by Adonis Dees
GLENDALE — Dale Torborg stands 6 feet 7 inches, weighs 275 pounds. He carries a baseball bat with him, for intimidation purposes.
Torborg is the strength and conditioning coach for the Chicago White Sox.
He is also known by many as “The Demon.”
Torberg is a former professional wrestler for World Championship Wrestling (WCW). He began his career in the summer of 1999, with an in-ring persona of rockstar Gene Simmons from KISS.
“Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage were the ones who got me started in it,” Torborg said.
He spoke with Hogan on a flight to Los Angeles in 1995 about wrestling and his connection with baseball. Hogan introduced him to Randy “Macho Man” Savage, whose accomplished professional wrestler career was preceded by four years in the minors.
“Randy (Savage) was a former catcher who was a big fan of my dad’s, who was a catcher as well in the big leagues,” Torborg said of his father, Jeff. “So we started talking about it. They said, ‘You’ve got the size, have you ever thought about wrestling?’ And at that point, I never knew anybody that was involved with wrestling at all.”
Dale Torborg also played in the major leagues for the New York Mets and Yankees. He worked with his father when he managed the Montreal Expos, now known as the Washington Nationals. He later worked with the Florida Marlins as a strength and conditioning coach, also with his father.
“The strength coach that was in Montreal ended up taking the head trainer’s job with the Marlins and brought me in as a head strengthening coach of the Marlins,” Torborg said. “Then from that point, I came over here (with the White Sox).”
Torborg brought a bit of the professional wrestling culture to the organization since he joined the team in 2004.
He has custom-made championship wrestling belts with the White Sox logo imprinted on them. He says he uses the belts to award the hardest-working players in the organization.
“A lot of these guys have really enjoyed talking to me about my wrestling past,” Torborg said. “And you know, I’ve got to work with some of the greatest. You get to work with Hulk Hogan, Goldberg and Sting, and Macho Man and Bret the Hitman Hart. These guys love those stories because those are the guys that they grew up on.”
White Sox pitcher Derek Holland wears pro wrestling themed shirts around the clubhouse and attends wrestling events. He recently went to one with teammate Tommy Kahnle, another wrestling fanatic.
They met a special fan there who was part of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. He was a John Cena fan and brought his mini version of a World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) championship belt.
Little did he know Holland had the real deal.
“I was like, you know what, I really want to get him going and get him into it, and my buddy went up, grabbed the (real) belt (and) came back,” Holland said. “We gave it to him and his reaction was something that, you’ve gotta experience it. … He was so proud to have that.”
(Video by Delaney Wood/Cronkite News)
The moment was captured and can be seen on Holland’s Instagram account. The kid held the belt up like he was a champion, because on that night, he surely felt that way.
“He had the same belt as John Cena, and he was letting everybody know,” Holland said.
Third baseman Todd Frazier experienced the feeling of a world wrestling champion after he won the 2015 Home Run Derby. The WWE sent Frazier a “real heavy” custom-made championship belt as a gift.
“I was a big WWF fan growing up,” Frazier said. “The ‘Million Dollar Man’ Ted DiBiase, Roddy Piper, Hulk Hogan, just to name a couple.”
Frazier still has his belt “hidden away somewhere” like a treasure.
The wrestling culture within the White Sox clubhouse contributes to a loose atmosphere among players that is valuable for a young team building chemistry. The Sox have not won more than 80 games in a season since 2012.
“To be honest, it’s brought a lot of these guys closer together,” Holland said.