The "Miracle" is finalized with a come-from-behind victory over Finland1980 Dave Christian Gold Medal Game Worn USA Olympic Hockey Team Jersey. "If you lose this game, you'll take it to your graves." Coach Brooks spun on his heels, took a few steps, paused, and turned once again to face his team. "To your #%$&ing graves," he repeated. After the most improbable and glorious of victories against what every expert believed was an invincible foe, the Americans sat in the locker room during the second intermission of the Finland game two days later, twenty minutes from seeing the Gold Medal slip from their grasp. Perhaps drained by the exertion and emotion of the greatest underdog victory in American sports history, the US team had come out flat in the finale, and trailed the Finns by a score of two to one in the Gold Medal game.
Energized by Brooks' rousing speech, the scrappy young American squad charged from the gate to start the third, evening the score at two when Phil Verchota took a Dave Christian pass in the left circle and found the back of the net at 2:25. Smelling blood, the young Americans pressed onward, and took the lead three minutes later when Robbie McClanahan accepted a Mark Johnson pass and went five-hole on the Finn goalie for what would prove to be the game-winner. Johnson would finish the American attack and lock up the Gold at three and a half minutes left in regulation with a short-handed score, the last of three unanswered goals in the third and final period.
Thankfully ABC had learned its lesson after the unfortunate decision to broadcast the "Miracle" over Russia on tape delay. Despite the eleven A.M. start time, this final game was delivered to American television sets live, allowing the nation to share in the Gold Medal dream's realization as it happened. Here we present the deep blue mesh jersey captain Mike Eruzione was wearing as he, his teammates and a joyous nation closed the book on the greatest story in American sports history.
The bulk of the garment is constructed of blue mesh, with red and white striping at biceps and hips. "USA" dominates the chest in red and white tackle twill, likewise utilized in the affixing of number "23" to each sleeve and reverse. White tackle twill forms logo stars at each shoulder, and "Christian" across rear nameplate in bold, three-inch block. Interior collar holds "Norcon [size] XL" manufacturer's label. The remnants of a removed tag at lower left exterior perfectly matches a similar oddity on the Eruzione Gold Medal gamer that garnered a $286,800 winning bid in our February 2013 New York Platinum Night event. A nice stick mark on the lowermost white stripe of the jersey front and a board burn on the left sleeve are the most visible signs of game wear, though not the sole examples thereof.
While it is the Russia game that stands tallest in the memories of those old enough to remember February of 1980, that dominant final period in the Finland game runs a close second in the heroic exploits of this Olympic hockey team. And while the white saw the Miracle, this blue saw the Gold. Letter of provenance from Dave Christian. LOA from Heritage Auctions.
The Bill and Dave Christian Collection
It's often said that lightning never strikes twice, but the tale of the Christian family belies that axiom. Both father and son were key figures in two of the most dramatic and glorious underdog tales in the history of American athletics, as members of the United States Olympic Ice Hockey teams of 1960 and 1980. While the latter has become a universally recognized part of our patriotic national folklore under the heading, "The Miracle on Ice," far fewer are aware that the rag-tag band of Davids that slew the Soviet Goliath at Lake Placid was, in point of fact, a sequel to a tale of equivalent improbability and intrigue.
Two decades before son Dave and his 1980 teammates were celebrated as American heroes of Cold War athletics, father Bill Christian, along with his brother Roger, helped the United States claim the top step of the Olympic hockey podium, a climb at Squaw Valley arguably even more arduous than that of the subsequent edition. While both father and son defied the odds to topple the USSR, only the former was required to defeat all four of the top seeds-Canada, Czechoslovakia and Sweden-en route to Gold.
After the success of partnerships between Heritage Auctions and several key figures of the "Miracle" team-Mike Eruzione, Phil Verchota and the family of deceased Hall of Fame coach Herb Brooks among them-the Christians have employed our services to present their own Olympic treasures to the collecting community. Each lot will be accompanied by a letter of provenance from the applicable member of this elite Olympic genetic line.
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