#TBT Sports Blog: Racing Weenies at Milwaukee Brewers’ Miller Park

Racing Weenies at Miller Park in MilwaukeeThe Milwaukee Brewers’ return to the MLB Playoffs has prompted me to dust off a popular #TBT sports blog from a few years ago.

The Milwaukee Brewers’ Miller Park’s Racing Weenies in-game entertainment inspired its genesis.

Let’s take a #TBT look back at Miller Park’s beloved packaged meat entertainers.

MLB In-game Entertainment

…..All sports fans can agree that MLB in-game entertainers can be especially creative in how they support their home team.

These entertainers range from perky cheerleaders to talented jugglers. They include dancers, twirlers and tuba players.

From Frisbee catching dogs on a baseball field to dunking gorillas on a basketball court, in-game entertainment absolutely enriches the sports fans’ experience at the park, stadium or arena.

Sports fans can also provide big time entertainment even when they’re not the main event. They include fans with streaming shakers, those who design and display giant cardboard signs and shirtless guys with painted faces sitting in bleachers during frigid weather.

In-game promotions involving team mascots are always fun, and they bring out the best in local sentiment.

For example, if you haven’t been to Nationals Park in Washington, DC, you’ve never witnessed the patriotic thrills of cheering on Tom (Jefferson), Abe (Lincoln), Teddy (Roosevelt) and George (Washington) in the famed Presidential Races.

The Sausage Race: Favorite MLB In-game Entertainment

Perhaps, my all-time favorite in-game promotion involving local mascots is the Sausage Race held at Miller Park in Milwaukee. They represent my all-time favorite non-athletes in sports.

This creative and fun 7th inning race involves a German Bratwurst, a Polish Kielbasa, an Italian Sausage and the All American Hot Dog.

What an event, and at a Major League Baseball game no less!

What fans can resist rooting on their favorite racing weenies? This one-of-a-kind foot race gets 45,000 frenetic fans cheering wildly for their favorite packaged meat mascot racing around the baseball field.

Kudos to Miller Park in Milwaukee

Kudos to Miller Park and what a way to think outside the bun!

It might sound cliche, but the Sausage Race at Milwaukee’s Miller Park is a real weener!

That’s why these packaged meat sausages, my favorite non-athletes of all-time, also rank as my #9 pick in my FREE sports comic book Favorite Non-Athletes in Sports!

FREE MIKE sports comic bookClick on the purple cover above to safely download my FREE sports comic book Favorite Non-athletes in Sports!

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

baseball footer

#TBT Sports Blog: NCAA Football’s Galloping Ghost Red Grange

Fomer Illinois running back Red GrangeToday’s #TBT Sports Blog features Red Grange – one of NCAA football’s greatest players of all time.

My post recalls Grange – an incomparable college football player with the unforgettable nickname – The Galloping Ghost.

In 2008, ESPN.com called Red Grange, an electrifying running back and kick returner, the greatest college football player ever.

However, 90 years earlier it was Chicago sportswriter Warren Brown who attributed The Galloping Ghost name to Harold Edward “Red” Grange.

Grange earned the Galloping Ghost moniker because of his race horse speed and quick, ghostlike movements that avoided tacklers in the open field.

Tackling Grange was like trying to lasso a fast moving cloud driven by a strong wind in a large open field. Few defenders ever succeeded.

A three-time All American at the University of Illinois, the 5’11″ and 175 lb. Grange led the Illini to an undefeated season and college football’s national championship in 1923.

The Galloping Ghost’s Best College Game

The Galloping Ghost’s best college game was against Michigan on October 18, 1924. Most college football fans called it the greatest individual performance in the history of college football.

Against the Illini’s fiercest rival, Grange spooked the Wolverine defense by racing the game’s opening kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown. He scored three more times on runs of 67, 56 and 44 yards – all within the first 12 minutes of the game.

There was no television or internet back in The Galloping Ghost’s era. Instead, TIME Magazine highlighted Grange’s amazing college career by including The Galloping Ghost on the cover of its October 1925 issue. It was a huge national honor.

An original member of both the College and Pro Football Halls of Fame, Grange signed with the Chicago Bears immediately after college. Grange is also a history maker for the professional sport of football.

Back in the 1920s, professional football was only beginning to form nationally, and Grange became instrumental in its initial success.

Grange participated in a 67 day, 19 game cross-country series of exhibition games. For his efforts, The Galloping Ghost pocketed an incredible $100,000 for his role. The other players were paid only $100 per game.

Chicago Bears’ Owner Calls Red Grange Best RB Ever

Chicago Bears Hall of Fame owner George Halas called Grange the greatest running back he had ever seen. Unfortunately, The Galloping Ghost suffered a terrible knee injury in 1927 that inevitably shortened his professionally career.

The highlight of #77′s NFL career came in 1933. Grange made a heroic game saving play on defense in the closing seconds of the NFL’s first ever Championship Game held at Wrigley Field.

The spirit of this Galloping Ghost will always live on. And, today’s #TBT Sports Blog rekindles the fiery spirit of this amazing college football player.

Red Grange passed away in 1991, but today let’s remember the elusive, fast gridiron great whom ESPN.com recognized as the best college football player of all time.

Shop for College Fan Gear at Fanatics.com!For NCAA college football fans interested in authentic apparel, simply click on the Fanatics logo above.

If you opt to buy a Fanatics product, then thanks because we earn a small commission on the sale.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

Football footer

#TBT Sports Blog: College Football’s Two Death Valleys

Clemson's Death ValleyToday’s #TBT Sports Blog tells the history of Death Valley – both of them.

One of college football’s most daunting places for visiting teams to play, Death Valley rests peacefully in one of my favorite sports comic books –  Deadly Sports Stuff.  Check out the excerpt below.

Deadly Sports Stuff

Two prominent universities lay claim to the mortal title. And both schools routinely spar over who owns the genuine birthright to their individual stadium’s deathly name.

Clemson University’s Death Valley

Aptly named Death Valley, the first is Clemson University’s football stadium. It’s ironically situated between a cemetery on a hill and a plain with a valley beyond.

Clemson claims its stadium is the genuine Death Valley of college football because it can clearly identify the genesis of its deadly sounding name.

In 1948, former Presbyterian College coach Lonnie McMillian bemoaned the fact that his teams rarely scored and never won when playing in Clemson’s Death Valley.

McMillian’s comments hold true for most other NCAA FBS teams as well. Clemson’s Death Valley boasts a remarkable home field advantage.

It’s here that the Clemson Tigers have won an impressive 71% of their home games. It’s also where their boisterous 81,500 seat stadium reaches a deafening decibel level of 133db.

Death Valley is famous for Howard’s Rock. Named after legendary Clemson coach Frank Howard, this actual rock originated from Death Valley Park in California. It serves as a landmark in the stadium.

Since 1967, Clemson players and coaches have traditionally touched the rock before each game amid fireworks and a raucous crowd.

Opposing teams have often become intimidated while witnessing this amazing spectacle, acknowledged as one of the richest in college sports. The lore and legend of Death Valley causes these would-be rivals to succumb to the Tigers on their notoriously scary home field.

LSU’s Death Valley

About 1,000 miles southwest of Clemson, SC stands the football home of the LSU Tigers. Coincidentally, Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, LA is also known as Death Valley.

However, the birth of LSU’s Death Valley stadium remains a mystery to most fans. There exists no clear cut agreement on when and where LSU’s Death Valley moniker was originally coined.

Some fans attribute LSU’s Death Valley name to the local Baton Rouge dialect’s pronunciation of Deaf Valley, which, ironically, is a gas station situated next to the actual football stadium where LSU played.

Fans near the gas station not only remember that it was impossible to hear when games were played in the monstrous stadium located next to the Deaf Valley gas station, but they also recall few visiting teams ever won at LSU.

When Louisianans described this experience to others outside the state, they sounded as if they said Death Valley instead of Deaf Valley.

Their unique dialect transformed the “f” into a “th” sound as they did when saying breath as “breaf”.

Tiger Stadium, or LSU’s Death Valley, is just as tough a place to play as Memorial Stadium in Clemson, SC.

LSU’s 95,542 seat stadium was named the scariest place to play in college football by ESPN in 2007, and the NCAA called it the loudest in FBS stadium in 2013.

Whether you believe LSU’s theory about the origination of its Death Valley or hold true to the media facts supported by Clemson’s claim, let’s agree on this one unwavering detail.

Both college stadiums are not only incredibly loud.

But, based on both schools’ impressive home winning records, they’re also metaphoric graveyards for opposing teams who reluctantly come to visit either Death Valley.

Shop for College Fan Gear at Fanatics.com!

Also, for fans interested in authentic college football merchandise or collectibles, simply click on the Fanatics logo above.

Note that if you opt to purchase a Fanatics product, we earn a small commission from each sale. So, thank you.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

Football footer

#TBT Sports Blog: Lou Holtz & ESPN College Game Day

ESPN sportscaster Lou Holtz

Today’s #TBT sports blog remembers the immensely likeable, former ESPN College Game Day commentator Lou Holtz.

His sterling studio schtick always earned him a spot in my living room each fall weekend.

Sure, the retired little Lou looked like he never played a lick and probably could never bench press a broom.

But, for cryin’ out loud – as this charismatic old coaching codger liked to say – I absolutely loved Lou Holtz as a talking head and co-anchor with Mark May during ESPN College Game Day broadcasts.

Lou Holtz’s Candid ESPN Coverage

Lou Holtz’s candid ESPN college football coverage always carried clout!

Viewers were smitten by the outspoken purity of this grandfatherly pigskin pundit and television’s a-typical talking head.

Who cared if this retired coach sported a face for radio rather than network television?

His colorful commentating was welcome in my living room any day of the week.

The former Notre Dame, South Carolina and Minnesota head football coach may have mis-pronunciated, inarticulated and mis-syllabicated whenever he opened his mouth.

But, what fan really cared?

The immensely loveable Lou emanated total trust.

He prognosticated with passion and purpose.

Most importantly, he generated unbridled enthusiasm from the ESPN Sports Center Studio.

Football fans looked quickly past his saucer shaped spectacles and learned to live with his lovable lisp.

They humored him for his histrionics and hair-brained hunches.

Why? Because they, too, absolutely loved Lou Holtz!

Shop for Thousands of Authentic Autographed College Football Collectibles at SportsMemorabilia.comFor college football fans interested in authentic NCAA collectibles, just click on the Sports Memorabilia logo above.

Please know that if you purchase a Sports memorabilia product, we earn a small commission. So, thank you.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

Football footer

#TBT Sports Blog: Team is Knocking at the Door

knocking at doorToday’s #TBT sports blog remembers an old sports cliché about a team “knocking at the door.”

For me, this old adage has always screamed for further interpretation.

It’s confusing, don’t you think?.

Not even the most knowledgeable fan can fully explain the meaning.

The sports expression about the team “knocking at the door” begs me to ask.

Just how close in a game do you need to be to knock at the door?

If you get a five run lead, can you still knock?

Are only baseball teams allowed to knock?

Also, can only offensive teams knock?

And, when a defender knocks back, does he answer the door or answer the bell?

Someone needs to take some initiative and clarify this old sports cliché because it continues to confuse the heck out of all of us.

Shop for Thousands of Authentic Autographed MLB Collectibles at SportsMemorabilia.comFor fans interested in authentic Major League Baseball collectibles, click on the Sports Memorabilia logo above.

Note that if you opt to purchase any collectibles from Sports Memorabilia, we earn a small commission. So, than you.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

baseball footer

#TBT Sports Blog: Boxer Roberto Duran or “Hands of Stone”

Former World Champion Roberto Duran

 

Today’s #TBT sports blog remembers world champion boxer Roberto Duran aptly nicknamed “Hands of Stone.”

This Panamanian boxer regularly pummeled his opponents.

With 70 career knock-outs, Roberto Duran punched with such power that observers claimed he possessed Hands of Stone.

ESPN.com called Duran’s nickname the greatest nickname in a sport famous for great nicknames.

 

Pound for pound the 5’7” and 150 lb. Duran is widely known as one the best boxers to have ever set foot in the ring.

His amazing endurance in the ring lasted five decades. Duran’s career spanned from his 1968 professional debut in Panama to his unexpected retirement in 2001 due to a near fatal car crash.

Roberto Duran Fight Against Sugar Ray Leonard

One of Duran’s most famous fights pitted him against fellow lightweight Sugar Ray Leonard in a rematch. Duran had already defeated Sugar Ray by unanimous decision in June 1980 in a fight called the Brawl in Montreal. Oddly, in their November 1980 rematch, Duran walked out of the ring uttering, “no mas,” meaning “no more,” in Spanish. As a result, he forfeited his championship belt.

An inductee into the World Boxing and International Boxing Hall of Fames, Duran fought 119 times, winning 103 bouts. He earned a reputation as a punishing brawler inside the ropes.

However, outside the ropes Duran made headlines as well Panamanian lore. The story tells of an angry Duran once knocking out a horse with his Hands of Stone. To add to his tough image, many reported that the brash boxer once paraded his pet lion Walla around a hotel.

Few boxers in history have mirrored Duran’s varied success in the ring.

Roberto Duran Won Championship in Four Different Weight Classes

The Hands of Stone Panamanian used his punching prowess to win four world championship belts in four different weight classes. Duran captured crowns in lightweight (1972-1979), welterweight (1980), light middleweight (1983-1984) and middleweight (1989).

There may be “no mas,” or no more, of the 60 year-old Roberto Duran in the boxing ring. But, this incredible fighter is featured in an ESPN 30 for 30 documentary film titled after his nickname.

In this film, boxing fans witness more, yes much more, of the boxer famous for having Hands of Stone.

For boxing fans interested in boxing memorabilia or authentic Roberto Duran collectibles, simply click on the Sports Memorabilia logo above.

Note that if you purchase a Sports Memorabilia product, we earn a small commission. So, thank you.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

#TBT Sports Blog: Australian Olympic Swimmer Ian “The Thorpedo” Thorpe

Australian swimmer Ian Thorpe

Today’s #TBT sports blog remembers Australian sports icon Ian Thorpe.

This Olympic swimmer’s powerful speed in the pool gave rise to his brilliant nickname.

Known simply as The Thorpedo, Ian Thorpe ranks as one of the greatest swimmers of all time.

Like the self-propelled warhead for which he was named, this 6’5” and 230 lb. Australian used his massive size 17 feet and powerful six beat kick to regularly propel himself toward his final target – the victor’s podium at swimming events.

 

Amazingly, Thorpe overcame an allergic reaction to chlorine, a chemical common to pools. He excelled in a sport where he would continually be found in chlorinated water that would make him sick. At the age of eight, Ian Thorpe won very his first competitive race by holding his head completely above water to fight off the worst of his allergy.

Ian Thorpe Becomes Youngest World Champion Swimmer

Thorpe’s length and incredible work ethic helped him explode onto the international swim scene in 1998. That year, at age 15, The Thorpedo became the youngest men’s world champion.

The Thorpedo continued his assault in the pool. He eventually compiled one of the most impressive swimming resumes in the history of the sport. Thorpe excelled in middle-distance freestyle events and demonstrated an awesome ability to make up trailing distances as anchor on relay teams.

Voted four times as Swimming World’s Swimmer of the Year, Thorpe enjoyed the most success of any other Olympian during the 2000 Summer Olympic Games. The Thorpedo cruised his way to three gold medals and two silver medals at the games in Sydney, Australia.

The Thorpedo Captured 11 World Swimming Titles

Before retiring in 2006, this Aussie Thopedo captured an additional 11 World Swimming Championships.

USA Men’s Swim Coach Bob Bowman called Thorpe, “the greatest middle-distance swimmer of all time and the greatest relay swimmer I have ever seen.” This was an especially significant compliment since it arose from the same man who coached Michael Phelps.

This self-propelled Australian in the pool will always be remembered as an explosive finisher. Like any military weapon trained on its target, Thorpe regularly found his at the victor’s podium.

He’s one of the world’s most highly decorated swimming champions.

Ian Thorpe will be forever remembered as The Thorpedo, the amazingly fast underwater weapon that always found his target.

For fans interested in authentic Olympic collectibles, simply click on the Sports Memorabilia logo above.

Note that if you purchase a Sports Memorabilia product, we earn a small commission. So, thank you.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

#TBT Sports Blog: FREE Sports Comic Book on Favorite Non-Athletes

Rudolf Wanderone Minnesota FatsToday’s #TBT sports blog recalls my FREE sports comic book Favorite Non-Athletes.

Updated in 2017, the ebook reveals a different side of sports for inquisitive fans.

If you’re as rabid a sports fan as me, you’ll agree that sports comprise the best form of entertainment.

NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and FIFA games showcase some of the greatest athletes on the planet.

But, sports entertainment is more than just watching phenomenal athletes ply their craft on the ice, field, diamond, hardwood or pitch.

What provide the extra sizzle in sports are countless non-athletes that make the games possible and entertaining. They enrich the overall fan experience.

A number of non-athletic performers and icons deliver invaluable appeal and bring the entertainment aspects of sports to greater levels.

I highlight them in my FREE book Favorite Non-Athletes in Sports.

FREE MIKE sports comic bookSome picks are as obvious as the bowtie I’m wearing. And, others on this list may surprise you.

None Are Actual Athletes

None are actual athletes. A few aren’t even real at all. But, all of them show up at NFL, MLB, NCAA and NHL games.

You will adore one of the most unlikely sportscasters on television.

You will envy the driver of the baddest maintenance vehicle in sports.

You will wince at the thought of a big mouthed bloviator.

You will probably scowl at the refs I feature. But, you’ll immediately recognize that games don’t get played without them.

You’ll recite familiar lines from a series of iconic movies starring a fictional fighting sports character.

You might proudly don the ridiculous foam hats worn by the loyal fans of this historic NFL franchise.

You will certainly agree that this guy’s no athlete, but he was an incredible showman in a non-sport sport now seen regularly on ESPN.

You will smile at the awe inspiring godlike figure in an imposing mural, perhaps the most recognized image in NCAA college football.

You’ll cheer madly over packaged meat products racing awkwardly around a baseball field.

Finally, you’ll sing along with a likeable large lady who needs to belt out a few bars, so fans in the stands can finally go home.

Enjoy my FREE book Favorite Non-Athletes in Sports!

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

MIKE Sports Comic: All Sports Footer

#TBT Sports Blog: ESPN’s Chris Berman

ESPN Announcer Chris BermanToday’s #TBT sports blog remembers one of the sports world’s all-time favorite talking heads – ESPN’s Chris Berman.

Berman may have only retired a year ago, but for many of us it seems like decades since he’s no longer a regular on ESPN telecasts.

Plus, you don’t need to be a swami to predict this ESPN legend’s inclusion in my sports comic book Favorite Sportscasters.

Check out this excerpt about one of the most revered talking heads in sports.

 

…..Synonymous with the ESPN brand, Chris Berman started with the then fledgling network way “back…back…back” in 1979.

He appeared on camera just one month after the cable sports giant officially launched on air.

And, then, “Whoop!” His career was “gone” and quickly transported into the national spotlight.

Since then, no one ever questioned whether Berman “could…go…all…the…way” to stardom in the ESPN television studio.

Confident, witty and fun, the exuberant Berman with the booming voice – hence the nickname Boomer – became a trusted household name in sports reporting.

Sports fans were immediately addicted listening to the large (6’5”) sportscaster reporting on sports with a style unlike any other.

During the next 30 years, his format evolved into the standard that viewers watched every evening around dinner time.

Who hasn’t been smitten by the intoxicating sound of “da da dunt, da da dunt” that preceded Berman behind the desk?

Chris Berman Anchored ESPN’s Iconic Sports Center

ESPN exploited Berman’s magnetic and magnanimous television appeal. The network appointed Berman anchor of its now iconic Sports Center show. He’s also regularly hosted Monday Night Countdown, Sunday NFL Countdown, US Open Golf and Stanley Cup Final shows. Plus, he’s covered 30 Super Bowls and hosted ESPN NFL shows for 28 years.

Berman’s studio brilliance has earned him ten Sports Emmy Awards and six NSSA Sportscaster-of-the Year Awards. He’s also become a beloved broadcaster in US sports and entertainment culture.

Although he’s not an actor by trade, Berman boasts his very own entertainment star. In 2010, he received the rarefied symbol of celebrity on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

The full-time television celebrity and part-time entertainment personality has eclipsed the bright ESPN cameras. He’s also appeared on stage with Huey Lewis and the News twelve times and has graced Hollywood movies eleven times.

Berman’s most popular films include Necessary Roughness in 1991, The Waterboy in 1998, The Longest Yard remake in 2011 and Grown Ups II in 2013.

All films aside, Berman’s best entertaining remains in the broadcast booth or in an ESPN studio.

Chris Berman Became Known for His Clever Nicknames

Here, the talented talking head on sports may be best known for his litany of clever nicknames. These may be Berman’s most notable monikers: Bert Be Home Blyleven, Curtis My Favorite Martin and Roberto The Alomar.

In 2010, ESPN signed Berman to an undisclosed contract extension. In exchange, Berman pledged his loyalty to the network by indicating he could never work with another media company.

In typical Berman catch-phrase fashion, the iconic anchor quipped about wanting to be a like Tony Gwynn, George Brett, Cal Ripken, Jr. and Walter Payton.

For this broadcast legend, retiring with the team he originally came in with would be the greatest honor.

With that said, what rumblin’, dumblin’, stumblin’ sports fan would ever doubt him?

That’s why ESPN’s Chris Berman is an easy choice at #6 in Favorite Sportscasters.

Favorite Sportscasters

Download the entire book for only 99 cents on Amazon.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!Football footer

#TBT Sports Blog: Ozzie Smith or MLB’s Wizard of Oz

Former St. Louis Cardinals' Ozzie SmithToday’s #TBT sports blog features one of my favorite MLB players ever – former St. Louis Cardinals’ shortstop Ozzie Smith or The Wizard of Oz.

If Dorothy, the Tin Man and the Scarecrow were baseball fans, they’d be off to find Major League Baseball’s wonderful Wizard of Oz.

Ozzie Smith played not to far from the Gateway Arch in the old Busch Memorial Stadium in St. Louis, MO.

Ozzie Smith’s incredibly quick reflexes, unparalleled aptitude with his glove and accurate arm contributed to his magical, wizard like play at shortstop. Smith’s skills made him a most worthy recipient of his clever Wizard of Oz nickname.

The Wizard of Oz is Also Featured in Favorite Sports Nicknames on Amazon

The Wizard of Oz is also included in the #19 spot in my sports comic book titled Favorite Sports Nicknames available for only 99 cents on Amazon.

Osbourne Earl “Ozzie” Smith retired in 1996 as arguably the greatest shortstop in Major League Baseball history. A 1982 World Series champ with the St. Louis Cardinals, Ozzie Smith ended his stellar 19 year career as the all-time leader in career assists (8,375) and double plays by a shortstop (1,590). The “Wizard of Oz” also set a National League record of 2,511 consecutive starts at his position.

The 5’10” and 175 lb. magician with a glove captured the National League Gold Glove Award an unprecedented 13 years in a row. He was named National League all-star shortstop an incredible 15 times.

Baseball’s Hall of Fame Inductee: Wizard of Oz

The Wizard of Oz’s defensive brilliance, coupled with an impressive 2,460 career hits and a lifetime .262 batting average, enabled him to whisk down baseball’s proverbial “yellow brick road” directly into Baseball’s Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame on the first ballot in 2002.

The St. Louis Cardinals retired Ozzie Smith’s #1 jersey in 1996. The Sporting News recognized his amazing defensive play and 2,000+ career hits by naming him #87 on its list of the top 100 greatest baseball players ever.

Baseball fans everywhere, even Dorothy, the Tin Man and the Scarecrow would do back flips of excitement, just like the Cardinals’ Ozzie Smith, while watching this dazzling Wizard of Oz perform on the baseball field in St. Louis.

Remembering the Wizard of Oz in today’s #TBT sports blog is as easy as Ozzie Smith handling a ground ball from his shortstop position in a Cardinals’ uniform.

Shop for Thousands of Authentic Autographed MLB Collectibles at SportsMemorabilia.comFor baseball fans interested in authentic Wizard of Oz or MLB collectibles and merchandise, simply click on the Sports Memorabilia logo above.

Please note that we earn a small commission in the event you purchase a product from Sports Memorabilia.

MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!

baseball footer