Wednesday, 27 November 2013

TBC: SI's Number Four Bobby Orr

With November nearing a close, I hope you've started your holiday shopping already. If you haven't, Teebz's Book Club is here to help. There have been a pile of books written about former players and superstars, but today we'll look at a collection of stories that follow the career of Bobby Orr. Teebz's Book Club is proud to review Sports Illustrated's Number Four Bobby Orr, written by a collection of journalists and published by McClelland and Stewart. Many people have said that Bobby Orr was the best player to play the game in its history, and Sports Illustrated gave a lot of pages within the magazine's covers to the man from Parry Sound, Ontario. Sports Illustrated's Number Four Bobby Orr is a collection of the best of those articles that deal exclusively with the only defenceman to lead the NHL in scoring.

There are a number of fantastic scribes who contributed articles used in this book. Michael Farber wrote the foreword. Mark Mulvoy has a number of excellent pieces in the book. Peter Gammons adds a couple of well-written articles. And there are about a half-dozen other men who add some great pieces. Basically, this is a book of all-star writers who covered the Bruins, and the end result is a pretty impressive book.

Sports Illustrated's Number Four Bobby Orr follows Bobby Orr's career only with the Bruins as Sports Illustrated's writers follow the young Orr's career from his rookie season forward. The writers get a number of quotes from teammates, management, and staff on the Boston Bruins through the articles, and they really show how dedicated Bobby Orr was and is to the game of hockey.

Some of the articles are all about Orr's amazing statistical runs in some of the seasons where he was breaking records and setting new accolades, but there are some interesting notes in a few chapters. Bobby Orr, for example, would routinely show up on game night at 2:30pm in the afternoon for a 7:30pm game. He would spend time going through some 200 sticks to find three or four he liked, and then would work on those sticks meticulously until they were just as he wanted. It's this kind of detail that you find in Sports Illustrated's Number Four Bobby Orr that you get nowhere else.

One of the interesting things that Sports Illustrated's Number Four Bobby Orr touched on a couple of times was his guarded nature, especially when it came to trusting people after his fallout with Alan Eagleson who famously left Orr nearly broke. From what Don Cherry told S.L. Price in 2009, it sounds like Orr can see through people fairly easily.
"I got to be careful here," he says finally. "You had to handle him right. You had to know when to talk to him; he was not an easy guy. He could spot a phony a mile away. There were so many people after him all the time that he became suspicious; he was never really friendly with a lot of people. When I first went there, I made the mistake: He was eating alone, and I made conversation. How was the fishing this year? And he picked up right away that I was just making conversation, and he didn't like that. He didn't like any bull----, and you know what? He's exactly like that today. He's pretty unforgiving. If you cross him, you will never get the chance to cross him again."
I found that to be a pretty amazing quotation from one of Bobby Orr's best friends. To think that Orr basically saw through and dismissed the small talk that Cherry was making as his coach is pretty eye-opening when it comes to speaking to the personality of Bobby Orr. If I ever get the chance to meet Mr. Orr, I'm not going to small talk him whatsoever!

Overall, I found the collection of articles about Mr. Orr contained within the covers of Sports Illustrated's Number Four Bobby Orr to be an excellent review of his eight short seasons in the NHL. The articles are excellent, not very long in terms of their length, and very insightful over the book's 190 pages. The writers give some very good looks inside the Boston Bruins and into Bobby Orr's life, and it makes it pretty easy to award Sports Illustrated's Number Four Bobby Orr the Teebz's Book Club Seal of Approval!

Sports Illustrated's Number Four Bobby Orr would make for a fantastic gift for any hockey fan, especially an older Boston Bruins fan, and can be found at your local bookstore!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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