Right off the bat I will tell you that the only man I’ve ever looked up to other than my own father, the great Al Morse, is Bobby Orr! 

My Dad, Al Morse

Don Cherry and Bobby Orr (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)

I grew up in the 1970’s worshipping Bobby Orr and the Big Bad Bruins! They OWNED the hearts and minds of the city of Boston. Bobby Orr, Phil Esposito, Derek Sanderson, Ken Hodge, Pie McKenzie, Wayne Cashman, Gerry Cheevers….

They won Stanley Cups in 1970 and 1972 and their popularity lead to the explosion of  youth hockey in Massachusetts.

My Dad and I at the Garden

In Medford, where I grew up, all the kids played street hockey and we’d fight over who would get to be Bobby Orr. We’d fight over who looked like him, too. He was a GOD to us! I’d play with the neighborhood kids….Anthony and Richie Capone, Stephen and Brian McAveeney and whoever else was around. They are some of my best memories of growing up. The older kids even let the younger kids play, although most of the time we’d end up playing goalie. If I couldn’t be Bobby Orr, I’d be Gerry Cheevers.

Hank WANTED to be Bobby Orr when he grew up! All he was lacking was the talent, because he had the uniform! (Christmas, 1971)

Bobby Orr retired from hockey in 1979 and then set off on a career in business and philanthropy. He never said “no” to an autograph, waited to sign for everyone, was a gentleman to all he met and always downplayed his success and ability. He was HUMBLE. He appreciated what the city of Boston, his teammates and the fans did for him just as much as they appreciated him.

In short, Bobby Orr was and has never been a disappointment. It’s almost unfair to him that he is held to such a high standard.

I used to tell my kids “When Bobby Orr scores he puts his head down and skates back to his position. You know why? He never wanted to embarrass his opponent!” That doesn’t happen too often in this “ESPN-Sportscenter-Play-of-the-day-Top 10-Look at me” culture!

I had the great fortune to have three wonderful interactions with Bobby over the years and each one has a special place in my heart.

Please listen to my stories, below:

The first time I met Bobby Orr, 1974!

Skating with Bobby Orr!

Meeting Bobby Orr with my nephew. Cole!