I'm always interested in chatting with people about their encounters with famous athletes. Had any?
Ozzie Smith was my favorite athlete I've met for a while... but I think Dot Richardson, a member of the first ever gold-medalist winning softball team in the Olympics, is my overall favorite. Love her story.
I have met a lot of famous athletes. It's hard to say who's the most famous. The one getting the most notoriety right now is Barry Bonds (his son attends my son's high school). I am happy to say that he was not hounded at his son's football games and he seemed to enjoy himself.
Whoa, that's a pretty big one. Very cool. It's good to see you over here
Of all the famous athletes you've met, which one were you the happiest to have encountered?
I just met Olympians Bonnie Blair, Nadia Comaneci and Bart Connor this past week. They are pretty high on my list.
I was working the Acura Tennis Classic in Rancho Mirage (CA) and ran into Anna Kournakova about 10 years ago. I was with some people that represented her apparel and footwear sponsor. She was still only like 17. We met up with her and her mom in a bar at the hotel. We played darts and hung out for a while. She was fun but a bit pretentious as you can imagine a girl so young getting all that attention might be. We all knew she was going to go on to be a star. And not a bad tennis player either.
Not baseball, but MANY years ago I played against Hockey Hall of Famer Rod Langway when he played for Randolph High School. I was a goaltender. As a defenseman he scored a hat trick. Oops.........
Had dinner with Lance about 7 years ago. Was just four of us. Pretty cool.
Best part of the experience was that it just re-enforced my philosophy that we are all just regular people. Yes, one of the people at dinner that night was the greatest cyclist of all time. That said, the evening was relaxed and it was clear we were all just a bunch of guys interested in joking around, talking some trash, and enjoying a decent meal.
I am always immensely impressed when someone can will themselves to reach the pinnacle of their profession or passion....that said, we are all just regular people deep down.
Whoa! That's awesome!
If you don't mind sharing, how did you find yourself among the greatest cyclist of all time for a dinner?
This is so not as cool, but kind of related: Sheryl Crow was my brother's music teacher in grade school.
In Baseball Ted Williams, I actually sat at a table with him and Tony Gwynn at an awards function in San Diego. The great triathlete Paula Newby-Fraser was being honored with those guys in the room. In football it was Bo Jackson in the early 90's but it wasn't a pleasent meeting. It was a charity function that I introduced Bo as being from Auburn University in Georgia and he immediatly got up in my face and yelled Alabama. You could hear a pin drop and later I apoligized with the lame excuse I was from the west coast.
Another football player was when I was teaching junior high in San Diego and the Phys Ed teacher asked me to play catch with an 8th grader. As he threw the football to me burning my hands I couldn't believe the incredibile arm on this 14 year old, that 14 year old was future Heisman and Super Bowl champion Marcus Allen.
Lebron James and Michael Jordan. Lebron was standing next to me at a hotel in LA right before he got drafted (he even had an entourage back then) and Michael was by humself trying to buy some produce at Albertson's in Del Mar before getting too noticed (in 1989 or 1990). Both were relatively humble, at least to the point that I wasn't turned off.
It was later in his life but I spent many hours with Ted Williams in the 4-5 years prior to his death. My son's best friends father was the curator of the Ted Williams Museum and Hitters Hall of Fame. My sons volunteered at the museum while they were in school. Every year they had an Induction Ceremony for the Museum, they would induct a few player's "from the past" and one current player from each league (American and National). My wife, sons, and I got to go to a lot of the "behind the scenes' activities for these events and we met a lot of famous ballplayers and people including ex-president George Bush and his wife Barbara. Still, to me, Ted was the best since I grew up a Sox Fan in Mass (used to sit in "Section 33" in the left field corner and watch Ted play when I was a young kid).
Lance Armstrong. He came out from Texas to train in San Diego when he was a youngster. He rode on the same Wendsday morning training rides that all the top cyclist and triathletes in the country rode. He was a brash kid, and nearly beat the top triathlete in the world before he came to SoCal. He was freakishly strong on the bike, and one of the "old timers" was able to convince him to switch from triathlons to bike racing because of the money combined with his talent. He was always friendly and respectful, and always listened to what us bike guys said. Good choice.
Also Roberto Clemente, Buck O'Neal, Tony Gwynn, Kenny Roberts(motorcycle roadracer), Willy McCovey and David Bailey (MX)
At least in Baseball I'd have to say Roy Campanella. 1989 from memory and we were both just lining up entering Dodger Stadium for the days game. He was in wheelchair of course and I was behind him and his family and we sort of just starting chatting about the Dodgers team and game that day. He was blown away that I was from Australia cheering on the Dodgers.
Out of many famous MLB Players I would choose to meet.. Roy would have been one of them anyway.
I was very sad to hear of his passing a few years after I met him.
Robin Yount, Paul Molitor, Bo Jackson, Howie Long, Charles Barkley, Tom Couples (golf), Bob Cousy, Tom Heinson, Oscar Robertson, Allen Iverson, Andy Reid, Joan Benoit-Samuelson (gold medal, track), Dave Silk (gold medal, hockey), Dale Murphy, Bill Rogers (gold medal/marathon), Tom Lasorda, Elroy (Crazy Legs) Hirsch, all the Red Sox in 1969 when we were introduced at Fenway for winning states in LL.
Some were neighbors. Some were friends of friends. Some I was seated next to on a flight. Some my uncle was their agent. I met Oscar Robertson by sneaking into the Celtics visiting locker room was I was a kid.
To TG ....The Real One.
RE: Bo Jackson
I never met Bo and I only ever saw one NFL game Live.. LA Raiders V Bengals in LA and it was Bo Jackson's last ever football game and I was there. From memory not long after that he was diagnosed with bone cancer in the hip.
I think Bo was a better baseball and football player than Neon Deon.
It was fun to watch Bo breaking bats over his knee after being K2'd.. I think he broke one on his helmet once.. LOL
I believe Bo Jackson could have been the greatest running back in the history of the NFL had he stuck with football. The guy was incredible. I'll never forget the time Brian Boswoth of the Seahawks squared up on Jackson and Jackson ran right through him. And he was fast too.