I just got done reading Moby’s autobiography Porcelain and what struck me about Moby is that in the early part of his book he talked about how many people he knew around the East Village in New York who went on to become celebrities. Like how he spent the evening watching an intense Viggo Mortensen acting in a student film at age 19. And that was only Chapter 1.
So I thought to myself, the One Year Anniversary of the Beacon of Speech webcast came and went and there’s no book coming out about that. As a matter of fact, I don’t think anyone I knew growing up became a celebrity or a public figure that would spur any interest, either. Dead, Defeated, or Dog Food Salesmen, that’s all I came up with.
Probing my brain, I intensely tried to think of any interactions with people I could name drop and came up with almost nothing. Almost….
1987-1993 - Benny Dargle
When I was a kid, I didn’t really like the Cavs. My favorite 3 Cleveland teams were the Force, the Indians, and the Browns. In the mid-80’s my favorite players from the indoor soccer team were forwards Keith Furphy, Craig Allen, and Kai Haaskivi, defenders Benny Dargle and Bernie James, and Goalies P.J. Johns and Chris Vaccaro. Even though I wasn’t the best soccer player, I miraculously made the high school team and was in awe that Benny Dargle was our new assistant coach.
It was apparent, fairly quickly, that I didn’t have the foot skills or the mean streak that was to Benny’s liking. I could read his mind and he thought I was soft. Dargle was such a fundamentally sound defender, both in the NASL and MISL. Now he was always professional to the players, but by the end of the season, he kind of disappeared from the team. I assume there was some sort of disconnect between him and the head coach.
When I coached travel soccer after graduation. I had Benny’s son on the team and his son quit soccer after the season. I felt horrible. I felt beyond horrible. If only I was a better coach.
So I met one of my heroes and let him down twice. Shortly thereafter I played against Benny in an indoor rec league game. Every time he got past mid-field and I was covering him, he took a shot, even when I was covering him tightly. Shot after shot were easily blocked by me, but it was evident he didn’t care if he scored. As the game ended, I had multiple welts all over my body from just getting drilled to no end. I shook his hand at the post game handshake and it was the only time he ever smiled at me.
1989 - Ricky Henderson
A couple of college friends of mine and I went to a Cleveland Indians game in September of 1989. The Oakland Athletics were in town and they were on their way to the AL West Championship. (And eventually a World Series Championship.) The Indians were playing in the cavernous old Municipal Stadium and about 3,000 people were in attendance. My friends and I all sat by the outfield wall, where there were about a dozen people scattered around 3 sections.
Inexplicably, Ricky Henderson started taunting the fans in, about, the third inning. Not we taunted him, he taunted us wanting to know why we showed up to watch a bunch of losers. Telling us that he’d F*** our girlfriends (who weren’t there) and told an old man, who told Ricky to watch his language, that he should “shut up or I’ll climb this f****** wall and beat your ass.” I’ll never forget, he then looked me right in the eyes and said “you got something to add white boy?” I shook my head no. He continued to heckle the fans through the sixth, when he apparently got bored.
Ricky Henderson was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2009. I was listening to the Jim Rome show a few years back and Jim Rome said everyone has a Ricky story, and he was right. Believe it or not, I still like Ricky Henderson.
1992 – Eddie Vedder
I had bought Lollapalooza tickets for me and my girlfriend for the 1992 edition of the traveling roadshow. Unfortunately, my girlfriend and I broke up and I took my younger sister instead. My sister was not much of an alternative music fan, so she wandered away as soon as we walked through the doors. I didn’t care, I was there to see everyone, but primarily Ministry. Saw Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Ice Cube and Jesus and Mary Chain. Between sets my sister ran up to me and said “I’ve been going down the mudslide and I think one of my friends is famous. I asked her what she was talking about and she took me to the back area of the lawn section. Eddie Vedder ran by me and said “where’d you go Jeannette? C’mon.” My sister said, “that’s him.” With my mouth agape, I said “that’s the lead singer of Pearl Jam.” She said “are they popular?” She then pointed to me and said “this is my brother.” Eddie Vedder then waved to me and kept running to the top of the mudslide. I told her we’d talk about Eddie later. She ran away and I watched my sister and Eddie Vedder go up and down the mudslide about a half dozen times before I went back to wait for Ministry to play and I cursed my ex-girlfriend’s name under my breath.
Early 2000’s - Bruce Miller
So I was playing some outdoor 30+ co-ed rec-league, the very, very last league you can go to before the only soccer you’re playing is Video Game Soccer, and I was lucky to get on Bruce Miller’s team. Now in the 70’s Miller was on the Canadian National Soccer team, in the 80’s he was in the MISL, and in the 90’s he coached the Cleveland Crunch to multiple NPSL championships.
The first practice I was with Bruce, he was telling us stories about playing on the National Team and I was mesmerized, Bruce was so passionate about soccer. Once on the field though, I noticed Miller limping around and asked another player when he’d be 100% and he said “never.”
Come to find out one of his knees was fused straight. He would never run normal again. But Bruce was tenacious and I was never as good as Miller, in my prime, than he was, basically on one leg. If anyone had an excuse to not play, it was Miller, but you’d have to drag him off those soccer fields.
I have nothing but great respect and admiration for Bruce Miller and I’m better person for have played with him. The last time I saw him, he was in charge of a fitness center, here’s a free advertisement: http://www.uxlonline.com/
(Note: In a game against indoor soccer legend Zoran Karic’s team, I saw Karic make an amazing pass that was the prettiest pass I’d ever seen in real life. Thankfully I didn’t have to cover him that day.)
Early 2000’s - Gary Mawson
While I was working at Iron Mountain, I met and worked with Gary Mawson. He seemed like a nice, regular old middle-aged guy. One day one of my co-workers told me Gary was a professional dart player. I never heard of such a thing. I assumed that meant he made a living hustling guys at bars, but no, I was dead wrong. Looked him up on the internet and he was a Top 100 Darter on 8 different occasions (96, 97, 98, 99, 00, 08, 09, and 2013.)
When Gary left Iron Mountain once he got his endorsement deal, I was jealous because he was living his dream. The one thing that Gary often spoke of was following your passion. (Even if it was playing Darts, which is not a sport. No offense to Gary, but these things are not sports: Horse Racing, Car Racing, Poker, Darts, Golf, and Spelling Bees.)
But hey, he was able to return to darts full time, so God bless ‘em. Gary is the type of guy you’d want to hang around with at the pub. In England. He seemed like a bit of a fish out of water at Iron Mountain.
(The picture above is of Dart Legend Phil Taylor. Phil Taylor played Gary Mawson in an epic 2012 match and this is the picture YouTube pulled up.)
Early 2000’s - Gary Mawson
Ted says he doesn’t think that Gary Mawson is a celebrity. He also worked with Gary for many years and has no beef with him. "He was a nice guy."
Unknown - Rocco Scotti
Ted was very uncooperative for this article. I had met other celebrities briefly, but it was for literally 2 seconds and no real interaction occurred. When I presented the idea of this article to Ted, he hadn’t even met a celebrity briefly, like at an autograph session or a sports arena. But I kept hounding him. So after harassing Ted, he finally came up with “I think the most famous person I ever met was Rocco Scotti and I just got his autograph.” Rocco Scotti?
For the initiated, Rocco Scotti was famous for singing the national anthem at Cleveland Indians games in the 70’s & 80’s. He did a really good job singing, but I’m not sure what his day job was. He passed away last year at the age of 95.
Both Ted and my wife were at the All-Star Game pictured above as kids.