The year was 1980. Jimmy Carter was president. The nation was in the throes of economic recession, facing gas lines at the fuel pumps, food lines at churches and soup kitchens, and stubbornly rising unemployment.
National morale was low, as 52 Americans still languished in Iran, in the midst of a hostage crisis that would ultimately last 444 days, from November 4, 1979 to January 20, 1981.
The one bright spot of the day: The U.S. Olympic hockey team – the “Miracle on Ice,” as sports announcers termed it – and the shocker win of the century against the Soviets in the 1980 Winter Olympics.
It was a match-up of small note: The American team, a mish-mash of young and inexperienced players, barely out of college, facing off against one of the greatest teams the world had ever seen, from the U.S.S.R.
Nobody dreamed of a U.S. win.
“It was back when the Americans were all amateurs and playing against a professional Soviet team that was supposedly unbeatable. It was the Cold War [and] the Americans were big underdogs,” said Phil Castinetti, owner of Sportsworld in Saugus, Mass., according to an Associated Press report.
The scrappy Yanks shocked the world, and launched the career of a young sportscaster by the name of Al Michaels, who shot to prominence with an emotional refrain as the game clock ticked to zero: “Do you believe in miracles?…Yes!”
Billed thereafter as the “Miracle on Ice,” and memorialized in a Disney movie of the same name, the match-up finished with an American win, 4-3.
U.S. team captain Mike Eruzione put the fourth and final goal into the Soviet net in the last period, with 10 minutes still to go. Two days later, the U.S. beat Finland for the gold.
Now 58, Mr. Eruzione is selling his game sweater emblazoned with the captain’s “C” – No. 21 – his hockey stick and his other Olympic gear, the Associated Press reported.
Heritage Auctions, based in Dallas, will sell the items on Feb. 23 in New York – one day after the 33rd anniversary of the U.S.-U.S.S.R. match-up. The sweater alone should fetch $1 million, sports analysts predict.
“I thought this would be a great little nest egg for [my three kids] and for their future with their kids,” Mr. Eruzione said, according to the Associated Press. Proceeds will also benefit his Winthrop Foundation, a nonprofit for community needs, located just outside Boston.
He’s keeping his gold medal, though.
“As long as I’m alive, the gold medal won’t be sold,” Mr. Eruzione told the AP.
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