BRADEN LATEST IN LONG LIST OF COLORFUL CHARACTERS

As the nation was formally
introduced to our beloved
Dallas Braden
during the Perfect Game Media Tour these past weeks, it got me thinking about
all the colorful characters I’ve had the privilege to work with during my career
in sports PR.  While Dallas is truly one of the most unique
athletes I have ever encountered–(Do you know
anyone else who has a mustache tattoo
imprinted on their index finger!?)–the one common thread to all the sports
teams and leagues I’ve worked for is each has featured charismatic
personalities.  It’s why you’ll never get
bored in this industry.  So in tribute to
Braden’s recent appearance on Late Night
with David Letterman
, here’s my all-time Top 10 List of colorful characters
I’ve worked with over the years (including Braden). Today we’re going to
discuss the first 5, and tomorrow we’ll bring you 6-10.

 

  1. tex.jpgTex Schramm,
    World League President–
    Tex, who
    launched the NFL’s international league after building a legacy as the
    architect of “America’s Team,” the Dallas Cowboys, was kind of the
    John Wayne of pro sports. 
    A PR and marketing genius, Schramm was oblivious that there was a
    world outside of football.  As his
    PR man, I once accompanied him on a trip to Milan
    where he was attempting to establish a World League franchise in Italy.  We drove out to the small town of Monza one day to inspect a possible playing venue and
    Tex’s
    frustrations bubbled to the surface. 
    He started grumbling for no apparent reason.  Same thing later that evening as he was
    perusing a menu at a Milan
    restaurant.  I finally asked him,
    “What’s wrong.  You’ve been in a
    fowl mood all day.”  Schramm, still visibly
    disgruntled, responded, “Gee, Rose, everything
    here is in Italian!  Traffic signs, menus, everything!”  After digesting what I had just heard, I
    just kind of blurted it out…..”Tex, we’re
    in Italy!”

 

  1. Eddie “Meat
    Cleaver” Weaver, LA Express Defensive Tackle–
    Eddie was the type of character that a new
    football league attracts.  He had a
    decent college pedigree, having starred at Georgia on the Bulldog teams
    that featured Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker.  But it wasn’t his football playing that
    left the strongest impression.  It
    was his uncanny resemblance to Laurence Tureaud,
     better known as “Mr. T” in mid-80′s hit TV
    series, “The A-Team.”  Of course,
    underneath that tough guy exterior was a real teddy bear.  But he did love to intimidate when the
    opportunity presented itself.  One
    afternoon at our weekly luncheon with the Los Angeles area media, Weaver was a featured
    guest.  A rather inexperienced
    female correspondent for ABC Radio posed an innocent question to Meat
    Cleaver when he took the podium. 
    “Eddie, with skill position players like
    Steve Young getting all the media attention, do you ever
    feel someone like you is under appreciated?” 
    Mr. Weaver, in his best Mr. T impression, cast a stare at her,
    penetrating her very soul.  Then,
    retaining his fearsome scowl, responded, “What do you mean, skeeeeeeeel position?”  At this point, the reporter was shaking
    in her shoes.  Eddie, knowing he had
    her right where he wanted her, then cracked a big smile and the entire
    room burst into laughter.

 

  1. Zuber.jpegBob Zuber,
    Pepperdine Baseball Coach–
    While
    this may not be an obvious choice on the Rose character list, the more I
    think back to my early college days, the more “Zube” deserves to make the
    cut.  He arrived at Pepperdine as an
    assistant coach after a long stint at USC under legendary Trojan head
    coach
    Rod Dedeaux.  What set Zuber apart from any other
    coach was he was the absolute best
    bench jockey I had ever seen. 
    Normally, it would be players who traded barbs with the opposing
    players or hurled barbs at the team’s pitcher.  Not Zuber.  As far as he was concerned, baseball was
    mental warfare, and there was nothing off limits.  Over the course of a game, he would work
    himself into a real frenzy, almost in a scary kind of way. “Hey meat, you
    know everyone’s watching you so don’t
    stare
    in this dugout!” he would shout as a visiting batter would step
    into the box.  Then it would really
    get good.  “What’s it gonna be?  Fastball?  Curve? Change-up?  I
    don’t know….fastball, curve, changeup! 
    I don’t know!” 
    This
    would go all game long, and he’d get louder and louder.  Zube was a classic.

 

  1. Straw.jpgDarryl
    Strawberry, Giants Outfielder–
    One
    of the nicest guys I have ever met in sports, Strawberry had just returned
    from a drug rehab stint and seemed to be finally getting his life back in
    order.  He joined the Giants in
    mid-season and I asked his old PR director, the Mets’
    Jay Horwitz, what kind of guy he was.  I still remember Jay’s response, “Darryl
    is a real sweetheart.  Not a bad bone
    in his body.  He wants to please
    everybody.”  How true those words
    were.  As we tried to manage his
    media exposure during this recovery period as he tried to reestablish his
    baseball career, we told him we would have a full-blown, ask-anything
    media conference at Candlestick Park when he arrived, then we would limit
    media access to only post-game interviews about baseball and nothing
    else.  Everything seemed to go well
    for a few weeks, but I spoke to Darryl just prior to our Mets series in New York.  I told him that it was really important
    that he stick to our policy and not do any pre-game interviews, because if
    he did, then all bets would be off and it would be open season by the New York
    writers.  Straw assured me he would
    follow our instructions.  Then the
    first day at Shea Stadium, I arrive about four hours before the game,
    anticipating there might be a crowd that would gather at Darryl’s
    locker.  Well, as soon as I step foot inside the visitors’
    clubhouse, there’s
    Steve Serby, the Post’s veteran columnist,
    notebook in hand and holding an animated conversation with the former
    Mets’ superstar.  I politely
    interrupted the two of them and pulled Darryl aside.  “Darryl, what are you doing?  Didn’t we agree that you wouldn’t do any
    pre-game interviews?”  Shaking his
    head sheepishly, he said, “Hey man, I’m sorry.  It’s just that I’ve known Steve a long
    time and didn’t want to hurt his feelings.” 

 

  1. Thumbnail image for Margerum.jpgKen Margerum,
    Stanford All-American–
    On the other
    end of those majestic
    John Elway passes, Margerum was one of the greatest wide receivers in
    Stanford history.  And much like
    Braden, he was one of the greatest free spirits I ever publicized.  Sharing an upstairs’ quarters in a
    dilapidated house at the campus track with classmate
    Ivan Maisel, who would go on to Sports Illustrated and ESPN fame, Margerum was equally known
    for his adventuresome spirit. 
    Probably one of the first-ever wind surfers in American history,
    Kenny used to drive head football coach
    Paul Wiggin nuts by deciding it was safe to wind surf under
    the Bay Bridge while San Francisco gusts of wind would reach 30 or 40
    MPH.  And while Stanford is known
    for churning out fine student-athletes, Margerum was a category unto
    himself.  He was the first Stanford
    student-teacher-athlete, as he
    was the university’s first windsurfing instructor.  In a rare flash of genius, I pitched his
    windsurfing story to the Boston
    Globe
    when Stanford visiting Boston College one season and can
    honestly say, I remain the only PR guy to score a photo of an All-American
    football player gliding along Lake Laquinitas on a surfboard in a major
    national newspaper!

Tomorrow, in the Clubhouse Confidential, we’ll return with numbers 6-10, so check back in!

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