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February 9, 2014 Leave a comment Go to comments
Richard Sherman and the victorious Seahawks

Richard Sherman and the victorious Seahawks

[Jonathan Ferrey, Getty Images]

I’m a week late on this one, but I shouldn’t let the moment go without comment. A week ago, the Seattle Seahawks were stomping the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl, providing fans from Seattle and Washington State to Oregon, Idaho, Montana, British Columbia, Alberta, Alaska, and who knows where else with the greatest moment in local sports history.

Go Hawks!

It’s more than a little strange that so much civic pride gets invested in events like these. I don’t understand the social psychology of it all. And maybe I shouldn’t try. I should simply enjoy the moment. As great as this team is, such a moment may not recur for many years.

On that I have some experience. It was an odd thing growing up in New York in the ’50s and ’60s. Through the mid-’60s anyway. It’s hard enough in one’s youth to have much perspective. But I don’t know how perspective was possible for any New Yorker of that era. We had dominant teams in baseball and football. Many hit TV shows took place there. (The Dick Van Dyke Show for one. Guy lives in the suburbs, takes the commuter train into Manhattan every day. Like my father. I had no reason to think people lived differently.)

Every year from 1949 to 1964, a New York baseball team participated in the World Series. What? Not 1959? Well, you know, if the Dodgers hadn’t moved to LA two years earlier, there would have been a New York team.

That 1959 World Series is the first one I remember watching on TV, on our new color TV. Well, I saw a snippet of a game in one of the Yankees-Braves series at the neighbor’s a year or two earlier—my first time seeing a color TV—but I didn’t know what event I was watching. I just remember the stunning green field.

In football, the New York Giants played in the championship game in 1956, 1958, 1959, 1961, 1962, and 1963. They lost almost all of those, but they were there.

And then things changed. New York teams became mediocre. The ones I cared about. The Mets showed up on the scene, but they weren’t my team, and by the time they shocked everyone by winning the 1969 World Series, I had just moved to Cambridge. My attention had shifted to basketball. Good thing, since the Knicks won the NBA championships of 1970 and 1973. But I wasn’t in New York then. I was living amid fans of the reviled Celtics.

In hockey, the Rangers had become competitive, but not enough so to win Stanley Cup. The equally reviled Boston Bruins did so in 1970 and 1972. I was there for that. I took no pleasure in their victories, or in Bobby Orr. Over the years, I’ve come to regret how invested I was in the Knicks and Rangers, so much so that I couldn’t appreciate the greatness of the Celtics and Bruins. Only in 1974 did I come around, becoming an all-out Boston sports fan just in time to watch the Celtics win the NBA championship and to suffer the Bruins’s Stanley Cup loss to Philadelphia’s Broad Street Bullies.

By 1975, I was a passionate Red Sox fan. We won the World Series that year, didn’t we? We should have.

The Celtics won again in 1976, highlighted by the classic game-five triple-overtime victory over Phoenix. which I’d remember better if my pal Mike hadn’t called me from Philadelphia in the first overtime. This was at a time when phones were hard-wired to the wall. My phone was in the bedroom of my one-bedroom apartment, the TV in the living room, and the fully stretched out phone cord got me just outside the bedroom door. By leaning around the wall, I could see the TV, but just barely. Mike and I stayed on the phone to the end.

And that’s that. 1976. The last year that one of the championship in one of the four major American men’s team sports was won by a team in a city I lived in. Until a week ago.

Many around here think the Seahawks were robbed by the refs eight years ago in their only other Super Bowl appearance. Maybe. That was a merely good team, not a great one. This year’s Seahawks were great, as everyone around here knew, and as became evident just minutes into the Super Bowl for those not previously paying attention. A very satisfying experience, watching greatness manifest itself.

Categories: Football, Life
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