Monday, February 23, 2015

1980 United States Olympic Team "Miracle on Ice" Jerseys

While the vast majority of the jerseys worn by the members of the 1980 United States Olympic Hockey Team remain in the possession of the players, over the last 35 years a number of the jerseys from that historic event have made their way into the marketplace.

The first member of the 1980 United States Olympic Hockey Team to part with either his blue jersey from the gold medal clinching game against Finland or his white jersey from the "Miracle on Ice" game against the Soviet Union, was Mark Wells.

Mark Wells
Mark Wells

Of all the players on the team, Wells was the only one to reportedly arrive back to his hometown following the games and not receive a hero's welcome, which personally affected Wells in a way that led to him not placing as much importance on his memorabilia as his other teammates, who were given parades and other accolades upon their return home.

While Wells' teammates held on to both their blue and white jerseys following the Games, Wells gave his blue jersey to a family friend and his white one was put on display in his brother's bar, where it remained on display until 2002. That was when the family friend in possession of the blue jersey ran into some financial difficulty and asked Wells if it would be alright if he sold the jersey. Wells gave his blessing and the jersey was posted for sale on an online message board by his sister, rather than putting it up for auction through ebay or any of a number of high end auction houses which specialize in sports memorabilia.

When an offer was submitted at a price the Wells family was quite pleased, if not surprised with, Mark then agreed to make the white jersey available for the same price as well.

The owner of the white jersey from the Miracle on Ice game became  , who is the director of the MeiGray Vintage, part of the MeiGray Group, the leading seller of authenticated game worn NHL, AHL and ECHL jerseys. Stu has displayed his Wells jersey in public, including at the 2004 NHL All-Star Game Fan Fest as well as the annual MeiGray Game Worn Jersey Expo. The blue jersey is in the hands of a different collector. To date, these are the only two 1980 Olympic jerseys which have been made available to collectors.

Mark Wells 1980 USA jersey
Mark Wells 1980 USA Miracle on Ice jersey
on display at the 2005 MeiGray Expo

Wells, who has been suffering from a rare genetic disease of the spinal cord, also parted with his 1980 Olympic Gold Medal for $40,000 to help offset his medical bills from the five back surgeries he has had to endure, only to see the buyer consign the medal to Heritage Auctions, who then sold Wells' medal for $310,700, and was also the first of the 20 Miracle on Ice medals to ever be offered for public sale. His Olympic ring has also been sold through Heritage Auctions as well.

Mark Wells 1980 Olympic gold medal

"It killed me to sell the medal. Killed me," Wells said to the New York Daily News. "But my life was crumbling. I was going to lose my home. I needed to sell it to have surgery and to live. I had no choice. The medal was a reward - a medal of honor, but really, it's just a commodity. The memories are what's most important. They can't be bought. They can't be sold. They will always be here, and no amount of of money can change that."

Mark Wells

It would not be until ten years later that another member of the 1980 US squad would part with one of their jerseys. Then in 2012 Ken Morrow decided to auction his white "Miracle on Ice" jersey through Classic Auctions.

Morrow said he finally decided to look toward the future and begin the process of determining which items he's kept that he wanted to leave to his family and which ones he was willing to part with. The jersey had been taken out to charity events and speaking engagements at schools, but it was otherwise kept on a hanger in his closet and "There's just so many things you can do with that," he said. The jersey finally sold for $104,328 to Barry Meisel of the same MeiGray Group Oxenhorn works for. Of note, Morrow's blue jersey worn against Finland resides in the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.


Read about Morrow's jersey in greater detail here.


1980 United States Ken Morrow jersey photo UnitedStates1980Morrowjersey.jpg
photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

The sale of both Morrow's jersey, and that of Paul Henderson's 1972 Team Canada jersey, which went for a staggering world record of $1,275,707, caught the attention of the American team captain and Miracle goal scoring hero Mike Eruzione, who decided to help out his adult children after the arrival of a grandchild got him thinking about their future. "I thought this would be a great little nest egg for them for their future with their kids," Eruzione stated prior to the auction. "I'm not desperate for money. It's just easier to divide money between your kids than memorabilia. I wanted to do it when I was young enough to see them enjoy the money. This stuff wasn't doing me any good. It sat in a trunk in the attic for 20 years."

Sensing the time was right, Eruzione then made both is "Miracle on Ice" white jersey, as well as his blue jersey from the Finland game available through Heritage Auctions in 2013.


eruzione jerseys photo Eruzionejerseys.jpg

The blue jersey wold for $286,800, while the white one brought in $657,250. While nothing to sneeze at, it was far below the $1,000,000 pre-sale estimated price and far less than Henderson's Summit Series sweater went for despite it being only the third white 1980 USA jersey to become available in 33 years.

United States 1980 home  jersey photo UnitedStates1980homeFjersey.jpg
United States 1980 home  jersey photo UnitedStates1980homeBjersey.jpg
United States 1980 road jersey photo UnitedStates1980roadFjersey.jpg
United States 1980 road jersey photo UnitedStates1980roadBjersey.jpg
Photos from HeritageAuctions.com

Just a week after Eruzione's jerseys sold, Mark Pavelich's white 1980 jersey was sold on Classic Auctions for $104,328, besting Morrow's example by just under $5,000. With Pavelich avoiding the spotlight in favor of a simpler life in northern Minnesota, it was of little surprise that Pavelich would not be as sentimental about his jersey as many of his teammates, leading to his jersey hitting the auction block sooner rather than later.

 photo USA1980Pavelichjersey.jpg
photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

The latest "Miracle on Ice" jersey to become available in that of Rob McClanahan., the seventh one of any style and just the fifth white "Miracle" jersey. It is currently for sale on Classic Auctions and, as if this writing sits at $22,987 with less than two days remaining in the bidding, which closes at 10 PM eastern on Tuesday evening.


The jersey was consigned to the auction by a member of the 1980 Swedish Olympic Team, who had traded jerseys with McClanahan in Lake Placid - so perhaps McClanahan himself will be able to buy his back!


United States 1980 McClanahan jersey photo UnitedStates1980McClanahanFjersey.jpg
United States 1980 McClanahan jersey photo UnitedStates1980McClanahanBjersey.jpg
photos courtesy of Classic Auctions

Aside from the jerseys which have made their way into the marketplace, there are a few other of the 1980 jerseys we have been able to learn are on public display. Mark Johnson's blue away jersey can be seen at the United States Hockey Hall of Fame in Eveleth, Minnesota.

 photo Johnson 1980 Olympic Blue jersey.jpg
photo by Kyle Oen of VintageMinnesotaHockey.com

In 2011, it was reported that Dave Christian was embroiled in a dispute with the Hockey Hall of Fame. Dave and his father Bill Christian, a gold medal winner himself in 1960 and the only father and son team to win gold medals in the same sport, were attempting to get their jerseys back, claiming they had loaned their jerseys to the Hall in 1981.

The Hall of Fame meanwhile, claims that the sweaters were donated, and had no intention of returning what is their property. While lawsuits were threatened, none were ever filed and the Christian's jerseys remain in Toronto.


Christian 1980 USA jersey HHOF
Dave Christian's 1980 jersey on display at
the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto

The only two other jerseys still not in the hands of their original owners are those which belonged to Mike Ramsey. At the conclusion of the Olympics, the team's equipment manager allowed each player to keep all their gear and their equipment bag. Unfortunately, Ramsey's gear bag, which contained both of his jerseys, was stolen in transit to his return to the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport and have never been seen again...

It will be interesting to see what McClanahan's "Miracle" jersey sells for compared to the previous four. Certainly the next big splash would be if goaltender Jim Craig ever decides to take the route of his teammates who have parted with their 1980 jerseys.




If you would like to purchase the most accurate 1980 "Miracle on Ice" jersey available, we recommend the one sold by VintageMinnesotaHockey.com, which was made using measurements form an actual Norcon jersey, the suppliers to the 1980 United States Olympic Hockey Team.

3 comments:

  1. I have always wanted a replica of the 1980 jersey, but it seems like nobody can seem to match it accurately. The "official" replicas that are sold on usahockey.com use the wrong font for the USA, and the spacing is incorrect. Also, the hem and sleeve stripes are the wrong thicknesses. Why is it so difficult to get it right?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Paul,
    Please take a look at this jersey from Vintage Minnesota Hockey and see if it doesn't meet your requirements.

    http://classicmnhockey.com/collections/frontpage/products/1980-team-usa-miracle-on-ice-home-jersey

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hey, thanks for the link! That jersey is much better than the ones that US hockey sells. Lots of other cool stuff on that site as well.

    BTW, your blog is great. Keep up the good work!

    ReplyDelete

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