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Fans turn out to see pro wrestler

March 12, 2007|by KAREN HANNA

HAGERSTOWN - A dirty sock was his hero's signature career move, but on Sunday, a professional wrestling fan at Borders walked away with his hero's John Hancock on a toothbrush.

"I was too ecstatic. I didn't have any sleep last night, seriously. I was actually dreaming about talking to him, and it came true," said Eric Hutchison, who arrived at Borders at about 5 a.m. to meet professional wrestler Mick Foley.

Pro wrestling met literature as hundreds of fans lined the aisles of Borders to see Foley - aka Dude Love, Jack Cactus and Mankind - sign books.

A star of the broken-chair, cage-battling wrestling world, Foley - who wore a red and black lumberjack shirt - looked capable of tossing CD bins and smashing book shelves.

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For Foley, who has written eight books, including "The Hardcore Diaries," which he was signing Sunday, "physicality, creativity and emotion," are the language of the ring. All but physicality are important in writing, as well.

"The pursuits are similar in that when I'm writing, I'm envisioning the response my writing will elicit from readers," Foley said.

In the ring, a wrestler quickly discovers how their audience feels. Writers must wait a little longer, Foley said, but he expressed gratification for the turnout at Borders.

"I'm very flattered because it doesn't matter how many successful book signings I've been involved in, every time I drive into a town, I'm convinced this will be the time nobody shows up," Foley said.

Some fans said watching wrestling has been a lifelong pursuit.

"Watching 'em beat each other up, watching the woman nowadays wrestle" are the reason Lisa Craig, of Shippensburg, Pa., said she remains a fan.

"That's what I watch for. I started to watch to see if anybody got hurt really," said Bill Shubert, 18, of Hagerstown, who stood at the back of the line with his 11-year-old brother, Tyler.

Fans carrying wrestling belts and miniature wrestling rings snaked around the store, but Mickey Monahan admitted that she did not know what was behind all the fuss.

Monahan sat on the floor in the travel section and flipped through a book about the Caribbean. Inside her purse, a Yorkshire terrier-shih tzu mix named Lilly snoozed.

A wrestling neophyte, Monahan said she was glad wrestling had stirred children to read.

"It's nice that so many people turned out, and they brought their children out, and they're buying books, and even though it's just a wrestling book, at least they're reading. That can't be a bad thing, can it?" Monahan said.

Book in hand, Craig's husband, Chad Craig, said he respects professional wrestlers for supporting troops overseas. Foley went to Afghanistan, said Craig, who served in the Marines.

Craig's son, Colby, 13, and his friend said they both enjoy wrestling.

"We pretty much tag team other people," said Colby, who stages matches with his friend, Jeff Garlitz, 13, of Shippensburg, Pa.

As long as no one gets hurt, Chad Craig said he does not mind.

"It's when he came home with a bat wrapped in barbed wire, that's when I had to put a stop to it," Craig said.

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