Bittersweet, emphasis on the Bitter

As my friend Bill asked me ‘It was 42 years ago today’ I knew right away: ‘Do you believe in Miracles? YES!’ There has never been a more iconic call in the history of sports — or anywhere for that matter. Russ Hodges called ‘The Giants Win The Pennant!’ which Red Barber thought was way over top.

That said I come to you today to talk about the late Mark Pavelich, who passed a year ago March 4 of a suicide. He was a key cog of that of that magical Olympic teamand who had a moderately successful NHL career with the Rangers.

This is a sad tale, for many reasons.

First do a Google search of his mug shot in 2019. He looks terrible. Ragged. Unhappy. Just bad. And this was nothing new-he’d been like this for some time. He had issues.

One thing that struck me was that in the days leading up to the suicide he was happy. Euphoric, even. It looked for all the world he was on the right track. And yet, four days later, he was dead.

I am not a mental health professional, but I have had to fight the demons all my life. What Pavelich went through at the end is common with suicide victims-as they approach the end, and they know that suicide is imminent, they become happy. Why varies, but from my view in the cheap seats, it’s because they know what that they’re going to do, and have accepted it, and know it’s coming. So at ease, they enjoy the rest of their days, if not relieved, comfortable with where they are and what will happen.

I read also he may have also had CTE (not surprising, especially considering the primitive helmet equipment back in the day) which his family is pursuing. A 15 second Google search didn’t inform me, and I don’t know if someone knows, but it wouldn’t surprise me.

The reason I write this today is because mental health is real. I’ve dealt with it for 55 years and I was, especially, unfortunately paired by and large paired with ‘professionals’ who were ill equippped at best, dirty and mean spirited at worst, and I’ll leave it at that. In adulthood I’ve had good luck with therapists. I recently ended a relationship with a therapist I saw for 14 years, and now am seeing one who’s a better fit for what I need.

I’ll wrap this up with two things:

1. There’s no shame going to therapists and psychiatrists. One thing that makes Howard Stern so great is that he’s open about it. I wouldn’t say he makes it cool, but his message is ‘Look, I’m the biggest personality in radio, and I have my dark issues.’ Howie Mandel also talks about ‘the dark place’, to his credit.

2. And to wrap this up, something to make you smile. Many people who read this won’t have first hand memories of this (I was 13 and I saw the game on tape delay, as did pretty much everyone) But when you watch the final minute, and hear Al Michaels’s call, and you hear the last second and the crescendo, tell me it doesn’t give you goose bumps. These athletes eventually will leave us (not anytime soon, I hope) but, like the 2002 Patriots, Mike Piazza in the aftermath of 9–11, the Beatles on Ed Sullivan on 2–9–64, they lifted a country and brought us together, when we desperately needed it. (And believe it or not there was a time where the Pats were America’s Sweethearts, the flavor of the month, led by an unproven 24 year old QB who, eventually, would put the number 199 on the map and make Boston a football town)

All of which we could sure use right now.

Enjoy your day. Out

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