Description1980 Phil Verchota "The Miracle on Ice" Game Worn USA Olympic Hockey Jersey. "It was the longest ten minutes of my life," captain Mike Eruzione said of the time remaining in the third period of a hockey game which would come to be considered the high water mark of American athletics. He had just netted the go-ahead goal against a heavily-favored Soviet side from thirty feet out, and the crowd at Lake Placid Field House was pure pandemonium. "Five minutes after I scored, I looked up at the clock and it said 9:59."
Like a wounded animal, the Soviets were now more dangerous than ever, pressing even harder into the teeth of the American defense, but the line held solid. "Guys were making plays," Eruzione said. "Dave Silk would block a shot. Phil Verchota would block a shot."
Though Verchota, a veteran of coach Herb Brooks' 1976 and 1979 University of Minnesota Gophers National Championship squad and the Minnesota Stars' fifth round pick in the 1976 NHL Amateur draft, was one of the nation's premier goal scorers, his smothering defense in those tense closing minutes of "The Miracle on Ice" was crucial in completing the greatest underdog triumph in Olympic history. As the seconds ticked toward triple zeroes, sportscaster Al Michaels picked up the count in his famous call:
"Eleven seconds, you've got ten seconds, the countdown going on right now! Morrow, up to Silk. Five seconds left in the game. Do you believe in miracles?! YES!
It was exactly a year ago, at our February 2013 Platinum Night auction, that the sports collectibles hobby got a miracle of its own in the form of The Mike Eruzione Collection, a grouping that included the jersey worn by the team captain as he netted the game-winning goal against the seemingly invincible Soviet side. That jersey set bidder paddles fluttering to the tune of $657,250, by far the highest price ever paid for an Olympic uniform article. We are pleased and honored by the opportunity to present yet another key relic from the most significant contest in American sports history, worn by star forward Phil Verchota during the fabled "Miracle on Ice."
The jersey bears the manufacturer's label of "Norcon," a sporting goods company headquartered in Forest Lake, Minnesota, about thirty miles from the University of Minnesota where Herb Brooks coached Verchota and eight other members of the U.S. team. The size "XL" garment is crafted primarily from white mesh with blue shoulders and red and blue striping at elbows and waist. Blue and red tackle twill form the bold "USA" lettering in six-inch block on the chest, and the number "27" that appears at each shoulder and reverse. White stars adorn each shoulder. A white tackle twill "Verchota" stands in three-inch block on the distinctive blue tackle twill nameplate across the back. A scattering of stick and board burns adorn the sleeves, and minor dye transfer set loose from the pouring sweat of exertion and anxiety tone a few letters of Verchota's surname.
The appearance of two Miracle jerseys in a twelve-month period must not mislead any collector into believing that another will surface any time soon, as all available examples could still be counted on a single hand. It is a piece that matches the intrigue and importance of any artifact on display in the Hall of Fame or the Smithsonian Museum, and a reminder that, with hard work and determination, anything is possible. Even a miracle. Letter of provenance from Phil Verchota.
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