It’s the best of both worlds for Miami Marlins starting pitcher Tom Koehler as the Legends of Wrestling Night is Saturday, Aug. 24 at Marlins Park in conjunction with the Miami Marlins/Colorado Rockies baseball game.
Goldberg, The Hart Foundation (Bret The Hitman Hart, Jim the Anvil Neidhart, Jimmy Mouth of the South Hart), The Dream Team (Greg The Hammer Valentine and Brutus The Barber Beefcake), Koko B. Ware, Chavo Guerrero Jr., The Genius (Lanny Poffo), Mr. Anderson, The Nasty Boys and more will participate in pre-game, during-game and post-game events.
Koehler, who loves baseball, is a long-time pro wrestling fan. So the right-hander took a minute to discuss - in a video interview - the wrestling event occurring at his home park.
YouTube video Miami Marlins Tom Koehler - Legends of Wrestling Night at Marlins Park
YouTube Jim Varsallone (the jimmyv3 channel)
YouTube video classic of Miami Marlins Tom Koehler at a Marlins charity golf tournament in 2012, discussing pro wrestling and WrestleMania 28 prior to WrestleMania 28 coming to Miami
YouTube Jim Varsallone (the jimmyv3 channel)
The Miami Marlins actually have a pro wrestling tie.
Sports broadcaster Craig Minervini works the Miami Marlins pre-game and post-game shows and more for Fox Sports Net Florida, the television network that carries the Marlins games.
WWF fans won’t know the name Craig Minervini, but they may remember the name Craig DeGeorge.
Minervini, when he was WWF interviewer Craig DeGeorge, conducted many TV interviews with WWF wrestlers to advance/promote WWF angles and shows in 1987-88. The Legends of Wrestling Night will be a mini-reunion for him and them.
So of course he will be at Marlins Park on Saturday, Aug. 24. Well, he has to be, but still.
“When I first heard about it, I thought it was really neat that they would do that, but I didn’t think I’d know almost all the guys,” Minervini chuckled. “It’s good. They got Bret The Hitman Hart, and that’s going to be exciting. Then I thought the rest they probably got 12 jobbers you never heard of, but, oh, then I saw they got Koko B. Ware. I wonder if Frankie is still alive. Then, Brutus The Barber Beefcake. Wow. Does he have new scissors? Jimmy Hart’s going to be there. The Nasty Boys. Jim The Anvil Neidhart who used to terrorize me during interviews. For me, this is like reliving the 80’s.”
Minervini worked during a good time in the company.
“Back then it was neat because it was just taking off and exploding,” he said. “I was there for WrestleMania III and IV. I always watched wrestling, even in the 70s. Vince McMahon [Jr.] at the Garden. I used to watch him do his commentary, when his father ran the company.”
Madison Square Garden in New York City served as the home house for WWF. Vince McMahon Jr. worked as the company’s TV announcer for his father, owner Vince McMahon Sr.
“I wasn’t a monster wrestling fan back in those days. So I had to brush up on it when I joined the company,” he said. “I didn’t even know what I was getting myself into and how big it was getting.”
Miniverni worked during the rise of Hulk Hogan and Hulk-A-Mania.
“Someone gave me a photo of me with Hulk Hogan, and I put it on Facebook,” he said. “It brought back some memories. Bringing Hogan onto a stage off this wrestling mat where we’d do the interviews, the crowds were roaring. His entrance with the music, whether it was when I was bringing him in to do an interview or when after the TV show was over, I’d stay around for his dark match, that excitement from the crowd matched any sporting event I’d ever been at or covered -- NFL Super Bowl, NBA Finals, Stanley Cup, Marlins World Series.”
Minervini mastered the interview technique to promote the touring WWF circus. A separate interview for each town WWF was visiting.
“Each interview was 2 minutes and 24 seconds, and we would do 120 interviews in a ballroom of a Holiday Inn in Cape Girardeau, Missouri,” he said. “Those were not during TV shows. Those were just me and the wrestlers working. We’d go to a Motel 6 or whatever hotel. Nothing fancy. They’d put up that blue WWF backdrop, and I’d do 20 interviews with Hulk Hogan back-to-back-to-back. Each 8x11 card in magic marker would have June 11, Madison Square Garden and the card with all the guys on it.
“Hogan was great because he would start out with small cities like Utica, Pennsylvania; Springfield, Massachusetts; Spencer, Missouri; and then say, ‘OK brother, bring out New York.’”
Minervini recalls former Oakland A’s pitcher Dave Stewart and his teammates attending WWF shows to view the Hulkster upclose. Before Mike, everyone wanted to be like Hulk.
Minervini says many baseball players and other athletes were into pro wrestling during his tenure and still are today. Like Miami Marlins pitcher Tom Koehler, they like it.
Minervini thinks it great Marlins players including Koehler, Steve Cishek and Logan Morrison got a kick watching some old footage of Minervini when he was DeGeorge - thanks to YouTube and other social media outlets.
Minervini still owns the jackets from his WWF days including the light blue and dark blue he wore when working “Superstars” with Lord Alfred Hayes. He admitted it might be just a little snug to wear on Aug. 24, but carrying it over his shoulder is an option.
YouTube video Craig DeGeorge on WWF Update Desk - Sept. 26, 1987
YouTube video Craig DeGeorge interviewing the Honky Tonk Man, Jimmy Hart, Macho Man Randy Savage and Elizabeth, leading to the formation of the Mega Powers - 1987
• Bill Goldberg and The Hart Foundation (Bret The Hitman Hart, Jim The Anvil Neidhart, Jimmy Mouth of the South Hart) headline a Legends of Wrestling Night on Saturday, Aug. 24 when the Miami Marlins host the Colorado Rockies at Marlins Park.
The event also features The Dream Team (Greg The Hammer Valentine and Brutus The Barber Beefcake), Koko B. Ware, The Nasty Boys, Bushwhacker Luke, The Genius (Lanny Poffo), Mr. Anderson (Mr. Kennedy), Chavo Guerrero Jr., Garett Bischoff, Wes Brisco, Davey Boy Smith Jr. and Craig DeGeorge.
Goldberg will throw out the first pitch.
There will be an autograph session on the Promenade Level during the game.
Three to four wrestling matches will follow the game on the West Plaza.
Wrestlers subject to change.
Just buy a Marlins ticket for the game on Aug. 24, and the wrestling show is included. Game time is 7:10 p.m.
For ticket information, visit http://miami.marlins.mlb.com/ticketing/index.jsp?c_id=mia.