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'It's A Wonder The Kids Didn't Play With It': Roxbury Couple's Hockey Stick Could Be Worth Millions

A wooden hockey stick.
Goldin Auctions, Courtesy
An old piece of Hornbeam wood that sat for many years in a Roxbury umbrella stand may just be one of the oldest hockey sticks in the world.

Germaine and Gary Morse of Roxbury kept an old curved piece of wood in their umbrella stand for many years. Germaine’s brother had found it in their grandmother’s house in Northfield in 1980. It turns out that old piece of curved wood may be one of the oldest hockey sticks in existence, estimated to have been made sometime between 1850 and 1870. And as a result, it’s being sold off by a sports memorabilia auction house, with an initial appraisal at more than $3 million.

The Morses spoke to VPR's Mitch Wertlieb about the find. Their interview is below. It has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Mitch Wertlieb: This is such an amazing story. First of all, tell us how this hockey stick came to you and how you eventually realized there might be more to it than meets the eye.

Gary Morse: Well Tony, Germaine's brother, showed up at our front door one day and had that [the stick] in his hand. And when I answered, he asked me if I wanted it. He thought it was a conversation piece and it might be old or it might not be. So I told him, 'Glad to have it.' And I took it from him and stuck it in the umbrella stand.

Germaine Morse: Which isn't really an umbrella stand!

It's not?

Gary: It's an old crock that we use as an umbrella stand.

Now, when you saw this stick, I mean, I've seen pictures of it. It does have a a little bit of a curve to it. But did it look to you like, 'Oh yeah, hockey stick!' or did you just think, 'This is an old piece of wood?'

Germaine: Yeah, it looked like a hockey stick to us, but we didn't know what it exactly was or how old it was.

Gary: It sat there for years and years and years. And then we got in the process of thinking about selling our small farm. That's when Germaine started researching it on the Internet. I'll let her tell you about that.

Germaine: I just happened to come across the Gordon Sharpe stick on the internet one day and it said it was the most expensive hockey stick ever sold. I think it was a price of $4.25 million. And I said, 'Huh, that looks familiar!'

Gary: So we did more research on it and we found who appraised the Gordon Sharpe stick on the internet. We reached out to him in Canada and we had to go through a lot of process [to verify].

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I'll bet. I mean, there must be carbon dating. There must be ways of trying to verify just how old this stick is.

Gary: Well, you have to verify what kind of wood it is too, and to our knowledge right now, it's the only hornbeam stick in existence.

Were you expecting a large number? I mean, how did you feel when he said, 'This stick could be worth millions?'

Germaine: I think we're just kind of in awe, not really knowing what to think. And we finally found an auction house that wanted to try to sell it.

And when is all that going to happen and where's it going to take place?

Gary: It's currently on sale at Goldin Auctions out of New Jersey. It's currently online now. It runs through the 16th of May.

So nobody knows how it originally got into that house in Northfield all those years ago in the first place?

Gary: We're not sure. The house was a double tenement. And when Germaine's brother bought the house, they'd been using one side to live and the other side was used for storage, and it was chock-full. So whether or not it was something handed down to the family or if a tenant left it or whatever, there's no way to prove anything there.

I have to ask: are either of you hockey fans at all?

Germaine: Gary is!

Gary: Yes, I am. I got my son interested in hockey when he was five years old and from the time he was five until he graduated high school, I think I missed one game. And then when he went away to college, I started going to hockey games at Norwich University. And I currently get season passes every year. The Cadets have a pretty good team this year. They set all kinds of records, and then the season was cut short.

We're missing sports in a big way. That's part of why this story this is so wonderful because it's bringing us back to all those good things about sports. Certainly not a stick that you want to go out and play street hockey with at this point.

Germaine: It's a wonder that the kids didn't play with it.

Gary: We're very grateful to all the hockey friends we made in our research. They were all very helpful. We're also hoping the stick ultimately winds up where it'll be on display and enjoyed by hockey fans and appreciated for its historic value.

It'd be great if it ended up in the Hockey Hall of Fame up in Toronto.

Gary: I'd love it.

Correction 10:10 a.m. 4/30/2020 In an earlier version of this interview, Gordon Sharpe was misidentified as an appraiser. This has been corrected in the audio and in the text of this web story.

A graduate of NYU with a Master's Degree in journalism, Mitch has more than 20 years experience in radio news. He got his start as news director at NYU's college station, and moved on to a news director (and part-time DJ position) for commercial radio station WMVY on Martha's Vineyard. But public radio was where Mitch wanted to be and he eventually moved on to Boston where he worked for six years in a number of different capacities at member station a Senior Producer, Editor, and fill-in co-host of the nationally distributed Here and Now. Mitch has been a guest host of the national NPR sports program "Only A Game". He's also worked as an editor and producer for international news coverage with Monitor Radio in Boston.
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