Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Wally Dusek Baseball Passes

"Take me out to the ball game,
Take me out with the crowd.
Buy me some peanuts and crackerjack,
I don't care if I never get back..."

A recent minor league baseball memorabilia auction on Ebay featured a loose wrestling connection with Jim Crockett Promotions.

The auction (listed by Christianne and Mike at Funkijunk)  was for two vintage season passes to the Charlotte minor league baseball team, one for the Charlotte Hornets in 1969 and one to the Crockett-owned Charlotte O's in 1976.

The passes belonged to the late Wally Dusek, the former longtime Crockett lieutenant who played a vital role in the organization in the 1960s through the early 1980s. Dusek was also the longtime timekeeper and occasional ring announcer at the Greensboro Coliseum.

Both passes are signed by Dusek, and the 1976 pass, which was the first year the Crockett family owned the team, was signed by David Crockett.

Here is an edited transcript of the original listing as it appeared on Ebay:

You are bidding on a collection of items that encompasses two interesting storylines in the history of Charlotte, North Carolina...Minor League Baseball and Professional Wrestling. This little wallet includes passes and schedules from a couple of old Charlotte baseball teams, and a few interesting signatures to boot.

It is from the estate (living) of Frank Santen, a.k.a. Frank Dusek of professional wrestling's famed Dusek family. These items belonged to his father, Charles Santen, a.k.a. Wally Dusek, who was introduced as a "Dusek cousin" to the professional wrestling family in the 1930s.

Wrestler Wally Dusek had in this wallet a complimentary pass to see the 1969 Charlotte Hornets baseball club. He also toted around a 1968 Hornets schedule. The pass is signed by the club president, and when you flip it on the back, it is also signed by Wally Dusek! Okay, we know that his name was actually Charles Santen, but if you have been "Wally Dusek" for over thirty years, you sign "Wally Dusek". Also, Wally Dusek is the sort of guy that gets complimentary season passes, where regular old Charles Santen may not.

In 1976, Jim Crockett, Jr., famed professional wrestling promoter bought the Asheville Orioles affiliate AA baseball team and moved them to Charlotte. The baseball team that had been known as the Hornets for decades was now replaced by the Charlotte O's. A year later, the tiny Griffith Park that had been in the Dilworth neighborhood since 1941, would be known as Crockett Park.

Wally Dusek also carried in this wallet a 1976 schedule and season pass to see the Charlotte O's. The schedule still calls the venue "Clark Griffith Park". The season pass is made out to Wally Dusek and is signed by David F. Crockett!

David Crockett, besides being a General Manager for the first season of the Charlotte O's, was also a professional wrestling announcer for his brother Jim Crockett Jr.'s National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) show. He worked in tandem with Tony Schiavone to provide commentary for the matches. David Crockett would later become a promoter for WCW wrestling and Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling. He was the recipient of a Nikita Koloff clothesline that would incite a feud between the "Russian" and Ric Flair.

The information on David Crockett in the last paragraph is a bit unfocused. Crockett was, of course, much more than simply an announcer for his brother's company. The company actually belonged to all four of the Crockett siblings (Frances, Jim Jr., David, and Jackie), all of them with varying degrees of responsibility and title. The oldest of the three brothers, Jimmy Crockett, was indeed the president and the person in charge.

As it regards announcing, David was indeed a television announcer on top of his other responsibilities for the wrestling shows from 1974 until the company was sold to Ted Turner in 1988. But long before he was joined by Tony Schiavone on "World Wide Wrestling" in 1984, Crockett was co-host of "Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling" with the legendary longtime voice of JCP wrestling Bob Caudle.  The two were a team for over 8 years (1974-1982).

David was Vice President of Jim Crockett Promotions, and was an executive involved in television production for Ted Turner's World Championship Wrestling (WCW) from 1989 until it was sold to the WWE in 2001.

This was/is a very cool auction with connections to two important people within the Crockett wrestling and baseball organizations.

Info on Ebay about the sellers:
Hello! We are Christianne & Mike, full time antiques dealers for the past 24 years. Concord, North Carolina is our home. We sell at local antique shows & at the Depot at Gibson Mill. Follow Funkijunk on Instagram & Facebook. Telephone 704-578-0531