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The Only 4 Hawaiians ever to make the MLB All-Star Team

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When the Phillies' Shane Victorino received a record 15.6 million fan votes last week, he beat out the Giants' Pablo Sandoval for the last spot on the National League All-Star Team. (Recent tradition gives the last spot to the people. Though, to be fair, the people can vote as often as they like. For instance, three Phillies fans won a radio station promotion and sat in the press box lounge for 52 straight hours clicking nonstop for Victorino.)

By earning the spot, Victorino (aka The Flyin' Hawaiian), became only the fourth Hawaiian ever to make the All-Star team. Here are some factoids about each Hawaiian, as you gear up for tomorrow night's game (read: endless series of Taco Bell commercials).

1. Charlie Hough

Born: January 5, 1948, Honolulu, Hawaii
Position: Pitcher
Career highlight: Hough holds the distinction of being the oldest Major Leaguer born in Hawaii to eventually make the All-Star team, which he did in 1986 (a theme, you'll discover shortly). He pitched his best years for the Texas Rangers and left Texas as the franchise leader in wins, strikeouts, complete games and losses.
What's he doing now? Hough is the pitching coach for the Inland Empire 66ers of San Bernardino, the AA affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

2. Ron Darling

darlingBorn: August 19, 1960, Honolulu, Hawaii
Position: Pitcher
Career highlight: Selected to the 1985 All-Star team when he played for the Mets, the team he'd help win the World Series in 1986.
What's he doing now? Working as a color commentator on TBS, as well as for the Mets on both SNY and WPIX.

3. Sid Fernandez

afernadezBorn: October 12, 1962, Honolulu, Hawaii
Position: Pitcher
Career highlight: Just like Darling, Fernandez helped the Mets win the '86 World Series. He also went to the All-Star game that year, and repeated the following year, thanks to a strong first half of the year (he'd only go 3-3 after the break).
What's he doing now? Living in Hawaii again. He and his wife run the Sid Fernandez Foundation, which awards college scholarships to seniors from the Fernandezes' alma mater, Kaiser High School. He also plays a lot of golf.

4. Shane Victorino

victorinoBorn: November 30, 1980, Wailuku, Hawaii (the only one of the four not born in Honolulu)
Position: Outfielder (the only one of the four who isn't a pitcher)
Career highlight: Shane helped the Phillies win the World Series last season, and also won a Gold Glove Award last year. He blogged for the Phillies all through the playoffs, and has become known as one of MLB's most upstanding players with a winning attitude/approach to the game.
What's he doing now?
Taking BP in St. Lou.

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Big Questions
Who Was Chuck Taylor?
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From Betty Crocker to Tommy Bahama, plenty of popular labels are "named" after fake people. But one product with a bona fide backstory to its moniker is Converse's Chuck Taylor All-Star sneakers. The durable gym shoes are beloved by everyone from jocks to hipsters. But who's the man behind the cursive signature on the trademark circular ankle patch?

As journalist Abraham Aamidor recounted in his 2006 book Chuck Taylor, All Star: The True Story of the Man behind the Most Famous Athletic Shoe in History, Chuck Taylor was a former pro basketball player-turned-Converse salesman whose personal brand and tireless salesmanship were instrumental to the shoes' success.

Charles Hollis Taylor was born on July 24, 1901, and raised in southern Indiana. Basketball—the brand-new sport invented by James Naismith in 1891—was beginning to take the Hoosier State by storm. Taylor joined his high school team, the Columbus High School Bull Dogs, and was named captain.

After graduation, instead of heading off to college, Taylor launched his semi-pro career playing basketball with the Columbus Commercials. He’d go on to play for a handful of other teams across the Midwest, including the the Akron Firestone Non-Skids in Ohio, before finally moving to Chicago in 1922 to work as a sales representative for the Converse Rubber Shoe Co. (The company's name was eventually shortened to Converse, Inc.)

Founded in Malden, Massachusetts, in 1908 as a rubber shoe manufacturer, Converse first began producing canvas shoes in 1915, since there wasn't a year-round market for galoshes. They introduced their All-Star canvas sports shoes two years later, in 1917. It’s unclear whether Chuck was initially recruited to also play ball for Converse (by 1926, the brand was sponsoring a traveling team) or if he was simply employed to work in sales. However, we do know that he quickly proved himself to be indispensable to the company.

Taylor listened carefully to customer feedback, and passed on suggestions for shoe improvements—including more padding under the ball of the foot, a different rubber compound in the sole to avoid scuffs, and a patch to protect the ankle—to his regional office. He also relied on his basketball skills to impress prospective clients, hosting free Chuck Taylor basketball clinics around the country to teach high school and college players his signature moves on the court.

In addition to his myriad other job duties, Taylor played for and managed the All-Stars, a traveling team sponsored by Converse to promote their new All Star shoes, and launched and helped publish the Converse Basketball Yearbook, which covered the game of basketball on an annual basis.

After leaving the All-Stars, Taylor continued to publicize his shoe—and own personal brand—by hobnobbing with customers at small-town sporting goods stores and making “special appearances” at local basketball games. There, he’d be included in the starting lineup of a local team during a pivotal game.

Taylor’s star grew so bright that in 1932, Converse added his signature to the ankle patch of the All Star shoes. From that point on, they were known as Chuck Taylor All-Stars. Still, Taylor—who reportedly took shameless advantage of his expense account and earned a good salary—is believed to have never received royalties for the use of his name.

In 1969, Taylor was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. The same year, he died from a heart attack on June 23, at the age of 67. Around this time, athletic shoes manufactured by companies like Adidas and Nike began replacing Converse on the court, and soon both Taylor and his namesake kicks were beloved by a different sort of customer.

Still, even though Taylor's star has faded over the decades, fans of his shoe continue to carry on his legacy: Today, Converse sells more than 270,000 pairs of Chuck Taylors a day, 365 days a year, to retro-loving customers who can't get enough of the athlete's looping cursive signature.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at

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retro-wrestling, eBay
Pop Culture
The Time a Wrestling Fan Tried to Shoot Bobby Heenan in the Ring
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retro-wrestling, eBay

For a man who didn't wrestle much, Bobby “The Brain” Heenan wound up becoming more famous than a lot of the men flexing in the squared circle. The onscreen manager of several notable grapplers, including André the Giant and “Ravishing” Rick Rude, Heenan died on Sunday at the age of 73. His passing has led to several tributes recalling his memorable moments, from dressing up in a weasel suit to hosting a short-lived talk show on TNT.

While Heenan’s “heel” persona was considered great entertainment, there was a night back in 1975 when he did his job a little too well. As a result, an irate fan tried to assassinate him in the ring.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Heenan was appearing at the International Amphitheater in Chicago as part of the now-defunct AWA wrestling promotion when his performance began to grate on the nerves of an unnamed attendee seated on the floor. Eyewitnesses described the man as friendly up until wrestlers Verne Gagne and Nick Bockwinkel started their bout with Heenan at ringside in Bockwinkel’s corner.

“Get Heenan out of there,” the fan screamed, possibly concerned his character would interfere in a fair contest. Heenan, known as “Pretty Boy” at the time, began to distract the referee, awarding an advantage to his wrestler. When the official began waving his arms to signal Heenan to stop interrupting, the fan apparently took it as the match being over and awarded in Bockwinkel’s favor. He drew a gun and began firing.

The man got off two shots, hitting three bystanders with one bullet and two more with the other before running out of the arena. (No fatalities were reported.) Security swarmed the scene, getting medical attention for the injured and escorting both Heenan and the wrestlers to the back.

According to Heenan, the shooter was never identified by anyone, and he was brazen enough to continue attending wrestling cards at the arena. ("Chicago really took that 'no snitching' thing to heart back then," according to Uproxx.)

Heenan went on to spend another 30 years in the business getting yelled at and hit with chairs, but was never again forced to dodge a bullet.


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