William Donald Schaefer, the former Maryland governor and Baltimore mayor, was many things to many people during his 50 years in public office.
To pro wrestling fans, he simply was one of us.
Schaefer, who died last week at 89 and was buried today, was never one to put on airs, so his love of pro wrestling certainly wasn’t something that he was embarrassed about.During the first of Schaefer’s two terms as governor in July 1989, the now-defunct Baltimore Evening Sun ran a front-page story (see the clip below) about him sitting in the front row at a WWF show at the Baltimore Arena. The headline was: “Hulk Hogan is my hero: Governor loves his wrestling.”
The article noted that “the governor stayed in his seat most of the evening, but when things got crazy in the ring, Schaefer stood up to record the action with a small instamatic camera.”
Schaefer acknowledged in the story that Hogan – who was defending the WWF title against Randy “Macho Man” Savage that night – was his favorite wrestler.
A few months earlier, Schaefer had met Hogan when he attended WrestleMania V in Atlantic City, N.J., as a guest of Donald Trump.
“Oh my God – the greatest day of my life,” said Schaefer, who sat in the front row next to Trump at that show. “Hulk Hogan is my hero. He’s great.”
Schaefer’s admiration of Hogan didn’t wane when “The Hulkster” defected to WCW – WWE’s rival – several years later. That created a memorably awkward moment when Schaefer was interviewed on the WWF’s 1994 King of the Ring pay-per-view, which was held in Baltimore.
When asked who his favorite wrestler was, Schaefer – who was known for speaking his mind rather than giving canned, politically correct responses – replied: “I’ve always been a big Hulk Hogan fan.”
Interviewer Todd Pettingill immediately cut off Schaefer and moved on. Later on the show, Jerry Lawler – who was wrestling Roddy Piper in the main event – referred to Schaefer as “Governor Budweiser.”
Thanks to Baltimore sun researcher Paul McCardell