New England on a Pedestal

111. The Goal

June 26, 2023 Doug Farquharson Season 1 Episode 11
New England on a Pedestal
111. The Goal
Show Notes Transcript

We complete the trilogy of major Boston sports figures cast in statues by visiting The Garden and Bobby Orr.

They say things happen in threes. Good news. Bad news. Celebrity deaths. Well, now you can add podcast episodes to the list. Hello and welcome to another episode of the New England on a Pedestal podcast. I am your host, Doug Farquharson and today’s episode is the third one in a row discussing New England sports figures. Episode nine had us visiting the boys of summer outside Fenway Park. The Secretary of Defense on the Garden’s parquet court was the subject of episode ten when we left off over by Boston’s City Hall Plaza. Of the three major league sports that have teams that play within the city’s borders, that leaves hockey and the Boston Bruins. So let’s head over a few city blocks and visit the TD Garden and the North End.

I grew up in Boston and was a kid during the late sixties and early seventies. My aunt had season tickets to the Bruins along with a bunch of her coworkers at Ma Bell. And every once in a while my Mom would get the phone call from her sister that someone couldn’t make the night’s game. I’d have to immediately get my homework finished and be dressed and ready, standing on the curb out front of our house when my aunt’s Skylark came zipping down the street. We’d fly into town, park in her favorite underground garage and beat feet to section 104 up in the balcony where my sweet aunt transformed into a rabid Bruins fan, yelling and screaming at the opponents and expressing her devotion to the Big Bad Bruins. Names lie Bucyk, Esposito, Park, Sanderson, Cashman, and of course, Orr. I remember my older sister having several autographed items of his: an 8x10 black and white photo of THE goal, a stick, and maybe the coolest of them, a practice jersey with a blood stain on it. I hope she still has those safely tucked away somewhere.

So, let’s head over to the TD Garden, shall we?

We find ourselves on Causeway Street in Boston in the vicinity of the TD Garden, the new modern version of the Garden I went to as a kid and the North Station where you can hop on a Green line trolley or an Orange line train on the MBTA or catch an Amtrak or Commuter Rail train. There’s plenty of good restaurants and bars in the area, too. This is where you’ll find the Bobby Orr statue. The 800 pound bronze sculpture was designed by Harry Webber and unveiled on May 10, 2010. It had been moved a couple times due to ongoing construction in the area but now resides right at the Hub on Causeway at 110 Causeway St. It is designed after a famous photograph taken seconds after Orr scored the winning goal in the 1970 Stanley Cup playoffs. That’s the black and white 8x10 my sister had autographed. 

The statue has a prominent place in an entrance plaza leading into the arena and associated restaurants and a music venue. Orr’s figure appears to be defying gravity as he soars through the air arms extended over his head as he celebrates his game winning goal. In fact, a plaque on the pedestal indicates that this is indeed “The Goal.” And goes on further to say “Bobby Orr’s famous Stanley Cup winning goal. May 10, 1970. Boston Garden. Boston Bruins sweep St Louis Blues with a 4-3 overtime win in Game 4.” On the opposite side of the pedestal is another plaque that has all of the players’ names from the 69-70 Bruins as engraved on the Stanley Cup.  The statue was commissioned and paid for by the Boston Bruins organization as a gift to the fans of the city of Boston and was dedicated on the fortieth anniversary of the events that inspired it.

Born in St Loius, MO in 1942, Webber, the artist responsible for this statue served for several years in the US Navy in Vietnam where he created many drawings of his combat and other experiences there. He was awarded several medals and commendations during his time in the service. According to his Wikipedia page, “The Weber body of work includes over 150 large commissioned sculptures on public view in twenty states, the Caribbean, China and Africa. These include historical figures, notables in the arts, politics and sports in twenty-six different cities across the country. His sculptures have been featured at the Museum of Fine Art in Newport, Rhode Island and are in the permanent collections of the National Dog Museum and the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York…Two of his sculptural groups have been designated National Lewis and Clark sites by the Federal Parks Department. This includes a twice life sized grouping of Lewis and Clark on the St. Louis Riverfront which commemorated the final celebration of the bicentennial of the expedition. He was selected in 2010, in a national competition, to sculpt a statue of Dred Scott and Harriet Scott, which was unveiled on June 8, 2012, at the Old Courthouse (St. Louis, Missouri) where the initial court cases were heard.

His sculptures of famous sports figures are prominent features at fifteen different professional and amateur stadiums, including Busch Stadium in St. Louis, MO, the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts, and Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. In 2011 he was named the Sports Sculptor of the Year by the United States Sports Academy. He was inducted into the St Louis Sports Hall of Fame in 2019 and was given a Star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame in 2023.”

Webber has said of his work on this piece that "The main objective of the statue of Bobby Orr is to faithfully capture both the likeness of this great defenseman, and the spirit and emotion of the few seconds on May 10, 1970. ‘The Goal’ has become a defining moment, not only for the Bruins, but for the sport of Hockey." I think he definitely achieved his objective. It’s a really fun statue and for any Boston Bruin fan old enough to remember that epic goal, it transports you back to 1970.

Robert Gordon Orr was born in Parry Sound, Ontario, Canada in 1948 and began playing hockey at a young age and by the time he was 14 he was playing for a junior affiliate of the Bruins. Originally a forward, he was moved to defense and was encouraged to use his impressive skating skills to control game play. He was named an all star for three of the four years he played with the Oshawa Generals. His coach, Bucko MacDonald encouraged Orr to use his speed, stick and puck handling skills, and scoring abilities to make offensive rushes.  Orr signed with the Bruins despite being wooed by several other teams because as he put it “they're a team of the future. They're rebuilding and I want to be part of that building program." He moved up to the big leagues in 1966 and played for twelve seasons before bad knees got the best of him. For the first ten of those he was a Bruin before finishing his playing career in Chicago with the Black Hawks.

He has received many many accolades and titles over the years. Orr remains the only defensive player to win the Art Ross trophy as the league’s highest scoring player. He did that twice. He has eight consecutive Norris Trophies for best defensive player and three Hart Trophies as the league’s MVP. At 39 years old in 1979, he became the youngest inductee in the Hall of Fame at that time. In 2017, the NHL named him as one of the one hundred greatest players of all time. He was one of the first NHL players to be represented by an agent and became the highest paid rookie at that time. In his second contract he became the first million dollar player in the NHL.

It's fairly safe to say that #4 changed the way hockey was played. He was extremely entertaining to watch with his speed, skating abilities, and stick handling. His aggressive style however was very rough on his left knee in particular and had over a dozen surgeries on it. Eventually, it led to his retirement at age 30. In later years, Orr tried his hand at coaching and consulting various teams and clubs. He worked through several financial hardships and battled the NHL on behalf of the players association and their pension plans. He has quietly worked with many charitable organizations over the years and has always been fiercely loyal to his former teammates, often helping them out in times of need.

As I mentioned earlier in this episode, for me anyway, just standing next to The Goal and looking up at the larger than life figure flying through the air brings back many very happy memories from my youth. Number 4 always seemed bigger than life to us kids growing up in Boston. And his statue actually is. It’s designed to be about 110% larger than Orr actually was. Subtle, but really conveys that feeling we all had watching him zoom around the rink. I’ve seen him at events a few times as an adult but never had the opportunity to speak with him. I’m sure he’s heard it thousands of times before, but I’d probably thank him for being a really good part of my youth. 

Right next to Orr’s statue and up a flight of stairs is Guy Feiri’s Tequilla Cocina. Great Mexican inspired food and cocktails and a really cool and fun vibe all around. Great place to go before catching a game or concert at The Garden or a show at Big Night Live, which is a great concert venue.

As you know by now, the concept behind New England on a Pedestal is rather simple. Travel around our six-state area, find some interesting statues, and discuss them. If you know of a statue or sculpture we should cover, let us know! If you have additional information or maybe a correction about something we have already shared, please send it our way and perhaps, we will add an addendum to a later episode.

We would love to hear from you. Let us know what you think. What we are doing right? What we can do better? Let us know of a statue with a story near and dear to you. We can be reached via email at That’s New England on a Pedestal all one word at F A R Q I E dot com.  Go to Facebook and like the New England on a Pedestal page. Follow us on Instagram. 

As usual, a shout out goes to Jason, Sam, and Jake for their artistic help and to Gail and Bekka for their help and support.

Join us next episode when we take a look back at Season one. Until next time, be safe, be well, and keep discovering. Thanks for Joining us!