Sunday, February 28, 2016

Andy Bathgate - R.I.P.

Losing a sports hero always brings back memories of the hero and his deeds and legends. With Bathgate I had that feeling every time I went to a Ranger game and saw the players skating. Nobody skated like Bathgate. He was smooth, determined and classy. Hey, that's the word, classy. Bathgate exuded class. Never in my many years as a fan have I seen a more classy player than Bathgate.

Yes, he had the numbers. 973 points in 1069 games. 40 goals in 1958-59, a 70 game season. The Hart Memorial Trophy in 1958-59. 10 goals in 10 consecutive games, still a Ranger record. But he was more than the numbers.

He skated against Hall of Famers Gordie Howe and Bobby Hull and was never outshone by either. He fought the NHL to enforce and toughen "spearing" penalties, often a tool of Howe. He fought with the Rangers over their sub par practice facilities when the Rangers played in the "old Garden". He was not a quiet star he was a leader and a fighter.

When I go to the games I wear my Bathgate jersey. It draws aahs from the knowing and questions from the younger ones. One night I had the privilege of sitting with Rod Gilbert in the boxes and he wanted to know why I didn't have his jersey. I asked Hot Rod to sign it so that I would have the greatest Ranger players jersey signed by his heir and successor, the next greatest Ranger. Hot Rod gleefully signed it.

So goodbye old friend. You were missed when you left the Rangers and now you will be missed again, especially by your loving family and those of us who have had the privilege of seeing you play. We will be hard pressed to see a player like you come along again. Prayers and condolences to your family.

God bless you, Andy Bathgate, and R.I.P. 



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