TOKYO, June 18 - Tweaking the nose of retirement, former Major League
Baseball player Warren Cromartie instead picked a fight with a blood-thirsty
The 53-year-old took part in a professional wrestling bout against
sword-waving pantomime villain Tiger Jeet Singh in Japan on Sunday and not only
survived. He won.
"My stomach was in knots for weeks -- since I agreed to do the thing,"
Cromartie told Reuters. "It was more difficult than I thought it would be.
"I didn't realise what I was getting into. It's totally out of my habitat."
A former Montreal Expos outfielder, Cromartie was also voted Japanese Central
League MVP in 1989 while playing for the Yomiuri Giants.
He entered Saitama Arena for Sunday's tag-team bout decked out in full
baseball uniform with "Samurai Man" emblazoned across his chest and swinging a
When Tiger entered after him, all hell broke loose as the long-time baddie of
pro wrestling suddenly began hurling chairs and slashing at ringside fans with
"When I saw him coming I thought 'Duck!' That was going through my mind,"
dead-panned Cromartie. "I was very respectful of his spear, or whatever you want
to call it."
Cromartie and Ryoji Sai won the bout over Tiger and An Joenosuke after
Cromartie head-butted Tiger, chopped him across the throat and pinned him for a
The theatrics continued when Cromartie conducted 10,000 screaming fans for
three cheers of "Banzai!" -- as he used to in the outfield for the Giants during
his time in Japan.
MEN IN TIGHTS
Cromartie had no qualms about working with men in tights or appearing on the
undercard to a main bout featuring camp Japanese wrestler "Hard Gay."
There was a serious side to Sunday's "Hustle Aid" event with organisers to
donate a large chunk of the ticket revenue to leukemia research.
"I had a friend who died of leukemia and I know what that's all about," said
Cromartie. "It's a worldwide thing and for me to help by wrestling... it's all
about the big picture."
The flamboyant Cromartie acknowledged, however, that he had been drawn to
wrestling by a sense of curiosity and the challenge involved.
"I'm always up for challenges. I get bored," he laughed. "When I got
approached for this I kind of hesitated at first but everybody thought it would
be a good thing for me to do."
Cromartie added: "I feel like George Plimpton, doing something different,
engaging something different and see if I can do it or not."