GLOUCESTER — Seventy-seven-year-old Marge Bishop isn’t shy about her Bruins fixation. After all, she named her second son after Bobby Orr.
Bishop’s dining room is filled with signed photos of players. There are Bruins light-up pens, bobblehead dolls, and Christmas ornaments swarming her china cabinet.
But Bishop’s most prized Bruins-related possession is tucked away in a FedEx envelope in her bedroom. It’s a black-and-yellow lanyard with a plastic card attached — her admission to TD Garden.
Bishop has free Bruins tickets for life.
It’s a gift from Charlie Jacobs, son of Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs.
“Why did I get so lucky? How did this happen to me?” said Bishop, who lives in a brown house on a gravelly lot in a wooded area of Gloucester. Her father built the house in 1932.
“I’m just a regular person,” Bishop said. “And I’ve been given this remarkable once-in-a-lifetime gift. It’s incredible. It’s the most remarkable story.”
‘I’m just a regular person. And I’ve been given this remarkable once-in-a-lifetime gift.’
The tale — of a generous gesture from a powerful man — is one Bishop has kept quiet for years. She didn’t think it was her place to speak publicly about it.
“I finally wanted to talk about it because I think people should know,” she said. “Charlie Jacobs is an amazing person.”
Bishop has held a pair of season tickets since the Nixon administration. She and her husband were accustomed to an annual price increase of $3-$5.
But in 2004, the tickets rose from $73 apiece to $90.
“That was just too much,” said Bishop, who worked in customer service at Tupperware for 15 years. “We couldn’t afford it. So we said we wouldn’t renew.”
A Bruins representative asked if she would consider moving back to a cheaper section.
But Bishop loved her first-row seats. She was close enough to feel a part of the action. The Zamboni drivers knew her by name; she handed them chocolate candies after each period.
She said no to moving her seats.
A few days later, the Bishops received a voice mail from Charlie Jacobs, who is the team’s principal. He ended up contacting her all summer.
He invited her to Fenway Park for a Jimmy Fund function, then asked her to join the newly established Season Ticket Advisory Board.
The renewal deadline passed, and the Bruins didn’t open Bishop’s tickets to the public.
“Charlie never gave up on me,” Bishop said, “even though he knew anyone with financial means would scoop those seats up in a heartbeat.”
So Bishop hung on to her seats — until 2006-07.
Most tickets were reduced that season (a byproduct of the 2005-06 lockout). Not Bishop’s. Her pair spiked from $90 a pop to $150.
She told Jacobs that she could no longer afford them.
Jacobs invited Bishop for a backstage tour of the Garden, including the weight room and luxury offices. Then he showed her a plastic card he carries around — a Patriots VIP pass with his name on it.
“He could go to any game he wanted at any time,” Bishop said. “At first I didn’t know why he was showing me it.”
Then Jacobs presented Bishop with a similar card. Hers was good for any Bruins game.
“It was the most unbelievable gesture,” Bishop said. “People just don’t do things like that.”
Bishop has never missed a game. Since her husband begins work at his construction job at 5 a.m. and lifts heavy equipment all day, he’s sometimes too tired to attend.
So Bishop has brought everyone from her doctor to the supermarket cashier.
“Her name was Maria,” Bishop said. “She saw I was wearing a Bruins pin and she said, ‘Oh, I love the Bruins!’ So I asked if she wanted to join me.”
Bishop’s fandom began in the late 1960s when games were first televised on Channel 38. She was enamored by Orr.
During the Bruins’ 1972 Stanley Cup run, Bishop would camp out from 7 p.m. to 9 a.m. at a shopping mall near the ticket offices.
“It was really cold staying out all night,” Bishop said. “We would use newspapers for insulation.”
Bishop always wore yellow sweaters to games. She owned three and rotated them.
Bishop said she doesn’t like to contact Jacobs too much during the season; she knows he’s busy and doesn’t want to distract him. She usually talks to his secretary, if anything.
But since 2004, Jacobs has sent the Bishops his family Christmas card.
Bishop has kept every one, of course, in her dining room.Emily Kaplan can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at @emilymkaplan.