I was born in April 1963, so my first recollection as a sports fan goes back to the very late 1960s and early 1970s. Any sports fan in my age group who grew up in the Greater Boston Area will tell you that Bobby Orr was their first sports hero.
The Bruins from the late 1960s to mid-’70s were the most interesting and beloved local sports team of my lifetime. Yes, the Celtics won more. The Patriots and Red Sox of the last 20 years have also won more than those Bruins’ teams. But, they were not as popular as the ‘Big Bad Bruins’. That team was loaded with all-time greats and larger than life characters.
The Bruins had not won a Stanley Cup in nearly 30 years as they entered the 1970 playoffs. The Eastern Division consisted of the ‘Original Six’ teams, while the Western Division was made up of six expansion teams that were in just their third year of existence.
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After being tied at two games apiece, the Bruins beat the Rangers in six games to win their first-round series. Next up was Bobby Hull, Stan Makita, Tony Esposito, and the league’s top regular season team, the Chicago Blackhawks.
The Bruins won games one and two, 6-3 and 4-1 at ancient Chicago Stadium. Boston took a commanding 3-0 series lead with a 5-2 win at the even older Boston Garden on April 23rd. Two days later was my 7th birthday and one of my gifts, certainly my favorite, was two tickets to game four to be played on Sunday, April 26th.
My dad was a big sports fan but he never liked to go to the stadium or park. So my mom, who was also a huge sports fan, took me to the Sunday afternoon game.
Orr and the Bruins rallied to win 5-4 completing a four-game sweep, sending them to their first Stanley Cup Final in 12 years. I was seven years old at that time and seeing my hero and my favorite team win was the best birthday gift a kid could get.
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Bobby Orr Career – Playoffs
After disposing of the powerful Blackhawks, the Bruins then swept the overmatched St. Louis Blues. The series-clinching game came on Mother’s Day. The winning goal the famous overtime score by Bobby Orr. Veteran photographer Ray Lussier immortalized the moment with the most famous photo in Boston sports history.
This Sunday, Mother’s Day marks the 50th anniversary of that landmark occasion.
As we await the reopening of sports, looking back is a splendid tonic to get through the pain of the coronavirus. Happy Mother’s Day to all the great moms.
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