The dream call for any curator is one in which a donor not only offers a priceless artifact but also shares a wonderful story. Such was the case twenty years ago when a north shore woman called to offer the donation of the net in which Bobby Orr scored the most famous goal in Bruins and possibly hockey history.
Contacting me on behalf of her husband, a local bank executive, she told me how he and a friend had capped their game day celebration by driving to the Boston Garden on that blisteringly hot Sunday afternoon in 1970. Parking behind the arena they clambered up the fire escape, and soon blended in with the Bull Gang. Having spied the precious net at the west end of the rink they made their move and boldly walked down the old elephant ramp exit with their prize. After carefully placing it in their Karman Ghia convertible they clung for dear life on the ride home to Peabody.
Reaching for my detective’s cap after they delivered the prize to the museum that evening my instincts told me it was the real McCoy for the following reasons:
- The couple wanted nothing for their donation. Not Bruins or museum tickets, nor a signature from Bobby. Nothing. They simply wanted to do the right thing.
- The frame had not a shred of the nylon netting that had been cut with scissors and knives by the mob of souvenir hunters that descended on the ice following the goal.
- The frame was the distinctive NHL Art Ross bow back configuration that was re-designed several years following Orr’s famous goal.
An artifact and a tale for the ages.
Only in Boston.