At least Minnesota won’t be a “right-to-work” state any time soon. Jesse “the Body/the Mind” Ventura, it turns out, is a union man.
In the mid ’80s, the governor-elect attempted to bring organized labor to the World Wrestling Federation. Ventura tells Jockbeat that he was upset that WWF grapplers received no benefits, as they were considered independent contractors. So, right before 1986’s Wrestlemania II— which generated over $1 million for the Federation— Ventura made a locker-room union pitch: “I told the guys, ‘No wrestlers, no show.’ ”
The effort fizzled after a wrestling comrade ratted out Ventura’s secret talks. The Bod also blames his fellow spandex-wearers for not standing up for themselves: “If they didn’t have the stones, I say the heck with them.” Afterward, Federation head honcho Vince McMahon gave Ventura a “talking-to” and, with friction from the union thing and a Hollywood career on the horizon, the two parted company.
Ventura says he never knew the stoolie’s identity until he deposed a WWF exec in a royalty lawsuit years later. “He said it was Hulk Hogan,” says Ventura. “I almost tipped over in my chair.”
The Hulkster denies everything. “As far as me ratting Jesse out, he was always talking union. He made this the shot heard round the world. Everybody was aware— by teletype, telegraph, telephone. His story just gets bigger every year.”
Despite their battle royal, Hogan says Ventura’s achievement has inspired him to make a presidential bid in 2000. “If Jesse can run against special interests in Minnesota, why can’t I do it for America?” reasons the Hulkster, who would become the first candidate of the New World Order since George Bush.
Running Up The Score
Continuing in the elections mode, Jockbeat couldn’t help but notice the bevy of right-wing Republican jocks who were elected to higher office last week— Jesse “the Governor” Ventura and his maverick politics notwithstanding. An electoral rundown:
Jim Bunning, former big-league pitcher Seat Won: Kentucky Senate seat, with 51 percent of the vote (beat out Democrat Scotty Baesler, a former UK basketball player) Jock Highlight: Member, Baseball Hall of Fame Prior Political Experience: House of Reps (1986 to present); Kentucky State Senate (198286); Fort Thomas, KY, City Council (198082)
J.C. Watts, former University of Oklahoma QB Seat Won: Oklahoma’s 4th District House seat, reelected with 62 percent of the vote (first elected in 1994) Jock Highlight: Orange Bowl MVP, 1980 & ’81 Prior Political Experience: State Corporation Commissioner (199195)
Steve Largent, former Seahawks WR Seat Won: Oklahoma’s 1st District House seat, reelected with 62 percent of the vote (plans to challenge Dick Armey for the post of majority leader; first elected in 1994) Jock Highlight: Member, Football Hall of Fame Prior Political Experience: None
Jim Ryun, three-time Olympic distance runner Seat Won: Kansas’s 2nd District House seat, reelected with 61 percent of the vote (first elected in 1996) Jock Highlight: Silver medal in the 1500 meters at the 1968 Mexico City games Prior Political Experience: None
In Praise Of Scabs
Last week, sports media writers for two major papers offered kudos to the “replacement” technical unit that produced the
Dallas-Philly Monday Night Football game. The Times‘s Richard Sandomir and USA Today‘s Rudy Martzke rolled out a laundry list of scab screwups but nonetheless gave praise to the crew— in place because of the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians one-day strike against ABC. “Lighting and audio problems,” did not appear to deter Martzke’s assertion that the crew still “shines.” And “solid” was how Sandomir described a production in which “something went awry late in the third quarter” and “bad lighting made Al Michaels, Dan Dierdorf and Boomer Esiason look ashen.” Such praise from writers who tend to turn the most minor of media incidents into wide-scale flare-ups.
contributors: David Brauer, Howard Z. Unger, Miles D. Seligman, Brian Parks Sports Editor: Miles D. Seligman