Leslie Nielsen died in his sleep at 84. The Canadian actor appeared in over 100 films, but most of us remember him from Airplane and The Naked Gun. But do you know how ESPN paid tribute to the actor?
When Leslie Neilson died in 2010, ESPN ran an obituary for his Naked Gun character Enrico Pallazzo.
The Great Enrico Pallazo
Enrico Pallazzo, an acclaimed Italian opera singer who rose to international prominence by foiling an assassination attempt on Queen Elizabeth II while working as a baseball umpire, died at age 84.
Pallazzo was invited to sing the national anthem before a baseball game between the California Angels and the Seattle Mariners in 1988, which Queen Elizabeth II attended. Following the game’s seventh inning, Angels outfielder Reggie Jackson attempted to assassinate the queen while under the influence of hypnotic suggestion.
Pallazzo stopped Jackson by firing a tranquilizer dart from his cuff link, which struck an obese woman in the stands. The woman landed on Jackson, knocking him out and prompting jubilant spectators to yell Pallazzo’s name.
Pallazzo then proposed to his girlfriend, Jane, who said yes instead of shooting him. Shortly after, Arab-Israeli peace talks resumed.
Pallazzo umpired the game after performing an avant-garde rendition of the national anthem. His flamboyant style of calling balls and strikes from behind home plate was characterized by sidestepping, pirouetting, bowing to the crowd, and a Michael Jackson-inspired moonwalk. Pallazzo was remembered by players as being unusually hands-on in his approach, liberal in his stance on illegal ball doctoring, and possessing an uncanny ability to determine strikes before pitched balls reached home plate. This trait contributed to his inimitable eccentric strike zone. (Source: ESPN)
The Umpire Ejecting Umpire
Pallazzo was the first and only umpire in major league history to eject another umpire. He is also thought to be the first and only umpire to use an upright vacuum cleaner to clean up home plate. (Source: ESPN)
Remembering Enrico Pallazzo
Pallazzo, born Dutch-Irish to a Welsh father, began his career as a locksmith and later practiced medicine. Pallazzo declined President George H.W. Bush’s offer of a Cabinet position after discovering that Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev’s famed birthmark was a wine stain.
Friends remember Pallazzo for his love of stuffed beavers and his desire to find good, clean love without using utensils. Pallazzo was romantically snake-bitten: one early relationship ended in a tragic blimp accident, another because of his girlfriend’s musical career. Despite being unable to carry a tune, she spent 300 days a year on the road with the Chicago Male Chorus and Symphony; when Pallazzo bought her a harp as a gift, she asked what it was.
On the other hand, Pallazzo’s relationship with Jane brought him happiness and caused him to notice things he had previously overlooked, such as birds singing and stop lights.
Pallazzo told friends and family gathered by his deathbed to win one for the Zipper, adding that he didn’t know where death would take him but that it wouldn’t smell good if his parachute didn’t open or if he got caught in the gears of a combine. When a relative said that Pallazzo couldn’t be serious, he replied that he was and asked not to be called Shirley. (Source: ESPN)
Image from theartofjoecrouch.blogspot