MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The “Miracle on Ice” was a triumph years in the making under the careful, demanding and creative guidance of coach Herb Brooks.
Some of the documents that were part of the improbable U.S. victory over the Soviet Union during the 1980 Winter Olympics are now for sale, along with a bunch of other belongings of the late hockey great.READ MORE: Minnesota Weather: 80-Degree High Expected Monday; Summery And Damp Week Ahead
From the whistle he used to push players in practice to the 10-karat ring he received for Team USA’s gold medal, close to 40 lots of Herb Brooks memorabilia will be auctioned off this weekend on the 35th anniversary of the semifinal victory over the Soviets that’s widely considered the biggest upset in sports history.
“Between me and my sister and my mom, having to store this stuff and track it down and babysit it was kind of a pain, quite frankly,” said Dan Brooks, the son of Herb Brooks. “We decided this might be a good time to see if anyone has an interest in the stuff to just simplify our lives.”
The proceeds will go toward college for the Hall of Fame coach’s now-teenage grandchildren as well as to the Herb Brooks Foundation, created after his death in 2003 to increase youth opportunity in the sport, particularly in the inner cities.
The gold medal isn’t for sale, but there are many other “Miracle” mementoes available in the collection, estimated by Heritage Auctions to be worth at least $200,000. The big-ticket item is the ring, valued at $50,000. There will be a live auction in New York on Saturday night, with some of the items being sold online on Sunday night. Online bidding has already begun.
Who knows? Maybe there will be some interested Russian buyers this weekend.
“Hopefully it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands,” Chris Ivy, the director of sports auctions for Heritage, said with a laugh.
The items include Brooks’ 1974 and 1976 NCAA championship rings from his time as coach at the University of Minnesota, the jersey he wore as a player for Team USA on the 1968 Olympic team and even the gaudy shearling jacket he rustically donned with the rest of the Americans for the 1980 opening ceremony with their cowboy hats and blue jeans.
The most unique pieces of Brooks’ belongings, though, are his hand-written notes and typed letters related to the “Miracle” team that not only provide an old-fashioned snapshot of the pre-internet days but a window into the no-frills personality of the revered and sometimes-feared coach:
— A bound book with a complete set of box scores from the games in the 1980 Olympic tournament.READ MORE: Minnesota National Guard Mourns Master Sgt. David Greiner, Killed In I-35 Head-On Crash
— A blue ring binder with questionnaires filled out by prospective players, including eventual star Mike Eruzione’s self-described best assets: “Two way player and penalty killer.”
— The letter Brooks wrote to the U.S. Olympic Committee declaring his candidacy for the coaching position, spelling out a detailed plan for on-ice strategy, player selection and program development in accompanying pages.
— Rosters from college conference all-star teams, names of players in amateur leagues and the 1978 NHL draft list, with some prospects crossed out in black marker.
— His script notes for the screenwriters of the 2004 “Miracle” movie are for sale, too, showing some suggested adjustments to the dialogue to more closely represent his hard-nosed style.
Then there’s his 1980 day planner, noting the visit to the White House in Washington on Feb. 25, an appearance on Johnny Carson’s show in Los Angeles on Feb. 27 and his St. Paul Johnson High School 25th reunion on Aug. 15.
As for the upset of the Soviets at Lake Placid, for the entry on Feb. 22 he simply wrote:
“Game vs. Russians. W 4-3!”
The connection between the Brooks family and Heritage officials was made through Eruzione, who was in the audience two years ago when some of his Olympic memorabilia was auctioned off. He watched bewildered when the first item on the block, his stick, sold for over $260,000.
Initially resistant to the idea, Eruzione relented once he realized much of his gear had become mere attic filler in his Massachusetts home. The stuff fetched more than $1.3 million. Already financially sound, Eruzione divided the profit among his three children and donated to charities and schools he attended.
“The memory for me is winning the tournament,” Eruzione said, “not the jerseys or the sticks or the elbow pads or the shin pads. My memories are Mark Johnson, Jimmy Craig, Kenny Morrow, Davey Christian and each guy on my team. There’s not a price tag on those memories.”MORE NEWS: Sheriff: Inmate Jesse James Crabtree 'Walked Away' From NERCC
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