By Guy Mitchell aka sweetg1

I’ve had the opportunity to see many games in my lifetime. I attended my first baseball game at the Astrodome (Dodgers versus Astros). My first pro football game was the 1977 Broncos versus the Bills the year the Broncos went to the Super Bowl (I got to see the Juice live – which was a thrill back then because I had my Juicemobiles!) and also saw many great football games live with the Broncos. But one of my greatest sports moments came, not from my favorite sport, but perhaps my fourth favorite; hockey.

Back before we had the Colorado Avalanche, we had the Colorado Rockies hockey team. The Rockies weren’t that entertaining back then, but the tickets were cheap and I developed an interest in the game because of the speed of the players. What a fast game it was!

On March 6, 1982, I got tickets to the Colorado Rockies versus the Edmonton Oilers. I was a high school sophomore at the time and going to the games (any sort of game) was a treat. But this was the first time that I was going to see Wayne Gretzky live. For those that recall, this was the season that Gretzky scored 212 point, including 92 goals. He had an incredible streak coming into the game, where he had scored a point in X number of consecutive games and most that came to McNichols Sports Arena were expecting nothing different but a laughter, considering the Oilers were leading the division and the Rockies only finished the season with 18 wins in what would be their final season in Colorado.

My buddy and I went to the game on a $6.50 ticket and sat up in the rafters. Normally, the Rockies drew very few and getting a ticket to a game was quite easy. However (if my recollection is correct), this game was a sellout and everyone wanted to see how many the Great One could put in against our hapless Rockies.

Our seats were in the rafters behind one of the goals. I had been to Rockies games before, but with Gretzky in the house, we expected that there was going to be a certain buzz.

The game ended up being pure magic. The Rockies were shutting out Gretzky and ended his point streak (which, I think was a record at the time). But this was one of the few games in which the Rockies actually put on a great show. The crowd was going nuts as they could sense that we were witnessing something special. But what made the moment more memorable was getting to be a part of the game.

With about 5 or 6 minutes in the game, my buddy and I decided to work our way down to the player’s bench. Seeing the game up close was something special, as we determined that it was hard to appreciate the speed of the players from the rafters. With about a minute left in the game, Colorado Rockies player Don Lever broke his stick and came over to the bench to get a new one. As the crowd became chanting the countdown of the clock on the 5-2 victory, the crowd was certainly in a frenzy, something not really seen in Denver unless you went to a Broncos game. As the clock hit zero, a number of fans were banging on the glass, yelling, “Stick…stick…stick…”, as we all just wanted something from the game. The guy from the bench held up Don Lever’s broken stick to me and I was able to grab it before anyone beat me to the punch. At that time, it had to be the greatest moment in all of sports. I was the kid who used to run all over the minor league park (Denver Bears games at Mile High Stadium) trying to get foul balls. I always wanted something from a game and here it was being handed to me. I remembered seconds later, they also threw Glenn “Chico” Resch’s goalie stick into the stands (he, of course, was the number 1 star of the game), but I held onto Lever’s stick like it was a Barry Bonds home run ball.

The Rockies became the New Jersey Devils the next year and it was awhile before Denver saw professional hockey again. I had never been part of a crowd-frenzy like that before, and getting a part of this special game made my love of sports something that I’ll never forget.

Happy trading everyone!