What is your biggest love? Other than your family and close friends, of course. Was there anything that you grew up with that you still love today? Because of my grandmother, I have two loves in life. Both can be looked at as blessings and curses: The Pittsburgh Pirates and professional wrestling.
My mother was a single parent for a good bit of my childhood. She worked many hours and was not home a lot. Thankfully, my grandmother babysat me a ton. I can’t tell you how many nights I spent with her. She didn’t go out much, so much of my time there was parked in front of the tv. I’m not mad about that, though. It gave me a great appreciation for movies and cheesy 80s tv shows.
Baseball and wrestling were two things that we always watched together though. My grandmother’s favorite team was the Atlanta Braves, especially their star player, Dale Murphy. I never understood how an old lady from Pittsburgh could cheer for the Braves. For me, the Pirates were the only team that mattered. Thankfully, she never complained and always let me watch my Buccos. It sounds odd, but it was my grandmother that taught me so much of the game. She knew more than most men. Not only would we sit and watch, but she would explain to me what was going on in each situation. Of course, during this time, the Pirates and Braves were the two best teams in Baseball. They met up against each other two years in a row in the NLCS. Sadly, the Braves won in each of those two years. My grandmother never rubbed it in even though I could see a little smirk on her face when the Braves held up the trophy. This was over 25 years ago, and I’m happy to say that my love for the game and my team has not wavered one bit.
People make fun of me a bit for still being a wrestling fan for all these years, but I can’t help it. When you grow up with something, it becomes a part of you. I’ve learned that you will be a lot happier embracing these things than trying to run from them. Every Monday night, my grandmother and I would get our weekly fix of wrestling by watching Bobby the Brain Heenan and Gorilla Monsoon host Prime Time Wrestling. I would always look forward to seeing my hero, Hulk Hogan, take down the likes of The Iron Shiek, Macho Man Randy Savage, and the dreaded Earthquake.
Just like with baseball, my grandmother knew her wrestling. She would tell me about all the holds people were in as well as who her heroes of the past were. She liked Pedro Moralas and the Polish terror, Ivan Putski. However, no wrestler was bigger in my grandmother’s eyes than the great Bruno Samartino. She told me about how as a child, Bruno and his mother hid in the mountains from the Nazis, only to escape to America. She stuck her chest out with pride when she told stories about how when they came here, they settled in Pittsburgh. I don’t watch wrestling as much as I used to, but I still check it out as much as I can and every time a live event is in town, I make every effort to make it there.
It’s funny when you think of some of the things our family has passed down to us. It could be the love of a sport, politics, movies, art, anything. What’s good is this is what keeps them alive in us. I can’t say I remember every single thing about my grandmother. She has been gone over twenty years. I have a hard time remembering the food she made me or the clothes she wore. I hardly even remember what her voice sounded like. However, I’ll never forget all those summer nights watching baseball with her, or, curled up on the couch, listening to Gorilla and the Brain calling exciting wrestling action. These are things I hope to pass on to my kids one day. And because of that, she will live forever.