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50-yr-old Gamer Worn by the AHL's Gordie Howe

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Last month I found myself sinking further into the abyss that is collecting game worn jerseys.

I overpaid but won a gamer worn in the mid-1960s by one of the greatest players and all-time villains in American Hockey League history: Fred Glover of the Cleveland Barons.

I'd entered bids in previous auctions, my target always being an AHL gamer from the 1960s, but I never before won anything. I have always thought the bidding rules of the auction houses are insane for the bidders. And, great for the auction house and those selling items. The deadline, in this case 7 p.m., meant nothing. First bids could be entered after the deadline and all bidding didn't stop until 10 minutes of quiet time (no bidding) after the final bid on the final item. What this means is, the bidding didn't stop until around 5 a.m.

I put in my final, highest, bid around 11:30 p.m. and went to bed. But, I was back on the computer around 3 a.m. to see how things were going, and hoping that someone had topped my bid. I didn't really want to pay an insane four figures for a hockey jersey. I found that my highest bid was now leading, so I went back to bed confident that someone would top me. But, when I checked again around 7 a.m. the bidding was over and yours truly had the highest of 20 bids. And, my wallet suddenly was much, much lighter. The final price was also the highest paid for any of more than 20 minor league gamers up for auction.

I didn't know whether to celebrate or cry. What it meant was I was the owner of a fabulous piece of AHL history. It was in excellent condition with lots of board burns, stick marks, dried blood spots and the LOA that all gameworn collectors love. And, it was autographed by the old AHL villain himself. It also meant the wife and I were not going on vacation this summer and we were eating macaroni and cheese for the foreseeable future. I had dug myself a sizable financial hole that would take some time to get out of.

The auction house, GAMEWORNAUCTIONS.NET touted the 50-year old durene as having been worn by the Gordie Howe of the AHL. The fact is, the hype is probably true. When he retired in 1968 after 20 years in the AHL and six in the original six NHL, Glover was the AHL's all-time leader in games played (1,201), goals (520) assists (814), points (1,334) and PIM (2,402).

So maybe, I didn't overpay, although the price tag was three times more than any other gamer in my collection.

As for Glover, my how I hated the guy when he used to play against my usually undermanned Pittsburgh Hornets from 1961-67.

The Pittsburgh fans used to serenade Cleveland's No. 9 with "Freddie the Freeloader" (a homeless bum character played by a popular TV comedian of the era, Red Skelton).

While nobody should question the talent or toughness of the 5-9, 165-pound Glover, I always thought the targets for his borderline dirty style of play against Pittsburgh were too often a rookie (like Ron Harris, Gary Doak or Pete Mahovlich) or one of the mild-mannered vets (like Jack McIntyre or Ray Ross). When the tough guys were on the ice for Pittsburgh (like Bob McCord, Pete Goegan, Warren Godfrey and Teddy Taylor), Freddie usually behaved like a choirboy.

I have two vivid memories of Glover playing against Pittsburgh.

The first was in 1962-63. The Hornets were the worst team in the league and the Barons were very good. But, Cleveland often brought out the best in the young Hornets. After one rare Saturday night victory by Pittsburgh, during which Fred received more elbows, high sticks and slashes than he gave thanks to the spirited play of his younger brother Howie of the Hornets, the Barons' captain flipped his lid when he heard one last "Freddie thhhhhhhhhhhhe Freeloader" as he left the ice. He raced back up the player's runway and challenged the heckling fan, only to be pulled back into the Barons' dressing room by a young John Ferguson, who threaten to make orphans of the heckler's children. My high school buddy and I were standing next to the heckler, egging him on.

My second Fred Glover memory was at the end of the Hornets' Calder Cup-winning season of 1966-67, in Cleveland. Unlike 1962-63, the 66-67 Hornets were loaded and had pretty much wrapped up the regular season championship before they played this game with their backup goalie, Don Caley, on April 1, 1967.

For the first 35 minutes, Glover, who was 38 and one year from retirement, and two teammates, captain Bill Needham and Larry Ziedel, had been giving Pittsburgh rookie Pete Mahovlich the business when the Hornets' power forward, Ted Taylor, stepped in. Taylor took a run from center ice, hammering Glover into the boards, his elbow in the side of Fred's head. FYI: this was an era when almost nobody wore a helmet.

Glover was tough, but he always seemed to know when to drop the gloves and when to use the stick to get his point across. And, at this point in his career he wasn't interested in dropping the gloves with the 25-year-old Taylor. Instead he charged after Taylor, swinging his stick. Taylor did Glover one better, dropping Glover with one swing of his own stick, hitting Fred on the top of the head. To paraphrase the Holy Bible: Those who live by the sword shall perish by the sword. Fred didn't die, but he was definitely done for the night.

I recall there was a lot of pushing, shoving and swearing (I had a great center ice seat, about a half dozen rows behind the chicken wire) but no fights. None of the four Cleveland defensemen and forwards on the ice with Glover seemed interested in retaliation. After all, this was the last game of the regular season and the Hornets' heavyweights, Pete Goegan and Bob McCord, were on the ice with Taylor.

In today's NHL, Taylor would have gotten a 10-game suspension, minimum. But, in the last year of the Original Six, the attitude in hockey was "boys will be boys."

All Taylor got a match penalty, which resulted in a minimal fine and an early shower. As for the game, Howie Glover, now playing for Cleveland, scored three times in the final period. Barons won 3-2. Duke Harris scored both Pittsburgh goals, according to my program from that night.

Back in those days, the home AHL team wore white. It got me to thinking, perhaps Fred Glover was wearing my jersey during my first visit to the old Cleveland Arena on Euclid nearly 50 years ago. It sounds like a pitch I should consider down the road when the time comes to find a new owner for the latest Holy Grail of my collection.

Pictures of the jersey follow. The Providence Reds jersey is an all-wool classic from the same era. It used to be my prize gamer before the Glover durene found its way into my closet.








Edited by LouMarcon
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A very impressive jersey, and an even greater story.

During any collector's period of acquiring jerseys, there is always at least one jersey that, even if it doesnt specifically fit the collection (aka Glover being on your Hornet's opposing team), you find and if you don't pull the trigger then, may never see it again and brings back great memories!

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I love write-ups like this, Lou, thanks very much for sharing :)

Love the insight into the past, and you certainly tell a good tale.

Can also totally relate to winning an auction, and not quite sure whether I was happy or sad, lol.

Too often I've wanted something, was willing to overpay (and bid accordingly), only to go to bed and hope I'd be outbid by the time I woke up...no such luck; god damnnit, I won :(

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I think we've all been there ... I think at times I'm happier when I'm outbid on something I wish I hadn't bid on, then I am when I win something I actually wanted. :lol:

Edited by akteon
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