When I was seven or eight years old, my father and mother bought me a book for Christmas called “Let’s Play Hockey” by Lynn Patrick. Normally this wouldn’t be news. Normally it would’ve been just another hockey book.
But my father got the bright idea to send it to the Montreal Canadiens in Montreal, asking if any of the players would sign it so he could give me something special at Christmas.
The book came back signed by the entire 1958-59 team, and I suppose when I opened it, my eyes must’ve bugged out.
They were all there – Toe Blake, Maurice and Henri Richard, Jean Beliveau, Dickie Moore, Bernie Geoffrion, Jacques Plante, Ralph Backstrom, Bert Olmstead, Marcel Bonin, Tom Johnson, Phil Goyette, Claude Provost, Andre Pronovost, Ian Cushenan, Bob Turner, Jean Guy Talbot, Dollard St. Laurent, Ab McDonald, and Don Marshall.
But darn it, Doug Harvey wasn’t. He must’ve been injured or something when the book was passed around.
But that didn’t stop my father. Later that year he took me to Toronto to see the Habs play the Leafs, and he brought the book with us. And sometime before game time, he took the book down to the corridor outside Montreal’s dressing room, and believe it or not, saw Toe Blake standing there, went up to him and asked him if he would take the book into the room and get Harvey’s autograph for him.
Blake did just that, and that’s Harvey’s signature down at the bottom corner of the opposite page of the other players. Imagine.
Those brown marks are from scotch tape. For awhile, after I got it, I taped a plastic sheet over top to protect them. Because even then I realized the magnitude of this book.