This week Andy Bathgate my favorite all time hockey player passed away. He was an amazing graceful gentleman player and my hero. My favorite sports number was 9 because of him.
As everyone knows, I had two racers who stuck out for me as heros Glen Schurr who inspired me so much I ran #36 on my race cars from the beginning.
In 2009 I had 2 Late Models and one was #9. I called Mr. Bathgate and asked him if I could put the Ranger logo and his number on the hood of my car. It was the same I had been doing for decades with “36 for Schurr”. He said yes and asked me for my address and sent me some pictures of him.
I followed him very closely. New York Rangers were my favorite team because of Andy Bathgate although Leafs were a close second.
I was so excited when he came to Toronto. I remember he came to Leafs for Dick Duff and Bob Nevin. Don McKenney also came, Andy was the Captain of the Rangers and Don the Captain of Boston then. Leafs won the cup that year taking the series in 7 over Detroit.
I was watching game 7 when the puck was in the Leaf end and it came back to the point but it bounced over, or got by Pete Goegon. Andy Bathgate got a break away and scored the Stanley Cup-winning goal for the 1964 Maple Leafs. It was the first goal of the game and the Leafs won 4-0.
When he scored I yelled, going nuts. I made such a loud noise it scared my Dad who was in the kitchen playing euchre. He came running to the living room and said “what’s going on, why were you screaming so loud”? I realized for a second I might have woke people up in the next city, so I said in a shy but happy voice “Andy Bathgate just scored for the Leafs”. Dad looked at me and shook his head saying “what the hell is wrong with you”!!! I was just excited and Dad was okay after that.
Some of his NHL stats:
* Played for Rangers for 10 years
* Won the Hart Trophy, MVP in the NHL scoring 40 goals in 1959
* Tied for points lead with Bobby Hull in 62, Hull won the Art Ross, he had more goals
* Had 56 assists and 28 goals in 1962
* Scored the winning goal in 64 playoffs game 7 giving Leafs the cup
* 1967 NHL expansion season he went to Pittsburg Penguins and scored their first NHL goal
* Scored in 11 consecutive games. That record lasted until Gretzky broke it
* He is famous for contributing to one of the greatest innovations in NHL history. Renowned for the strength of his slap shot, during a game against the Montreal Canadiens, Bathgate shot the puck into the face of Jacques Plante, forcing Plante to receive stitches. When Plante returned to the ice, he was wearing a mask. That started a trend that continues to this day
* WHL MVP (1970)
* A slap shot at Jacques Plante took the glove off Plante putting both puck & glove in the net
* In 1998, he was ranked number 58 on The Hockey News’ list of the 100 Greatest Hockey Players
* He was ranked No. 8 on the all-time list of New York Rangers in the book 100 Ranger Great (2009)
* His sweater was retired on Feb 22nd 2009
* Inducted into the NHL Hall of Fame in 1978