Posted: Sun February 24, 2013 1:03AM; Updated: Sun February 24, 2013 1:03AM
Nick Zaccardi
Nick Zaccardi>INSIDE OLYMPIC SPORTS

Eruzione's 'Miracle On Ice' keepsakes net $1.3M

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Mike Eruzione
Mike Eruzione said most of the items up for auction had been stored in his attic for more than 30 years.
Nick Zaccardi/SI.com

NEW YORK -- Mike Eruzione's Miracle on Ice hockey stick and gold-medal-winning USA jersey now belong to a 9-year-old named Seven.

A boy wearing a black No. 5 David Wright Mets jersey won the stick for $262,900 and the jersey for $286,800 at a sports memorabilia auction Saturday night. Eruzione's Miracle on Ice jersey, not the one he wore in the gold-medal game against Finland that Seven won, fetched the highest amount, $657,250, of every lot in a three-hour, $5 million, 134-item session at Fletcher-Sinclair mansion.

"Could I say I thought it would go for more money, yeah, but it went for a pretty good amount," said Eruzione, who thought to sell 18 of his 1980 Olympic keepsakes after seeing a 1972 Canadian Summit Series hockey jersey go for $1.275 million.

Seven, who is not named after Mickey Mantle, watched the movie "Miracle" for the first time this week.

"It was all he talked about for three days," his father said.

He and his father, John, an avid baseball memorabilia collector, were already flying from Texas to win autographed Mel Ott and Mickey Mantle baseballs and a 1915 Boston Red Sox team signed sheet, including Babe Ruth. The most notable non-Eruzione item was one of Curt Schilling's two blood-stained socks from the 2004 playoffs that went for a lower-than-hoped $92,613.

Seven met Eruzione on Friday and told him he was going to buy the hockey stick, the first item up for bid. On Saturday, Seven sat a couple rows behind the front-and-center Eruzione, stood on his chair and forcefully waved his Mantle-inspired paddle (with pinstripes and the No. 7), drawing laughs from a crowd of about 50. Seven thanked the auctioneer, shook people's hands and answered a trivia question about Roger Maris' middle name. Apparently, he had enough left over to buy the jersey a few minutes later.

"It was all Seven," said his father, who owns a business in Texas. "All from his fund."

Eruzione watched the bidding, which lasted a few minutes per item, with his arms folded and, at times, scratching his neck. Only the first six lots were his.

"I was thinking about dinner at 8:30 at Del Frisco's [Double Eagle Steakhouse]," he said, hoping he would be able to make it across Central Park in time as the 7 p.m. auction start was delayed by a half-hour. "I gotta pay the check, but that's OK."

Why would Eruzione sell his Miracle memories? The answer begins with a borrowed line from his 1980 Olympic hockey coach, Herb Brooks.

"There is a method to my madness," he said.

Eruzione, the team captain from Winthrop, Mass., stood at the center of history on the second floor of the mansion on Friday night.

To his left: A collector's paradise. Heritage Auctions' assembled artifacts to be sold to the highest bidder throughout the weekend, the room crowded like the Canucks' crease.

Not only 18 items from his old hockey bag in an attic trunk, but also Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's first game goggles, one of Eruzione's teammates' gold medal and a baseball signed by the Beatles. The 134 pieces were part of a 310-page booklet with a holographic cover morphing the 1980 hockey team's on-ice celebration with Eruzione's white No. 21 jersey. They billed it: Platinum Night Featuring the Mike Eruzione Collection.

The items were gawked at behind glass and under security cameras by women with wine glasses, men in suits and a dude in a Columbus Blue Jackets sweatshirt.

Eruzione, 58, in a black Adidas zip-up and dress pants across the hall, recounted stories and politely passed on hors d'oeuvres.

"I'm waiting for the lob-stah rolls," he joked.

To his right: A projection screen a bit wider than an NHL net. ABC's telecast of the U.S.-USSR game, on its 33rd anniversary, rolled on in Eruzione's peripheral vision. He didn't need any reminder.

"We could have lost," Eruzione said as a commercial ran teasing ABC's Monday Night Movie Special, Elvis. "All my teammates and I experienced something nobody in our lives will ever experience. I can't tell you how many times people come up to me and say, 'I remember where I was when we won.'

"We? I didn't remember you were on the team," Eruzione joked.

Six of Eruzione's items -- his white and blue USA jerseys, red pants, red, white and blue gloves, blue medal-stand sweatsuit and the stick he scored the Miracle winning goal with -- went for a combined $1.31 million Saturday night.

Twelve more lower-priced items, including his Olympic laundry bag, credential and opening ceremony cowboy hat, will be auctioned Sunday. Eruzione doesn't know where his helmet or skates are.

He also didn't realize Friday was the 33rd anniversary of the Miracle until the morning of when the annual phone calls began pouring in.

So, why did Eruzione let go of the treasures? He described the method to his madness in an analogy.

"When an actor or an actress wins an Oscar, their uniform is only part of it," he said. "But the Oscar is the ultimate prize that will never be sold. ... The gold medal, that's what I want."

Eruzione will never part with the medal, or the ring he still wears on his left hand. The rest he would rather sell than let collect dust at home. He's not broke. The money will be split among his three children and charity.

"I'm doing it for the right reasons," Eruzione said. "To me, everything's about family."

Eruzione consulted them in making the decision, then emailed his Olympic teammates. He confided to his Boston University coach, Jack Parker, who is like a father to him.

"If I told you I was going to sell my Olympic memorabilia for a couple million dollars, what would your opinion be?" Eruzione asked Parker.

The answer was similar to how Brooks, who died in 2003, would have reacted.

"Herb would've laughed and said, 'You're nuts, absolutely do it,'" Eruzione said. "He would've sold his jacket and the checkered pants."

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