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The Boston Garden (oh how I miss you)


Let’s get this out of the way. I love the city of Boston, I love the sounds, smells, activity, history, architecture and people. And I think that Boston has always felt the same way about me. In the early 90’s I drove with a buddy to Boston in my 1986 Champaign coloured Saab 900s (my first car). We were looking for Fenway Park to see the Red Sox play the Indians. I was lost. No GPS at the time and no street allowed me to make a left turn to cross the river, so I did what is perfectly legal in most of Canada. I made a u-turn. 

And then I saw the sirens. A policeman pulled me over. “Where are going ?” Fenway Park to watch the Sox, I replied, “Who’s pitching?” Roger Clemens, I told him. He went to his car and came back with a piece of paper and handed it to me. “No more u-turns” he said. He walked back to his car and drove away. I looked at the paper. He had written directions to Fenway! “I love this city”, I told my buddy. 

Fenway was amazing. I had my first steak tip sandwich from a street vendor then got a bag of freshly roasted peanuts. Heaven. The ballpark was only about half full as Clemens pitched a complete game, one- hit shutout.  

For every baseball fan, Fenway Park is still around. You can picture Tris Speaker roaming center field or Ted Williams hitting a home run around the right field foul pole. You can actually smell history. 

And now for my first trip to the Boston Gardens. Sunday, January 15th, 1995. We drove along the double decker highway with the Garden to the right of us. I missed the exit  (didn’t realize I needed to be on the lower deck where all the traffic was). We finally made it back and found a spot on the street next to a surplus store. I bought a winter coat there that I finally gave away to good will a couple of years ago. 

We found what I thought was the worlds greatest sports bar “The Fours” and watched the Cowboys get obliterated by the 49ers in the NFC Championship game. (I never would have found this place had I not missed the exit). My friend and I couldn’t get seats together so sat 4 rows apart and took turns as to who would sit behind the pole.  The game was amazing  Dominique Wilkins was the “star” of this team but the guy I left admiring the most was Dino Radja (who is now in the hall-of-fame). The guy was relentless on the boards that evening. The Boston Gardens was by all measures a dump. No air conditioning. Uncomfortable seats. Obstructed views. Standing room blocking easy hallway access. Yet nobody seemed to care. 

The building was sold out yet again. I was talking to a gentleman next to me who kept telling me stories of Bird, Havlicek, Russell and Cousy. He had been a single seat season ticket holder for over 30 years and was dreading the changeover to a new building.  He said that most fans were. It would be the end of an era and doubted if a new Celtics tradition could ever re-emerge once it had seen its last game.  

It seems he may have been right. Sports teams are more than just their logo. They are their history which includes the buildings where millions of fans watched them play. When I say “name what comes to mind when I mention the Boston Celtics” most fans will inevitably say the Boston Garden in one of their first descriptive words. It’s a shame that the building couldn’t simply be renovated and updated like Madison Square Garden was in New York.  (Which was also the original name of the Boston Garden).  Every basketball fan has lost something special.

By the way the Celtics won the game against the Sacramento Kings on a last second shot by Dee Brown. 

The picture above I took myself at halftime  



Comments

  1. The infamous Garden monkey whose skeleton was found when the building was taken down was real. I saw it as a kid romping around the audience looking for food, and it was not part of the circus (although I thought it was). Couldn't buy a beer then, but I'm sure it was much cheaper than at TD Garden.

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