johnnysama

Encounters with sports personalities

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Self-explanatory; this thread asks if you've met any sports athletes, broadcasters, coaches, et al.

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I have met Rick Rizzs every Mariners FanFest since 2011. He's a pretty nice down-to-earth guy. :D I also got to see the Mariners' Franklin Gutierrez. But that's it as far it goes, for me, at least.

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201? Y'all are OLD!

"Brushes With Greatness", as the retiring Letterman would say it, is best for your personal friends. Without pics, it is all tall tales.

Plus, our own "DeFrank" kinda already won any/every version of this for board members, and we've had a few of these, when it was in another section. I've made my comments in those threads and there's no reason to add who was on a flight, in the same hotel or restaurant, or who I saw in a casino or bar.

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I ran into Mick Foley entering a restroom as he was leaving it. That's pretty much it.

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I ran into Mick Foley entering a restroom as he was leaving it. That's pretty much it.

I took an elevator with Big Boss Man.

I think wrestler encounters are more interesting than any other encounter. One day I'd like to meet Hulk Hogan; he did a book signing in the Seattle area a couple of years ago, but I couldn't get there.

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I played beer pong with a current NHLer, former Leaf. Don't really want to publish his name. Yes, we won. Hilarious guy, incredible drinker.

I refereed Nik Antropov's kid and he was in the crowd. Obviously his kid was good but wasn't the best on the ice. Granted, this was over 4 years ago.

Went to high school, played shinny with a current Toronto Marlie. Dipped his toes in the NHL. To be blunt, he is there for his punching ability. Still definitely the best player I've ever been up against, there is no way I would want to face this guy on the ice. Mainly because he is the better part of a foot taller than me, and probably 100 lbs heavier.

Hockey runs this city

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Met Dale Murphy when I worked the '99 All Star game. Classy guy. Shook my hand, talked to me for a good ten minutes. And I grew up a Dodger fan.

Also met Yaz at the same game. Big jerk.

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I went to WrestleMania XXIX and got tickets to their first Axxess show during the weekend. It was a Thursday night and didn't expect the big stars to be out. However, we got some good names. Mark Henry was solid. Good guy. Hunico and Camacho were so excited that people came over to their table that they basically wanted us to stay there until other people got there. Titus O'Neal and Darren Young popped hard when we brought "washrags" with us to hold up during a picture. We bought them at KMart in Penn Station prior to boarding our train for the Izod Center in hopes of seeing the Primetime Players. Luckily, they were there. Epico and Primo were sleepy. The best guy, was by far, Cesaro. The line to see him was getting pretty long and the guy running the line said "No more pictures, only autographs." Cesaro stood up and said "Don't listen to him; the United States champion does what he wants!" and proceeded to take pictures with just about everyone. I shook his hand, told him how much of a fan I was of his in ROH and he asked me a few questions about it (vs Bryan Danielson at Northern Navigation) and told me some extra stuff about it, too.

Used to try to meet players after Springfield Falcons games during the lockout in 2004-05. Pascal Pelletier was an ass. Treated signing autographs like I was asking for a kidney. Good thing he never made it to the big time. Gregg Naumenko was also a pretty miserable person. Dean McAmmond on the other hand, was cool. Brought an old card of him to have signed and he joked about his atrocious early-90s hair. Even ended a phone call early to come over to us. My friend and I were approaching, saw him on his phone, and quickly backed away. He stopped the call and talked to us for a bit. Stand up guy. A young Albany River Rat named Zach Parise was by far the best player I encountered. Talked with me for a good 5-10 minutes after signing an index card for me. We talked and joked about the lockout. Just a real, personable guy. Hoping fame didn't go to his head too much.

I gotta go back to my parents place and rummage through the "player sheets" I made during those autograph houndings. I probably scooped up some good 'graphs!

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I once saw Jeff Saturday and the a group that I can only assume was the offensive line of the Colts, eating at Fogo de Chao, an really expensive, all you can eat Brazilian steakhouse in Indianapolis.

Which makes sense, really.

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I ran into Mick Foley entering a restroom as he was leaving it. That's pretty much it.

I took an elevator with Big Boss Man.

I think wrestler encounters are more interesting than any other encounter. One day I'd like to meet Hulk Hogan; he did a book signing in the Seattle area a couple of years ago, but I couldn't get there.

I brought it up in one of our rasslin' threads before, but I got to play softball with former ECW Champion The Sandman a few weeks ago. I spotted The Blue Meanie at a Philly bar once, although I didn't talk to him. I also walked around a local shopping mall with (now infamous) Virgil.

In went to Detroit for the 2010 Frozen Four. Before the championship game, we went to Cheli's Chili for some beers ans happened to walk into the Wisconsin (who played in the game vs. BC) pep rally. As we made our way to the outside area, security pushed me back. I didn't know why, but when I looked over, Wisconsin Alum Chris Chelios walked right in front of me. Right behind him was Johnny Damon (he was on the Tigers that year). I got to high five Damon as he walked in. Admittedly, I hate Johnny Damon, but it was still pretty cool to have those two walk right in front of me. Side note: the Badgers' pep rally was so much fun.

Before a Lions game a few years ago, I got to meet Herman Moore. He was just signing autographs, so it wasn't a random encounter or anything.

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Working in hockey, I get to meet a lot of people.

Johnny Bower, Bobby Hull, Ken Dryden, Paul Henderson, Marty McSorley, Ric Nattress, Wendel Clark, Doug Gilmour, Mike Peca, Frank Pieterangelo, Tom Fergus, Sylvain Lefebvre, Brian Burke, Kirk Maltby, Jay McKee, Ben Scrivens, Cory Conacher, Kevin Bieksa, Ryan Ellis, Zack Stortini, Jake Gardiner, Joe Colborne, Cam Talbot, Connor McDavid, Walter Gretzky, and Ron MacLean and they've all been pretty nice. A few funny stories, though.

Johnny Bower: Met him at a sports expo. They were charging $20 to meet him to get something signed, and the line was ridiculous. Went out to the car in the parking lot, and his car stopped for us at the crosswalk. I saw it was him, and went over and asked for a picture. He obliged, and I got a selfie with the China Wall.

Ken Dryden: Apparently I have a twin. Was at the Leafs' Blue and White Game in Hamilton when he was still with the team, and he refused to sign my program because I had "already had something signed". Eventually he relented and signed.

Walter Gretzky: Almost ran him over running to the bathroom between overtime periods at the Sutherland Cup (Ontario Jr. B Championship) I had to be back in my seat in the press box before the puck dropped, so i was jogging to the restroom because I knew there would be a line. Mr. Gretzky stepped right out in front of me, and I had to dodge him to keep from knocking him down.

Cam Talbot, Paul Henderson, and Ron MacLean were fantastic. Marty McSorley is really nice too.

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I met Phil Niekro at a pizza place in Cooperstown in 2011. He's a really nice dude. He was up there for induction weekend.

Brian McCann came to my school when I was in 7th grade and I got to talk to him. Also a nice guy as well.

If you know about FCS football, then you've heard of Taylor Heinicke. He broke the division 1 passing yards in a game record in 2012. He went to my high school and I saw him at one oof our playoff games last year and talked to him shortly.

Lastly, I met Kyle Maynard. He's the wrestler who was born with half arms and legs. He went to my high school and was extremely successful. He's so humble and can inspire you in a second.

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When I was starting out in hockey, I cross checked Dave Babytch's son into the boards from behind and almost broke his neck.

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Most of the names I would come up with would be before everyone's time. Beyond that, I will skip most of the "hey, I saw" stuff.

I used to play Little League with the sons of former Orioles Terry Crowley and Mark Belanger, so I was able to meet both of them a few times. I also lived across the street from Wade Griffin and Randy Burke of the Colts in the late 70s (when young players still had to live pretty modestly). We used to play football in their yard and had the run of their basement to play foosball because they kept the basement door unlocked for us. In addition to Griffin and Burke, I got to meet a bunch of other players.

I will throw in one "I ran into" moment. Back around 2000-2001, I watched the Johnny Unitas "Sports Century" profile. The next morning, I had to fly for business and saw Johnny U sitting completely by himself next to an empty gate. I normally let celebrities keep to themselves, but I felt inspired from the show the night before and approached him. He was very nice during our two minute talk, after I told him -- through quaking voice -- how much I admired him and had enjoyed the profile the night before.

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In 2006, when I was 8, I went to a Q&A session there was an event at a local fairgrounds that had a Q&A session with Kevin Harvick. I got to ask him a couple questions. One was "Who was your biggest rival?" and the other was "What do you think of Tony Stewart?" (I was not a Stewart fan at the time). His answers were 1) Scott Riggs, which I believe that has changed as Riggs has practically fallen off the face of the NASCAR world, and he said that him and Tony Stewart were great friends. This is obvious now, but at the time I did not know that Stewart drove one of Harvick's Busch/Nationwide/XFINITY cars from time-to-time that year. After he responded, he saw I didn't have a happy look on my face and said "Not the answer you were looking for, huh?" I laugh about it now. I really want to go to a race sometime in the next few years so I can meet more drivers face-to-face.

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I ran into Juwan Howard at a visit to the Atlantis resort while on my honeymoon in the Bahamas. He had his wife and kids with him, and seemed really pissed off. I mentioned to my wife "that guy used to play in the NBA," only to realize a couple years afterwards that he was still playing in the NBA until 2013.

At a Kenny Chesney concert in 2006, I ran into all three of the Bears quarterbacks. Standing up by the stage, I turn to my left and I'm staring Brian Griese in the eyes from two feet away. He looked at me, waiting for me to say something to him, and I didn't because I couldn't think of anything other than, "hey, you're Brian Griese." We stared at each other for a good 15 seconds. In retrospect, it was pretty awkward. Rex Grossman was arguing with his wife or something, seemed ticked. Kyle Orton, as to be expected, was completely hammered, leaning against the stage to hold himself up.

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My family and I once met former Red Wings deffenseman Vladimir Konstantinov at a Rennisance festival. I was about 1 or 2 years old at the time, so I don't really remember it too vividly. He seemed like a really nice guy, even though it was after the infamous crash.

I also met former Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta at after a game in Baltimore in 2012, before he tested positive for steroids. I got his autograph, which would be cool except for the fact that I despise cheaters.

As I posted before, I met 1990s NHL goaltending great John Vanbiesbrouk at a junior hockey league game. I also saw, but I didn't bother, U of M hockey coach Red Berenson. The reason why the two were there was that Vanbiesbrouk is the general manager of one of the teams, and a couple of players had committed to the University of Michigan. I'll try to get each of their autographs at another game in November on the 16th. I'll see if I could get a Team USA goalie mini-stick to be signed by VBK, and I have a couple of 1970s Red Berenson cards.

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Most of mine were U of Wisconsin athletes while on campus; a handful of pro games among them (Tony Simmons, who played briefly for the Patriots and someone else was a really nice guy, as was Paul Grant, who had a cup of coffee in the NBA).

My best was in the 1980s when I was about 10. My parents and I went to Orlando, where the Twins trained in those days. We got to the ballpark really early and were sort of roaming around batting cages, etc. We heard a thick accent say "hey, what are you doing here?!" It was then-batting coach Tony Oliva (who is on many lists of best non-HOFers). He was awesome. It was a long time ago, so I don't remember much of what he said, but he was very funny and accommodating. He signed the baseball card of him that I brought and as we were leaving the area he called "hey" and tossed me a ball (like the old Mean Joe Greene commercials).

I met Viking pro-bowler (late 80s - early 90s) Joey Browner at work-related meetings. He was doing some public sector outreach work for the transit provider. He was a nice guy and posed for a photo.

I am told that when I was 5, I met Herb Brooks. It was 1979...my dad says he asked how they'd do in the Olympics and Herb said that he thought they'd have a shot. I have no memory of this, however.

"Met" is a strong word, but I got to shake Barry Sanders's hand at the NFL Experience in the early 1990s when the Super Bowl was in Minnesota. We were waiting in line for the field goal kick or something. He gave a light smile and shook hands with my friend and I but the suit he was with was quick to say "no autographs". I think he wanted to diffuse it before it became common knowledge that Barry was there (and it worked). Barry is undoubtedly my favorite NFLer of all time and I thought that was very cool though would loved to have acquired and autograph or photo. I was in high school still so I had not had too many such run-ins.

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I've had a few.

Roy Jones Jr., Emmitt Smith and Derrick Brooks are all from Pensacola. Everyone's cool with Roy back home (dude still lives there--he never left), no one cares about Emmitt (long story), and Derrick is my blood cousin.

I once assembled some seafood orders for several Carolina Panthers receivers (this was around '02 or so). I don't rremember their names or why they were in Pensacola for that matter. I do know they dang near cleaned out our entire oyster stock that day.

Several years prior I had a chance encounter with, of all people, Wayne Gretzky. How'd this happen in Pensacola of all places? At the time his younger brother Brent played on the ECHL's Ice Pilots--alongside another guy by the name of Glen Metropolit, who eventually played his way onto the Washington Capitals circa 2000 or so. Met them all at one of the meet-the-team events.

Up in Pittsburgh...out one nnight at a club in Station Square, parked myself in an empty booth to get my bubbly on. Ten minutes later security kicked me out, claimed the booth was reserved. Who should come walking up to me but none other than Barry Bonds (who by the way didn't look near as big in person as he did on TV). I simply gave him the "what's up" head nod and went on about my business.

Different night, different club...outside chillin', scoping the scene...here comes Hines Ward, all by himself, sauntering down the walkway. Why the guy had on a LeBron James Cavaliers jersey on--replica at that--was beyond me. Of course, after wishing him luck on the Steelers' next game (this was a Saturday night), I asked him out of curiosity why he chose to wear something from Cleveland in Pittsburgh. Let's just say the response I got back synced up with what people around town had been telling me for months: dude was a humongous ass.

And...during my first deployment I met a few SportsCenter anchors while they were taping live shows at our base camp. I remember chatting with Stuart Scott, Kenny Mayne, Linda Cohn (good Lord is that woman short), and I believe Brian Kenny. There were others but I don't remember their names.

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I played beer pong with a current NHLer, former Leaf.

I've done the same with a current AHLer.

I lived on the same floor as Blazers center Meyers Leonard our freshman year so I ran into him a lot. There's one really good story from that, but this isn't the place for it. Then there a a bunch of other Illinois athletes I've met, but none that are really notable to people that didn't go here.

When I was in high school I worked at an ice cream shop and had Brent Sopel come in twice. He was with his kids, so I didn't say anything other than hey. He left a nice tip and seemed pretty cool in the limited interaction I had with him.

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This is such an awesome thread. Dare I say, Goldmine potential?

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