When Blackie Lawless was Drafted by the Detroit Tigers’ Farm Team
Before he founded the band W.A.S.P., Blackie Lawless considered a career in professional baseball. His fastball was good enough to get him drafted by the Tigs.
Spoiler alert: Blackie Lawless is not his real name. The MTV metal star, sawblade codpiece-wearing, B.C. Rich bass-playing, PMRC-triggering rocker came into this world on September 4, 1956 as Steven Edward Duren. His uncle Ryne Duren was a major league baseball player, with a ten-year career on the mound playing for the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Angels, Baltimore Orioles, Kansas City Athletics, Philadelphia Phillies, Cincinnati Reds and Washington Senators. Duren was famous for his coke-bottle glasses and a blazing fastball.
I would not admire hitting against Ryne Duren, because if he ever hit you in the head you might be in the past tense.
-Casey Stengel, New York Yankees Manager
Uncle Ryne must have showed him a few things, because young Steven developed some heat and got noticed.
Did Blackie ever tell you about his sports days? He told me his real name was Steve Duren, and when he was younger he had actually gotten drafted for the farm team of the Tigers. And he goes, 'Yeah, I was a helluva baseball player. I had a ninety-mile-an-hour fastball in high school,' something like that. He was telling me the story of how he got drafted but then he got the offer to be in the New York Dolls, what became the final version of them, and he took that instead.
-Rock Photographer Don Adkins, quoted in Nothin' but a Good Time" The Uncensored History of the '80s Hard Rock Explosion
I couldn't find his name on the roster of the 1974 or 1975 Bristol Tigers, Clinton Pilots, Lakeland Tigers, Montgomery Rebels or Evansville Triplets, but that doesn't mean the story isn't true. Steve Ryne hung up his glove and picked up his guitar when he was invited to join the New York Dolls lineup after Johnny Thunders quit in the middle of their 1975 tour. The Dolls broke up when it was over, but Ryne soon caught a bus to LA with a bottle of hair dye and a dream, and found that terrorizing politicians' wives in the PMRC was as much fun as brushing batters back from the plate with a 90 mph fastball.