Bobby Orr and me. An incomplete story.
50 years ago I – seen here, green striped shirt – got Bobby Orr to autograph his O-Pee-Chee hockey card.
49 years ago I misplaced the card. Somehow.
Just bought a replacement off of eBay. Now, to find Bobby and get it re-autographed. Also need to find a green striped shirt.
so how’d that happen?
Someone told me in grade 7 that if you bought an entire carton of hockey cards, you’d get one of everything. I saved up $10, and bought the carton at the variety store. Richard and Kevin and I then opened them all up, and ate all the gum. And yes you do get one of each.
the gum, you’ll remember, tastes basically the same as the cards.
In the early 1970s, the Boston Bruins would hold their annual training camp in my home town of London, and in 1971 they were all playing at a golf tournament at the Highland Golf Club.
Back then, students in London got a half day off to visit the cows at the Western Fair. So… Richard and Kevin and I hatched a plan. We’d blow off the entire day of Grade 8 and take all our hockey cards – our complete set, wait, MY complete set, out and see if we could get any of them signed. Or maybe we could be caddies. We didn’t know how anything worked.
We got out there and somehow positioned ourselves at the 18th green, and all the Bruins eventually came by, and were mobbed by a small handful of 12 year olds. Esposito. Orr. Cashman. Cheevers. Sanderson. The defending Stanley Cup champs.
I had my cards ready. And a pen, I think. Really planning ahead there. Oh, and my camera, the same Kodak Instamatic 126 that took that Apollo XI picture that I won’t shut up about.
Like for instance here’s me and Derek Sanderson. Thanks Richard or Kevin or whoever took this.
look! it’s bobby orr! and phil esposito!
And the final foursome comes over. Bobby Orr. Phil Esposito. Wow. What are they doing here in my town?
here I am apparently ignoring Phil Esposito.
So – those trees in the background? One of them was an apple tree. Phil Esposito goes over to the apple tree to pick up a post-golf snack. Picks a couple of apples.
Phil Esposito hands one of these apples to Bobby Orr, who is in the middle of autographing my hockey card, as seen here in this not exactly perfectly composed photo.
Bobby Orr, the greatest hockey player of all time, then
• takes a bite out of the apple
• doesn’t like it
• turns to me
• hands me the apple core and says
• “Here, kid, would you throw this out for me?”
huuuuuh yes sir oooooh yes i will huuuuh
No, I didn’t keep the apple. I should have. Imagine what it’d be worth on eBay now. But I threw it out, because when Bobby Orr asks you to do something, you do it, no questions asked.
(Let me add that about 20 years ago I was in Tampa for work, and actually ran in to Phil Esposito at the airport, and told him this story about the apple, and he couldn’t have been less interested in it, which is something you and he probably have in common)
So anyways I got my hockey cards autographed by all the greats. And carefully set them aside, in the torn remains of the original carton from the variety store.
so what happened to the autographed cards?
ok I might not have ‘carefully’ stored them away.
I heard of a sports memorabilia store with a sign behind the counter saying “We charge $50 to listen to the story of how your parents threw them all away.”
i am not blaming anybody
i could have stored them better
i could have been more clear about what exactly was in the box
I still have most of that set. Somehow I set the Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins autographed ones aside, intending, I’m sure, to store or display them properly.
I still have the Sheldon Kannegiesser card for instance, sadly, unautographed.
anyway it’s been bugging me for almost 50 years. In a sort of circle-of-life moment, one of the things I demo at work these days is an Augmented Reality app I wrote where I can point the camera at a hockey card, and it overlays some statistics on top. That’s kind of cool.
so … this week, I spent significantly more than that entire set cost me, just to get one slightly used 1971-72 O-Pee-Chee Bobby Orr card, as seen here. Now I just need to track down Bobby and the circle will be complete.
I hope he remembers the part about the apple.
Update: Bobby’s team replies that he will happily autograph this card for US$100.
I don’t remember autographs costing quite that much back in 1971.