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Portland Boomer Sports Gods, circa 2013


Baby Boomer sports fans carry too many sports memories, but somehow add more.

If recent games need more space to settle, does that mean tossing old memories?

The following are in the permanent collection, along with the new stuff.

  • A boxer named Cassius Clay beat the unbeatable Bear, Sonny Liston.

In the rematch a boxer named Muhammad Ali, who looked like Cassius Clay, beat Liston.

  • In 1969, a hippie-looking football player named Joe Namath led the J-E-T-S over the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III.
  • The same year, a Portland native named Rick Sanders claimed America’s first ever world title in freestyle wrestling.
  • Three years later Franco Harris made the Immaculate Reception in a still unbelievable catch for the 1972 Steelers.
  • Reggie ‘Mr. October’ Jackson hit three home runs in the final game of the 1977 World Series.
  • Super Bowl XIII found All-World tight end Jackie Smith on the business end of a Roger Staubach touchdown pass. Except he dropped it in the end zone. Cowboys lost a close one to the Steelers that day.

Great and near-great contests have come and gone, and Boomers have a nice inventory. But no one expected what happened last weekend.

I’m a Tigard, Oregon guy and as a sports fan feel compelled to attend games when big things are on the line. One of those big things was the Tigard Tigers playing in the state 6A semi-finals.

It was the later of two games in downtown Portland’s Jeld-Wen field.

On the way in I listened to the Alabama vs Auburn Iron Bowl. I rooted for Alabama since the Auburn Tigers denied the Oregon Ducks a national title when the Cam Newton scandal was in full gear.

I parked on NW 18th just off Everett, a few blocks from the stadium. The radio broadcast made it seem like the tie game was headed to overtime. I was free to leave. The Tide would roll.

But a review of the last play showed one second left on the game clock. It still sounded like overtime, except Alabama brought their long leg out to kick a fifty six yard field goal for the win.

I stayed to listen. The high school game had already started, and since Tigard was undefeated, I figured they would run the score up on Central Catholic like they’d done to so many teams all season.

The Sports God was calling the game out of my radio. The kick was short, fielded by an Auburn Tiger. I waited for the announcer to call him down. Didn’t happen. The Tiger ran it back 109 yards for the winning score.

It didn’t make sense at first, then I made the connection. Auburn Tigers win, now Tigard Tigers will win. It was an omen from the Sports Gods.

I walked toward Jeld-Wen stadium thinking about the first time I’d been there. In 1971 it was named Civic Stadium. My older brother Mike Gillaspie was a Shrine All-Star that year, probably the only one from a 0-9 team. It was had a big-time feel.

When I moved to NW Portland in the late ’70’s Neil Lomax was re-writing the record books from Portland State. Since then my kid and his have been on opposing teams, the last when Tigard lost to Lake Oswego in the 2006 state quarter finals.

This year, 2013, marked the tenth anniversary of Tigard’s last championship. Fate would deliver one more win for the Tigers, just like Auburn got theirs.

To make it better I met Scott Bonanno’s dad and talked about his son’s run as Tigard quarterback in 2003. This year the timing was wrong.

Inside Jeld-Wen, home of the Portland Timbers, a jewel of an urban field where the AAA Beavers once played as the top team for the Pittsburgh Pirates in their last World Series year, I hummed ‘We Are Family,’ with visions of Willie Stargell.

I left while the final score of 83-49 glowed from the scoreboard and Central Catholic cheers echoed around like an odd audio wave.

You cannot question the Sports Gods. First they spoke in Alabama, then Portland, Oregon. Real fans carry hope for their team, but accept the final scores, no matter how painful.

I still wonder how a team racks up 83 points. Seven first down carries for seven touchdowns is a good start, but how does that happen?





About David Gillaspie


  1. Nancy Lewis Swendsen says:

    Great review of sports memories David! Do you remember who in our graduating class revered Joe Namath?

    • David Gillaspie says:

      There was a run on white shoes in 1973. I had a pair. Who revered Joe Namath? Dan Richards comes close.

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