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1966-67 Bobby Orr Game Worn Rookie Jersey....

2010 April Signature Sports Memorabilia Auction #717

 
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Auction Ended On: Apr 23, 2010
Item Activity: 16 Internet/mail/phone bidders
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Location: Heritage Auctions
3500 Maple Avenue
Dallas, TX 75219
Description:
1966-67 Bobby Orr Game Worn Rookie Jersey. Barely a teenager when discovered by the Boston Bruins franchise, Orr was destined to wear the presented rookie jersey years before he first set skate blade upon the NHL ice. It seems that each generation delivers to the hockey world a single Chosen One, like Gretzky and Crosby, but the hype surrounding this youngster from Parry Sound, Ontario surpassed anything seen before or since. After leading the Oshawa Generals farm club to the OHA Championship in his third season with the club, Toronto lawyer Alan Eagleson negotiated Orr's first NHL contract with the Bruins, settling on a $25,000 figure which established the eighteen-year old phenom as the highest paid player in League history. The rookie average at the time had been $8,000.

Presented is one of only three jerseys worn by the iconic hockey legend during that historic first season in Boston, and one of only two known to survive to this day. It must be stressed that this incredible gamer remains in 100% original and unaltered condition, establishing it quite convincingly as the finest Orr jersey in the hobby, bar none.

The brilliant play of Orr during his debut season, one for which he was awarded the coveted Calder Memorial Trophy as the League's most outstanding rookie, was a key factor in the jersey's survival. Our consignor is the nephew of Garry Young, the head Bruins scout at the time, and later a coach for the Golden Seals and Blues. While the bulk of the Bruins' jerseys were recycled at the close of the NHL season for farm club use, Young rescued the Cheevers and the Orr, gifting the former to his son and the latter to our consignor. The other known Orr rookie jersey, which can be seen at http://sports.ha.com/common/content.php?content=orr , was reincarnated for use with the Niagara Falls Flyers of the OHA, and bears the farm club's logo crest on the chest, having been stripped of the original Bruins emblem. The third Orr rookie jersey, a gold colored sweater used in approximately sixteen games, is lost to history.

Pegging this extraordinary garment to Orr's rookie season is a simple accomplishment, even without the iron clad Garry Young provenance. Orr wore the round neck style only during his freshman NHL season, as the Bruins would adopt the tie-down collar style for the 1967-68 campaign, which they would continue to feature for the remainder of Orr's tenure. The "Jim McCarthy" manufacturer which had produced Bruins jerseys was likewise abandoned after the 1966-67 season, but the company's label is found at lower rear interior tail, just below the "Wilson [size] 48" tagging.

Extensive photographic research further establishes the jersey's legitimacy beyond any question, as every image of Orr wearing white during his rookie season finds him wearing one of only two jerseys. Interestingly, small differences allow us to differentiate between these two sweaters, most notably the construction of the number "4" on the jersey verso. The offered garment features a less complex bottom layer of yellow tackle twill which does not indent above the base of the "4." The other white gamer does include this minor style difference, which is a match to the aforementioned Niagara Falls reconditioned shirt. You will find no rookie image of Orr (excluding those in which he wears gold) which does not match one of these two jerseys.

Enormous game wear is evident throughout this remarkable jersey with extensive team repairs covering wide expanses upon the sleeves and smaller wounds inflicted to the torso. Over a dozen individual holes are patched, several quite sizable. A constellation of stick marks crisscross the chest and, to a lesser extent, the back, bearing further witness to the brutality of Orr's rough defensive play, a level of back ice dominance which led New York Rangers star Harry Howell, winner of the 1966-67 Norris Trophy as the league's best defenseman, to declare that the award would be his last because "Orr will own this trophy from now on." Orr's streak of eight consecutive Norris Trophies would begin the next year.

The other details of the jersey should be familiar to anyone with even a passing knowledge of hockey history, as we find the Bruins circular emblem, crafted from black, white and yellow tackle twill, affixed to the chest, its position perfectly matching period photography. The uniquely constructed number "4" appears on back, and in smaller format upon each sleeve. It is a number which will never be seen on another Bruins jersey, retired by the franchise in a raucous ceremony in January 1979, just months after his crippled knees made further play impossible.

"Holy Grail" terminology is too often used in the hyperbolic world of auction catalog copywriting, but we make no excuses for its utilization here. Few figures in sports history have had a greater impact upon the fortunes of his franchise than Orr, who served as the main catalyst in rescuing the Bruins from their long residence in hockey's cellar and reestablishing the club as a perpetual playoff threat and eventual Stanley Cup Champion. He remains one of the most beloved sporting icons in a city blessed with iconic names like Williams, Russell and Bird, and figures prominently in any discussion of the greatest hockey player of all time. If the only unaltered Bobby Orr rookie jersey in the world isn't a hockey Holy Grail, then what is? LOA from noted Bruins expert Harvey McKenney. Letter of provenance from consignor. Interested bidders may call to receive fax transmission of letters.

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