Through the negotiations of Charlie at work Melanie and I lucked into a good deal for an event this Sunday that the main stream media would like you to think is an NFL football game between the Carolina Panthers and the Minnesota Vikings. What is taking place Sunday evening, or possibly Sunday afternoon if NBC decides to use their flexible scheduling option an air a different game in prime time that has implications on the upcoming playoffs, is what we are calling The Brett Favre Show. Brett Favre is a rare athlete, he's a shoe in for his sports Hall of Fame. Opportunities like this don't come around too often so I'm excited about being at this game.
Thinking about Brett Favre and his Hall of Fame inevitability got me to thinking about how many Hall of Fame athletes I have seen play. This is a few I came up with off the top of my head:
Kevin McHale: I saw him play his last game in that playoff game in Charlotte when Alonzo Mourning hit "the shot." I still can't believe the Hornets let Mourning get away.
Reggie Jackson: I saw him play for the Angels at the old Tiger Stadium. My Dad and I drove to Detroit specifically to see Rod Carew but he was injured and didn't play. I remember Reggie putting on a show during batting practice. He also hit a triple that day. He only hit 49 triples in his career so I guess that was a special moment.
Steve Young and Jerry Rice: Back when the Panthers were playing their first season at Clemson I took a trip with a friend and his father to see the 49ers whup up on the young Panthers team. During that game Steve Young threw a pass to Jerry Rice down the opposite sideline. Rice jumped in the air and caught the ball of the top of the helmet of the Panther defender. The crowd went crazy because that is why 75% of us were there.
Ricky Henderson: When I was in the Marines a buddy and I took a trip to Anaheim Stadium to see the Angels play the Oakland A's. We wanted to see two things, Rickey steal a base and Jose Canseco hit a home run. We saw both. I remember Jose Canseco shagging fly balls in front of our seats down the right field line and he caught one right up next to the stands. He was a huge person. Tall, wide and built like a brick shithouse that had been pumped full of steroids. The home run he hit was a bullet. It was one of his famous line drive homers that seemed to skim across the field right above the fielders' heads.
Jim Thome: I saw him play several times during the year he played for the AA Charlotte Knights. I loved watching him hit.
Chipper Jones: He hit a home run against the Charlotte Knights when I was there in the early 90s.
Dale Earnhardt: The first NASCAR race I went to was the 1990 fall Busch race (now Nationwide) at the Charlotte Motor Speedway (now Lowe's Motor Speedway). Current Winston Cup (now whatever the hell they call it) driver, Dale Earnhardt, was still racing in the Busch race whenever the two schedules coincided. At this point I didn't know Dale Earnhardt or anybody else in racing. I had heard of Richard Petty and knew they ran this race called the Daytona 500 every year but was the extent of my racing knowledge. In the early goings of this particular race I saw a black car with a white #3 on its roof passing cars two at a time in turn 3. I asked my Dad who that driver was. He said, "That's Dale Earnhardt, Eddie, best fucking driver out there." He wasn't kidding.
Obviously Mark Martin will make the NASCAR Hall of Fame some day and I can always say I saw him win a race because I was there this May when he won the 2009 Southern 500.