“Let me give you some examples of the players that I loved when I was growing up. Rey Sanchez, Steve Buchelle, Joe Girardi, Mark Clark, Mitch Williams, etc…What the heck is wrong with me? Why would I like these guys? Iím actually kind of embarrassed to admit that I did. I even remember trying to be a ‘great SS’ like Rey Sanchez.”
In order to put him at ease, this is my list of childhood heroes, in order of embarrassment it causes me:
5) Ryne Sandberg
This one actually causes me no embarassment at all, but gives me a starting point. I still sign my emails with a “#23” at the bottom. As a known Chicago sports fan, everyone assumes it’s because of Michael Jordan. Those in the know, however, understood that it is in Ryno’s honor.
Ryno’s still my favorite player of all time.
4) Mr. T
He was BA Baracus on the A-Team and Clubber Lang in Rocky III (still the best Rocky bad guy, and not just because he killed Burgess Meredith, something Batman was never able to do). He wore all kinds of jewelry but somehow, in the way that German metal bands get away with having a silly keyboardist in the group, that never stopped him from epitomizing toughness.
3) Freddie Mercury
I LOVED Queen’s music, and still do, and thought Freddie Mercury was the coolest guy on the planet. When I was about ten or eleven somebody told me that he was gay. Only when I was fourteen or fifteen did I start to believe it, and not until I was in my twenties did I realize how openly, brazenly, and demonstratively show-tuney gay he was. It wasn’t embarassing to me that he was gay, just that it was obvious to everyone in the world but me. When he died of AIDS in 1991, the rock industry lost one of its finest vocalists and greatest live performers.
2) Lord British
The Ultima guy. I always imagined what I would say to this guy when I was a kid. After all, I played Ultima IV for at least 500 hours of playtime, the games were so deep and interesting, and he got away with wearing a crown in his pictures! When I got a job at Origin and met him I found out he was kind of a twerp.
Then I started calling him Dick British. All in all, he wasn’t a bad guy, but when you get an unrealistic image of a person in your mind, the person can only fall short in real life, so ol’ Captain English was a victim of my expectations.
1) Joey DeMaio (the lead singer for Manowar)
Manowar is a musically talentless metal band that sings about Dungeons and Dragons, riding on motorcycles, and having the capability to play music at high decibel levels. They always had paintings of themselves in leather, standing on a battlefield with vanquished foes and beautiful women dressed like they were on a Vallejo print. Joey DeMaio was always front and center, looking very heroic and muscular, like Conan the Barbarian with a guitar. I found them incredibly talented and their lyrics were deep and meaningful — until I turned thirteen.