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Trending that caught Doug's eye... manly meltdowns

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There are times when men are allowed to burst into tears.

For instance, guys are allowed to weep openly during the heart-wrenching conclusion of the movie Old Yeller.

Crying is also allowed during the film Brian's Song when Gale Sayers (as portrayed by Billy Dee Williams) informs the Chicago Bears that Brian Piccolo (as played by James Caan) may never play football again.

Arguably the most accepted moment for the shedding of manly tears is when a star athlete realizes it's time to walk away from the game he has loved.

For New York Yankees star Mariano Rivera, baseball's most acclaimed relief pitcher, that moment came late last month in the ninth inning of a 4-0 loss to Tampa Bay.

Escorted off the mound in his final appearance at Yankee Stadium by teammates Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte, the emotion proved too much for Rivera, who put his head on Pettitte's shoulder and sobbed.

"I was bombarded with emotions and feelings that I couldn't describe," Rivera gushed after the game. "Everything hit at that time. I knew that was the last time."

Sniffed Pettitte: "He broke down and just gave me a bear hug and I just bear-hugged him back. He was really crying. He was weeping. I could feel him crying on me."

As manly meltdowns go, Rivera's was among the best, matching up well with five of our favourite all-time man cries:

111THE CRIER: Iron Eyes Cody

WHY SO SAD: Everyone of a certain age remembers the iconic 1971 "Keep America Beautiful" public service TV ad wherein a callous motorist flings a bag of trash that lands at the feet of a stoic native American. As the camera zooms in, a single tear rolls down the Indian's careworn cheek and the announcer, famed pudgy actor William Conrad, intones: "People start pollution; people can stop it!" Even younger viewers have seen the ad parodied on The Simpsons. The thing is (gasp!) Iron Eyes Cody was actually an American actor who impersonated native Americans in Hollywood films. He was, in fact, a second-generation Italian named Espera Oscar de Corti. The iconic tear? It was glycerin. But, hey, we get choked up whenever we think about it, so it's on the list.

1111THE CRIER: New York Yankees legend Lou Gehrig

WHY SO SAD: In the movie A League of Their Own, Tom Hanks snorts: "There's no crying in baseball!" Well, Tom was dead wrong. As in Mariano Rivera's case, some of the manliest tears have come from Yankee greats. After being diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), the crippling disease that now bears his name, Gehrig addressed the crowd in one of the most emotional farewells ever, saying: "Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about the bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth." To thunderous applause, the legendary slugger wiped tears away as Babe Ruth hugged him and the crowd roared: "We love you, Lou!"

1111THE CRIER: TV funnyman Jon Stewart

WHY SO SAD: When he returned to host The Daily Show after the horrific events of 9/11, Stewart tried his best to keep it light, but delivered his most human, moving show ever. "I'm sorry to do this to you," he sniffed, fighting tears. "It's another entertainment show beginning with an overwrought speech of a shaken host... It's something, unfortunately, we do for ourselves so that we can drain whatever abscess is in our hearts and move on to the business of making you laugh." Declared the website The Art of Manliness: "Few such commentaries came off as authentic and heartfelt."

11111THE CRIER: Late CBS anchorman Walter Cronkite

WHY SO SAD: Considered "the most trusted man in America," the famously unflappable anchor was the voice of authority in the heyday of TV news. If Cronkite said it, it had to be true. Known for his composure, he revealed his tender side on the day he interrupted the soap opera As The World Turns to break the news that President John F. Kennedy had been shot. When Cronkite later confirmed Kennedy's death, he fought valiantly onscreen to control his emotions. Decades later, he was quoted as saying: "I choked up, I really had a little trouble... my eyes got a little wet... Fortunately, I grabbed hold before I was actually (crying)."

Also worth crying over: They don't make them like Cronkite anymore.

111THE CRIER: The Great One

WHY SO SAD: If you are a Canadian, you remember where you were 25 years ago on the fateful day Wayne Gretzky was traded from the Edmonton Oilers to the Los Angeles Kings. It came 12 weeks after the Oilers closed out a four-game sweep of the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup Final. Worse, it was a sucker punch to the hearts of patriotic Canadian hockey fans. The greatest hockey player ever was famously unable to hold back a flood of tears at the news conference announcing what is now known simply as "The Trade." One weepy moment stands out for us. "I promised Mess (Mark Messier) I wouldn't do this, but the time comes when... " a tearful Gretzky sniffed before, overcome by emotion, he stopped speaking altogether. For the rest of us, that's when the real crying began.

doug.speirs@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 5, 2013 D2

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