11.12.2022 – boy howdy! he could

boy howdy! he could
put a puck in the ocean
from Battery Park

In 1977, David Wallechinsk published a book titled The Book of Lists

The book (according to Wikipedia) contained hundreds of lists (many accompanied by textual explanations) on unusual or obscure topics, for example:

  • Famous people who died during sexual intercourse
  • The world’s greatest libel suits
  • People suspected of being Jack the Ripper
  • Worst places to hitchhike
  • Dr. Demento’s 10 Worst Song Titles of All Time
  • Breeds of dogs which bite people the most, and the least

The book was a hit and like most hits, spawned several shelves full of clones/

The one on my mind this morning was titled, The book of sports lists by a Phil Pepe and Zander Hollander.

On page 214, under John Halligan’s 10 Greatest Hockey Flakes was entry number 5 that stated: Fern Gauthier — They said he couldn’t put the puck in the ocean and, from New York’s Battery Park, he proved them right. His first shot hit a parking sign.

Don’t ask me why but this factoid was on my mind when I woke up this morning.

I always liked the poetry of this short statement.

It was magical.

But was it true.

I realized that with all the money and effort spent on constructing the Information Super Highway I had the resources available to check on the story.

So I did.

Sorry to report that while the event of Mr. Gauthier TRYING to put a puck in the ocean from Battery Park did, in 1947, take place, Mr. Gauthier DID NOT hit a no parking sign on his first try.

In fact, with fellow Detroit Red Wings’ Gordie Howe, Ted Lindsay, and Marty Pavelich along as witnesses and with Lew Walter, the reporter for the Detroit Times who had written that Fern couldn’t shoot the puck into the ocean even if he was standing at the water’s edge, Fern set out to show what he could do.

In defense of Mr. Walter, he claimed he was repeating what he heard Gauthier’s team mates say.

In New York for a game with the Rangers, they all went down to Battery Park where one version was that Gauthier fanned on his first two tries and here’s how:

1. On the initial shot, a passing seagull — thinking it was a gift biscuit — nabbed the puck in thin air and the rubber never hit the water.

2. On the follow-up drive, the puck eluded the ocean because it landed on a passing barge.

3. Fern shoots! (splash) he scores!!

Another version and probably the true one is that Gauthier put puck after puck into the water.

Mr. Walter would write, Fern proved not only that he could put the puck in the ocean.

So it did happen but Fern DID NOT hit a No Parking Sign,

Fern proved he COULD put a puck in the ocean from Battery Park.

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