the trial was in 94 or 95. He was actually as opposite as you would guess. I didnt have anything to sign but my buddies and I got are picture with him. The kids were real shy and did not want bothered which any normal human would respect they were like 12 and 8 years old. Some old bitch took thier pic and they both started crying I felt bad for them. When we got home I hurried to get my pictures developed one because of OJ and two because we had hung out with models doing a shoot all week long. Unfortunetly our picture with OJ did not turn out. It looked like 8 hard to see white kids getting thier picture with a black nike swoosh hat, but you could vagely see it was OJ. No need to worry the pictures with the models all turned out fine so the moral of the story is OJ was pretty cool but if I had to choose which pictures to turn out....i'd take my playmates over a playmaker anyday.