A crazy hunt for souvenir

September 26, 1996|By Robert A. Erlandson | Robert A. Erlandson,SUN STAFF

With prices skyrocketing for sports memorabilia -- Eddie Murray's 500th home-run ball bringing $500,000, and $1 million asked for a Cal Ripken ball -- professional wrestling fan Steve Zinz felt that he just had to get in on the craze.

In an ad in The Sun yesterday, using the name Mr. Meshugena, he offered 69 cents for an "actual" sixth-grade report card of pro wrestler Gorilla Monsoon.

"I thought about these others; are they publicity stunts? If this guy could spend $500,000, what's 69 cents going to get me?" asked the builder, who lives in Hampden.

By yesterday afternoon a few messages had arrived on his fax machine, all but one asking what it all meant.

"I was hysterical when I saw it. I just cracked up," said Bob Levenson, controller of a Baltimore industrial-equipment company, who sent the first fax. He said he has none of the Gorilla's report cards, but "if I did, I'd hold out for at least 79 cents."

Levenson said the name in the ad, which is Yiddish for "crazy person," tipped him off to the joke.

Zinz said his ad was "a parody on the $500,000 baseball offer. Then came the million-dollar thing for the Ripken ball. It's too much. It's crazy. I had to get it out of my system, and I just wanted to brighten up people's day."

He said his interest in pro wrestling dates to his childhood in Baltimore County.

"It was my bond with my grandfather, Sam Gerber, who ran a grocery in Northeast Baltimore," Zinz said. "Every Thursday night, I'd watch the matches and so would he, and then we'd call back and forth on the telephone about it, sometimes at 10: 30 at night. It's what I'll always remember my grandfather for."

Gorilla Monsoon, a 6-foot-6-inch, 400-pound-plus giant, retired in 1980 after 17 years in the ring and entered the World Wrestling Federation Hall of Fame in Baltimore in June 1994.

Under his real name, Robert Morella, he is president of the Connecticut-based WWF, where an operator said yesterday, "He's not available to take telephone calls."

Pub Date: 9/26/96

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