Recently I went on a book buying spree. I am by nature a reader. My idea of heaven is just sitting in a bookstore. I’m not trying to do some intellectual flex here. I just love how books let you enter in worlds that are unfamiliar and take you out of your every day life.
The pandemic stopped me from reading. Something about it just made it impossible to concentrate on whatever I was reading, so I just stopped reading for a while. I mean not that I completely gave up reading. I read the Globe, the New York Times and The Washington Post every day. Again, not a flex. I just like to read.
So I went on this book buying spree and realized sorta just coincidentally I had bought four books about people or things related to Massachusetts or Boston. I got two books about Henry Adams, grandson and great grandson of presidents and the author of sardonic little tome called “The Education of Henry Adams.” I also bought a book by William Bulger, the former president of the Massachusetts state senate and brother to James “Whitey” Bulger. The last book I bought though, is where the blog entry title comes from and where we’ll kinda go from here on out. It’s called “The Game” and it’s about the famous game between Harvard and Yale in 1968 where the teams tie with 42 seconds left. There’s also an excellent documentary about it that I will make extensive references to in the following paragraphs.
On Friday night, I went to a Boston University hockey game. A very good friend, almost like family, was in town with his family and his tiny little daughter and they wanted to go to a sports event. Tickets to games at TD Garden cost the equivalent of a car payment now so I used my university connections, if I even have any, to get us tickets to the game. Being an honored employee of the university I got us extremely good seats, right behind the goal. And wow, it was extremely action packed game. And a great time overall.
As soon as the game started, BU was already down by two goals against the Providence College Friars. Because it was so easy to get the tickets, I figured the place would be deserted but it was the opposite. The cheering was the loudest I have ever heard and it included a full on university marching band, which played every single time they scored a goal and considering that each side seemed to score a goal every five seconds, we heard that band a lot. A LOT.
I’m kinda corny and sentimental and I sat there and thought about all that it had taken for me to get to that moment. In the Harvard Beats Yale 29-29 movie, one of the football players says that playing for that team in 1968 was like having the quintessential college experience, with the pep rallies and the cheering. I mean as a kid I bought this, that this is how my college experience was going to be, and it absolutely was not. I didn’t go to the college I wanted to go to and kinda sank into a depression about that for many years afterwards. I wanted to go to BU, but well, for that I’d have to wait.
My friend Arturo, who has the self control of a puppy, was telling everyone that I worked at the university, which of course I do. And for me, I was proud for those seconds realizing this. I had not had the quintessential college experience. I had in my mind had a very mediocre college experience at a place I had no interest in attending. But here I was at this hockey game that was so much fun having that experience finally. Except this time as an employee, a teacher at the university.
I’m a sports fanatic too, which I don’t really wave a flag about. I always say that people who come to my house would be shocked by the amount of ESPN I watch. As I’ve written about before on this blog, my FAVORITE documentary series is called 30 for 30. Some of those documentaries I can quote from memory. The Patrick Ewing-Reggie Miller rivalry with Spike Lee kinda thrown in there, the Winning Time documentary, that is imprinted somewhere on my soul. My other favorite is one about the St Louis Spirits ABA basketball team, featuring Marvin “Bad News” Barnes, where the legend looks into the camera and says — I played great, as usual.
Lately though, I’ve been into this slightly more introspective, quiet documentary called “Of Miracles and Men,” which is the story of the hockey victory of the United States against the Soviet Union told from the other side, speaking to the Soviet players who lost the game. And some of them let me say have not quite processed that loss, even some 40 plus years since it happened. At one point, the filmmaker asks the Soviet team captain if he had seen the movie “Miracle” about the victory. This very gruff looking, very serious former Soviet hockey player looks into the camera and says — why would I watch that????? I’m going to watch a good movie, not some movie about how we lost. On Friday night, I looked up at the rafters in Agganis Arena and there’s a banner up there featuring the names of the four Boston University hockey players that played in that game, including Mike Eruzione, who actually scored the winning goal in that game, the team that went on to win an Olympic gold medal. I had already been born when that game took place, but yeah, we were behind the Iron Curtain when it took place and I guess by default would have been cheering for the Soviet Union, as you know, a three year old. I mean even then I knew one day I’d be sitting under a banner featuring the names of the players from that game, watching a game take place at the university they all came from. Yes. I knew this. (of course not)
That’s kinda what I love about all of this. Sports is nothing more than stories about people and human stories. Loss, redemption. All the things that make us human.
OK, yes, finally here are some photos of the Boston University Terriers having the time of their life on Friday night. Every time they scored a goal, I would yell out — Ecstasy reigns on the Boston University side!!!! And oh did ecstasy reign many times on Friday night: