#TBT Sports Blog: Olympic Weightlifter Pocket Hercules

Pocket Hercules weightlifter

Olympic weightlifting champ Naim Suleymanoglu

Today’s #TBT sports blog comes straight out of one of my sports comic books. It focuses on a tiny Olympic weightlifter with a memorable nickname who could effortlessly throw weight much heavier than himself around a gym.

Half of his clever nickname came from Hercules, son of the Greek mythological god Zeus, who was known for his feats of strength.

The other half of his nickname came from the tiny size of this amazing Olympic and World Weightlifting Champion.

Pocket Hercules showed uncommon strength for a person of his short stature. In addition, his interesting personal life story makes him one of the sports world’s all-time best personalities.

That’s why he also cleans and jerks his way into the #2 spot in my sports comic book Favorite Undersized Athletes.

Favorite Undersized Athletes

Born to Turkish parents in Bulgaria during the country’s difficult Communist era, the tiny 5’4” and 134 lb. Naim Suleimanov enjoyed a quick rise to weightlifting fame and success as a Bulgarian featherweight. He won a silver medal in Moscow in 1983, a gold medal in Soldertage in 1985 and another gold medal in Sofia in 1986 in the World Weightlifting Championships.

Then, Suleimanov fled his country while competing in the 1986 World Cup in Melbourne, Australia. Soon after, Pocket Hercules journeyed to Turkey and became a legal Turkish citizen under the slightly new name of Naim Suleymanoglu.

 

While in Turkey, the chain smoking Pocket Hercules continued to dominate featherweight weightlifting. He competed for Turkey in three Olympics – 1988 in Seoul, 1992 in Barcelona and 1996 in Atlanta. He won gold medals in each of these Olympics after his new country paid his old country of Bulgaria $1,250,000 for the rights for him to compete as a Turk.

Pocket Hercules then proved his amazing strength by winning five more World Championships, all in the featherweight division, as a Turkish citizen.

Inducted into the International Weightlifting Federation Hall of Fame in 2004, Suleymanoglu is remembered as one of the most decorated weightlifters ever. Holder of an incredible 46 world records, seven world championships and three Olympic gold medals, he is only one of seven lifters ever to clean and jerk three times his body weight.

Turkey’s national weightlifting team never needed a secret weapon or an ace in their pocket to surprise rivals at worldwide weightlifting competitions. They already had their very own, undersized Pocket Hercules to bring home the gold.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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2 Cent Tuesday: Epic Performances in Sports

2 Cent Tuesday sports blog

Today’s 2 Cent Tuesday sports blog chronicles my all-time favorite epic performances in sports.

Few things fuel the fire for bar stool banter like the subject of extraordinary feats in sports.

Regardless of the sport, sports fans of every age and background have sparred with relatives, friends and colleagues about their favorite player’s unforgettable individual performances or team’s most memorable classic games.

When it comes to epic sports performances, all sports fans wish they could have been there in person to witness the unthinkable.

Whether sitting in a front row seat or standing in the upper deck, they would have loved to personally view the memorable achievements of legendary athletes who, for one glorious night, were truly “unconscious” or literally had “stepped into that magical zone.”

Here’s my top 10 collection of epic sports performances.

Kerry Wood’s 20 MLB Strikeouts

10. In 1998, Kerry Wood of the Chicago Cubs struck out an amazing 20 Houston Astros batters. Only 20 years-old at the time, Wood totally dominated the Astros in what many consider the greatest MLB game ever pitched. Wood walked no batters and allowed only one infield hit.

Darryl Sittler’s 10 NHL Points

9. In 1993, Darryl Sittler of the Toronto Maple Leafs accumulated 10 points in a game against the Boston Bruins. Sittler scored six goals on 10 shots while assisting on four others. It was a feat that no other NHL player has yet to duplicate – not even The Great One Wayne Gretzky.

St. Louis Cardinals’ Mark Whiten

8. In 1993, little known Mark Whiten of the St. Louis Cardinals tied two Major League Baseball records in the second game of a doubleheader versus the Cincinnati Reds.

In MLB history, 15 players have hit four homers in a game. Only one had driven in 12 runs in a game. However, no one in MLB history managed what Whiten did on his magical night by hitting hit four dingers and driving in 12 runners in the same game.

Tennis’ John Isner

7. In 2010, John Isner made epic sports history in both endurance and performance. He recorded an astonishing 113 aces in his seemingly endless (11 hours and 5 minutes in length) first round Wimbledon match against Nicolas Mahut.

Don Larsen’s Perfect Game

6. In 1956, while playing against the Brooklyn Dodgers, Don Larsen of the New York Yankees pitched the only perfect game ever in a World Series Game. Larsen’s remarkable performance enabled the Yanks to win Game 5 and, subsequently, the World Series. For his excellent pitching, Larsen was also named MVP.

QB Norm Van Brocklin’s 554 Passing Yards

5. In 1951, Norm Van Brocklin of the then Los Angeles Rams set an NFL record by passing for an incomprehensible 554 yards. With NFL record books showing 11 quarterbacks passing for more than 500 yards in a game, not even Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Joe Montana, Drew Brees or Peyton Manning have come close to surpassing Van Brocklin’s record.

Derrick Thomas’ 7 NFL Sacks in a Game

4. In 1990, the late Derrick Thomas of the Kansas City Chiefs recorded an amazing 7 sacks in one game against the Seattle Seahawks. By today’s NFL standards recording 7 sacks in a season will probably secure a defensive player a pretty sweet contract extension. Imagine accomplishing that in a single game.

Adrian Peterson’s 253 Rushing Yards

3. In 2007, Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings set an NFL record by rushing for an incredible 296 yards against the San Diego Chargers. A rookie at the time, Peterson ran for a staggering 253 yards in the second half of the game. A truly epic performance.

Wilt Chamberlain’s Historic Night

2. In 1962, Wilt Chamberlain of the then Philadelphia Warriors scored 100 points in a sparsely attended NBA game against the New York Knicks in Hershey, Pennsylvania. 100 points!

Wilt the Stilt Chamberlain NBA

Like Joe DiMaggio’s 56 game hitting streak; Wayne Gretzky’s 9 NHL MVP Trophies; Usain Bolt’s back-to-back gold medals in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics; Lionel Messi’s 91 total goals in all competitions in 2012; and Derrick Thomas’ 7 sacks in a game; Wilt’s historic night is a sports milestone that will never be broken.

Michael’s Phelps’ 8 Olympic Gold Medals

1. In 2008, USA swimmer Michael Phelps’ performance in the Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, China stands as arguably the greatest personal achievement in all of sports. The most honored Olympian ever with 22 total Olympic medals, Phelps collected 8 gold medals in Beijing, 5 of which were in individual races.

Now that’s an epic sports performance!

Michael Phelps

Email me at mikeonsports@yahoo.com if you’d like to share your very own favorite epic performance in sports in a future 2 Cent Tuesday sports blog.

MIKE on sports!

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MIKE Sports Comic Book: MLB Favorites

MIKE MLB Favorites

Volume 2 of the MIKE Sports Comic Book Series focuses on my personal picks for all-time MLB Favorites.

MLB Favorites transports readers through the Fall Classic months of October and even November.

It also spotlights baseball legends from a lifetime ago.

My baseball favorites include one incredible team from nearly a century ago and a baseball landmark that has wooed fans and players for over 100 years.

This book includes eight famous big leaguers. Six are in the Baseball Hall of Fame and one will be there soon.

Another worthy choice is someone many believe should be inducted because of his record breaking career and all out hustle whenever he took the field.

Each of my player picks has positively impacted baseball for their accomplishments on the field. None are still active on an Major League Baseball roster.

You’ll recall a colorful catcher who stopped everything behind the plate and hit everything thrown to him in front of it.

More MLB Favorites

You’ll also read about the tiniest player to ever play the game of baseball. He dominated the sport with both speed and a unique ability to hit pitches whenever – and wherever – he wanted.

One of my choices, a dominating, machine-like team, is a perennial fan favorite.

Big Red Machine Cincinnati Reds

Plus, we’ll celebrate a famous piece of Boston baseball real estate that is one of the most revered and recognized icons in all of sports.

All in this book are worthy of being recognized by unique, immediately recognizable nicknames.

Each of my favorites also includes a special sports comic that captures the nickname of the player, team and that famous left field wall.

In addition to the comics, I include a little history in each chapter about my selection. I explain why I believe my choice belongs in MLB Favorites.

Lastly, my affiliate partner – Sports Memorabilia – features lots of Major League Baseball sports merchandise. Check out the site if interested. And, yes, I do earn a small commission if you happen to buy something, so thanks.

Sports MemorabiliaIf you don’t see your favorite in the MIKE sports comic book MLB Favorites, then I definitely want to hear from you.

Email me at mikeonsports@yahoo.com and state your case.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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Hey, Sports Fans, Happy National Hot Dog Day!

Racing Weenies at Miller Park in MilwaukeeHey, sports fans! Get out your mustard, ketchup and relish.

It’s time to celebrate.

Today, July 23rd, is annual National Hot Dog Day.

That’s right! Sports fans get to lift their glasses of iced tea and lemonade or even raise a bottle of their favorite adult beverage and toast the undisputed king of packaged meats – the hot dog.

Sure, it’s self-serving that the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council originally spearheaded this annual monthly celebration. But, what sports fan, or non-vegetarian American can’t applaud the council’s ambitious yearly promotion and prudent market awareness campaign?

Not just sports fans, but Americans of every shape, size, color and creed love their tube steaks. From time to time, even ultra health conscious individuals can;t resist 100% natural hot dogs with zero preservatives and no nitrates.

Americans Consume 8 Billion Hot Dogs a Tear

According to www.hot-dog.org , Americans typically consume 7 billion, yes 7 billion, hot dogs between Memorial Day and Labor Day each year. That’s 818 hot dogs every second!

Dating back hundreds of years, Vienna and Frankfurt may still dispute the genesis of the beloved hot dog.

However, these famous franks have undoubtedly become the American sports fan’s favorite food at the ballpark for more than a century.

And, the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council boast the numbers prove it.

Major League Baseball alone sold a staggering 21 million hot dogs in 2014, while Los Angeles surpassed all other US cities with a total consumption of 39 million hot dogs.

Whether consuming a chili dog, corn dog, cheese dog or foot long ball park hot dog with other toppings, the average America noshes on 60 frankfurters per year, making condiment companies French’s and Heinz happy, too!

The hot dog has always ranked as the top food choice at ball park concession stands across America since introduced in 1901 at a baseball game at the old New York Polo Grounds. Sports cartoonist Tad Morgan called the then hot dachshund sausage a hot dog and the name stuck.

Now, undoubtedly one of America’s most cherished comfort foods, the former hot dachshund sausage spawned a burgeoning industry of packaged meat brands; namely, Nathan’s, Hebrew National, Ball Park Franks, Dietz and Watson and arguably everybody’s favorite – Oscar Meyer Wieners.

You may prefer Nathan’s over Hebrew National, but you’re a liar if you don’t admit you, too, once sang along to, “I’d love to be an Oscar Meyer Wiener!”

Come on’ how can you not love the Oscar Meyer wiener mobile?

A big shout out to sports marketing maverick, and hot dog extraordinaire Mike Rudd, for serving as inspiration to pen this blog as well as drawing attention to America’s love affair with the hot dog. The guy’s not only clever, but a brave man to don a hot dog suit during promotions as pictured below.

Savvy sports marketer Mike Rudd

Savvy sports marketer Mike Rudd

Also, here’s a popular podcast I wrote a while ago about my favorite packaged meat mascots racing around the baseball field at Miller Park in Milwaukee. I refer to these in-game entertainers as “real wieners!”

MIKE on sports podcastSo, pass me the Heinz ketchup and hold the mustard and relish!

And, Happy National Hot Dog Day to you!

MIKE on sports!

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Friday Sports Funny: William “The Refrigerator” Perry

The Fridge

William The Refrigerator Perry

Today’s Friday Sports Funny recalls these words uttered by former Chicago Bears’ legend William The Refrigerator Perry.

“Even when I was little, I was big.”

No one really knows who gave Perry his Refrigerator nickname. But, it’s not hard to guess how he got it.

Teammates would tell stories about Perry’s ability to eat huge amounts of food. And, everyone thought his big, square shaped body looked like a refrigerator.

The Refrigerator, or Fridge for short, became an instant NFL fan favorite.

The Chicago Bears drafted him as a defensive lineman out of Clemson with the 22nd pick of the first round of the NFL Draft.

However, Perry became famous when Bears coach Mike Ditka unexpectedly used him as a fullback on short yardage and goal line situations.

At 6’2” and 375 lbs. the extra-sized Perry was not only a pile-driving blocker out of the backfield. He was surprisingly nimble for a man of his size.

The Refrigerator was certainly not a gimmick because he scored five touchdowns for the Bears out of the backfield.

Perry played for ten seasons in the NFL. He did not develop into the dominant defensive force the Bears hoped he would become. Perry’s career spanned 138 games in which he totaled 29.5 sacks.

The Refrigerator’s career highlight occurred in 1986 when the Chicago Bears dismantled the New England Patriots 46 – 10 to capture Super Bowl XX.

As a bit of NFL trivia, Perry’s Super Bowl ring had to be specially made. The extra large ring needed to fit his ring size of 25, making his the largest Super Bowl ring ever.

William Perry’s Life After Football

After retirement, the entertaining Perry continued to live large in the eyes of sports fans. The Refrigerator went on to perform in Worldwide Wrestling Federation and professional boxing celebrity matches.

The Refrigerator also promoted his own barbeque sauce, recorded his own rap songs and served as a substitute for a Lingerie Football League game. He even entered Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Championships.

Whatever the likeable William Perry did on or off the football field, he always did it with a smile.

Fortunately, the popular Perry is still grinning despite reckless, unfounded reports of his death in 2013.

Perry also did everything in a very big way – just like the heavy duty kitchen appliance he was named after – The Refrigerator.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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#TBT Sports Blog: Chicago Cubs’ Ernie Banks

Mr. Cub Ernie Banks

Today’s #TBT sport blogs remembers Ernie Banks, the greatest player in Chicago Cubs history.

To Banks, the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field served as home for 19 Major League Baseball seasons.

Affectionately known as Mr. Cub, the soft spoken Ernie Banks easily stole the hearts of loyal Chicago Cubs fans.

Defined by his passion and purpose for the game, Banks excelled in a multitude of ways for the only Major League Baseball team he ever knew.

However, during his lengthy and storied career in Chicago, #14 amazingly never saw post season action.

Ernie Banks Enjoyed Only 1 Winning Season in 19 Years

Ironically, Banks experienced 18 out of 19 losing seasons with the Chicago Cubs. As a result, he became known as the consummate good sport. He never complained openly about the Cubs’ losing ways.

Because of his bright smile, gentle spirit and always positive disposition, Banks also picked up the appropriate nickname Mr. Sunshine.

In spite of the Cubs’ futility, Banks gained a 1977 first ballot entry into the Baseball Hall of Fame. He posted impressive career statistics as both a shortstop and then first baseman for the Chicago Cubs.

A two-time National League MVP in 1958 and 1959, Banks retired with 512 dingers, 2,583 total hits and a lifetime .274 batting average.

Although Banks was named to baseball’s All-Century team in 1999, he often expressed during his playing days that he wanted to be remembered as more than a baseball player.

Fortunately, he has.

Since his retirement in 1972, Banks has been revered for the way he comported himself both on and off the baseball field.

In addition to his stellar play as an athlete, Banks brilliantly followed Jackie Robinson’s lead as an esteemed example of baseball integration.

The Baseball Hall of Fame player also was greatly respected for advocating for assistance for Chicago’s poor.

In 2013 President Barack Obama Presented Ernie Banks with Presidential Medal of Freedom

What is perhaps this Chicago sports legend’s greatest lifetime achievement came to fruition in 2013. That’s when President Barack Obama presented him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

The award not only acknowledged Banks’ outstanding baseball career, but, it recognized #14 as an extraordinary human being. Despite a quiet demeanor, Ernie fought racism in our country with an excellent and courageous spirit.

His example to overcome adversity through quiet strength and determination helped unite people of all races.

For that reason, Mr. Cub will always be remembered as more than the Chicago Cubs’ greatest player ever. It pleases me to pen this #TBT sports blog.

Ernie Banks will be forever recognized as both a hero and a great man who proudly represented baseball as the sport’s unofficial ambassador.

MIKE on sports!

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2 Cent Tuesday: NBA’s Draymond Green Needs to Grow Up

2 Cent Tuesday sports blog

Golden State Warriors star forward Draymond Green finds himself in the news again today.

That’s why my 2 Cent Tuesday blog beckons the NBA star to grow up – fast!

With his outstanding overall play these past three seasons, Green has emerged as a a complimentary NBA star on an already star studded team. The versatile player has demonstrated that he’s also perfectly capable of dominating a game on his own.

A highly intelligent and immensely skilled player, Green has made a huge impact with the Warriors. He can defend multiple positions, handle the ball like a guard, shoot the three, pass off the dribble and, also, aggravate the heck out of opposing players and fans alike.

In addition, the easily agitated Green has quickly developed a less-than-enviable reputation as an immature, whining NBA bad boy.

Known for his animated personality, pesky defense and high energy game, Draymond Green stirs up controversy both on the NBA hardwood and away from it.

Yesterday, the former Michigan State star commented to ESPN about his most recent brush with the law by indicating that he doesn’t need to change.

Really, Draymond? You can’t be serious.

Warriors fans can probably hear thunderous groans from coach Steve Kerr and Dubs’ stars Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and newcomer Kevin Durant.

That’s because last week, Green lost his cool again and slapped another former Spartan athlete in a public setting.

Plus, last month, Green’s immature cheap shot antics became media fodder during this year’s NBA Playoffs.

The Warriors’ forward intentionally kicked OKC Thunder center Stephen Adams in the cojones, drawing a controversial flagrant foul instead of a one game suspension?

In the next series, Green took a swipe at LeBron James’ personal package and had to sit out an NBA Finals game? His foolish foul more than likely cost his team a second championship in as many years?

Green Says He Doesn’t Need to Change

Now, Green is admitting that he doesn’t need to change when he’ll soon be representing his country in the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Brazil.

Maybe he needs to spend time with USA coach Mike Krzyzewski or call his former college coach Tom Izzo for immediate counseling. Both men would be able to see the path that Green has recklessly embarked upon.

Draymond Green’s infractions may be benign to some, but his penchant for petty punching, quick trigger whining and growing hubris are cause for concern.

What’s next?

More flagrant fouls? A hard punch in lieu of a silly slap? An insidious comment instead of a controlled, mature response.

Draymond Green, you are now a bona fide NBA star. Behave like one and grow up – fast!.

And that’s my 2 cents.

MIKE on sports!

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MIKE Sports Comic Book: Surprising Sports Favorites

MIKE Surprising Sports Favorites

Volume 9 of the MIKE Sports Comic Book Series focuses on my all-time Surprising Sports Favorites. And, they should surprise you, too!

My diverse choices are called surprising because they’re not all the typically expected picks for a sports fan’s favorites list.

Some aren’t real athletes and others aren’t athletes at all.

Remember, these are my picks.

My selections may not all be Hall of Fame players; however, they all earned a spot in this book for their positive impact on a sport or their lasting legacy with sports fans.

Ironically, even though not all are athletes – at least real athletes – for that matter, sports fans can immediately identify them.

For example, a famous marathoners’ hill easily makes the list and as does the holiest, most intimidating place in golf.

One of my choices is a conniver who doesn’t hustle on a playing field, but in a pool hall, instead. However, ESPN considers this chubby guy’s “non-sport” a real sport.

Another is a pleasantly plump opera singer whose name is known by no one, yet her presence is absolutely required for a long game to end.

My sports favorites list also includes a once embarrassingly bad football team that eventually turned its ineptitude into a Super Bowl title.

I share about an unusual 1906 World Series winner even if though they couldn’t hit worth a lick – during the regular season, that is.

And, for chocoholics out there, I chronicle a ridiculously athletic basketball player who surprised everyone with his off-court entertainment ability and not his expected on-court basketball skill.

Other picks include an athlete of movie picture fame and a celebrity both inside and outside the wrestling ring.

Topping my list is an urban legend and perhaps the greatest high flyer never to have played in the NBA.

In this book, each of my selections includes a special sports comic which captures the nickname of the player, team or location of my Surprising Sports Favorite.

In addition to the comics, I include a little sports history in each chapter about my selection and explain why it belongs on my list even though a few of my picks may surprise you, too!

Straight talk. No static.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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Friday Sports Funny: Playing in a Hostile Environment

MRO 21 Hostile EnvironmentToday’s Friday Sports Funny brings to life the old sports adage of playing in a hostile environment.

Bottle rockets, barbwire, attacking tank, helicopter warship and swashbuckling pirates paint a foreboding picture in this comic for the visiting, and retreating, Cowboys football team.

Filled with trepidation, the scared Cowboys are running away from their bitter rival Pirates. For the scattering Cowboys, this stadium clearly presents a hostile environment.

Metaphoric hostile environments, like the one in this comic, are found in every sport and at many NCAA, NFL, NBA, MLB, and FIFA games.

Perhaps one of the most famed hostile environments in all of sports is Duke University’s Cameron Indoor Stadium. This is where rabid NCAA fans give the Blue Devils a distinct home court advantage.

However, Duke’s Cameron Crazies are not near as crazy or as hostile as British soccer hooligans. Even during simple soccer matches, they toss bottles and batteries, while screaming bigoted obscenities.

Our Sports Vocabulary Invokes War Like References

Our sports vocabulary may, at times, incorporate warlike language with scary clichés and exaggerations as pictured in this comic. But, as sports fans, let’s never compare the figurative hostile environment of a sports stadium or arena with the literal horror of a hostile environment in an actual war zone.

In real life hostile environments like war zones, adversaries seek to maim or kill each other in battles, not in football, basketball, soccer or hockey games, with real bullets, and not balls. Now that’s scary!

MIKE Vol 5 ScaryRead other great “scary” short sports stories in MIKE’s FREE sports comic book aptly named Scary Sports Comics.

Click on the purple image above and download the book for FREE.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

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#TBT Sports Blog: MLB Big Unit Randy Johnson

MLB pitcher Big Unit Randy Johnson

Today’s TBT sports blog focuses on a Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher who immediately instilled big fears in hitters who faced this imposing figure.

At 6’10” and 230 lbs. pitcher Randy Johnson personified the name given him during his rookie season in Montreal.

When astonished teammate Tim Raines first saw Johnson pitch, he shouted, “Wow, that’s one Big Unit!”

During his 21-year career with the Mariners, Diamondbacks, Yankees, Giants and Expos, Johnson’s physical size and on field performance towered above all other Major League Baseball pitchers.

MLB hitters facing Johnson feared his blazing 100 mph fastball and hard, wicked slider. Both pitches were instrumental in his leading the majors in strikeouts nine times and overall ERA four times.

A ten-time MLB all-star and five-time Cy Young Award winner, the dominating lefty retired in 2009 as one of the most decorated pitchers in baseball history. In addition to winning a World Series in 2001 with the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Big Unit was named Co-MVP of the series with his Diamondbacks’ teammate Curt Schilling.

Other significant career accomplishments include the perfect game Johnson tossed on May 18, 2004 against the Atlanta Braves. He also claims a no-hitter he pitched on June 2, 1990 versus the Detroit Tigers.

Randy Johnson: Non Performance Enhanced Pitcher

Johnson’s fabulous pitching career became even more impressive. This non-performance enhanced fire-baller dominated from the mound during the infamous Major League Baseball era which was sullied by widespread steroid usage.

This big time baseball talent finished his pitching days with 300+ career wins. He ranks second in career strikeouts and holds the record for baseball’s best ever strikeouts per innings pitched.

Cooperstown voters didn’t come close to whiffing when electing Randy Johnson as a first time Baseball Hall of Fame ballot selection in 2015.

Voting for the Big Unit was a Grand Slam.

MIKE on sports!

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