Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Everyman Athlete

[posted by Callimachus]

As a guy who survived for two years mostly on the meager earnings of a freelance ice hockey writer, I should have noted the death of Gump Worsley. The players, past and present, and the coaches all were very good to me in my NHL days, and I feel a great affection for all of them.

Irish Elk did a superb job of culling the best gems from Gump's obits, and I hereby cull the gems from among his gems:

"He didn't look like an athlete and smoked like a chimney between periods ...."

* * *

... George Plimpton wrote in his book "Open Net" that objects thrown at Worsley during his career included "eggs, beer, soup cans, marbles, an octopus, rotten fish, light bulbs, ink bottles, a dead turkey, a persimmon, a folding chair and a dead rabbit."

* * *

Maybe it was the 1961 Bobby Hull slap shot that ricocheted off Gumper's forehead and broke a seat-back in the second deck of Chicago Stadium.

* * *

While playing with the perennial losing Rangers in the 1950s, Worsley was asked which NHL team scared him the most.

"The Rangers," he responded.

* * *

Maniago towered over the 5-7 Worsley, who made up for his lack of size with his lack of conditioning.

* * *

"One day we're running on the track and I look over and there's Gump. He's got on black wingtip brogues, with knee-high black socks and a pair of shorts, smoking a cigarette, and walking."

[One of the best interviews I did, for a retrospective on the 1970-72 Bruins, was Ace Bailey.]