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Kevin Paul Dupont | On Second Thought

Jim Craig letting ‘Miracle’ medal go, but not memories

Jim Craig was the goalie on the 1980 US hockey team.Carlo Allegri/Reuters

He’s been there. He’s done that. He wore the USA T-shirt. He even took home the gold medal.

Now Jim Craig is letting it all go, everything but the memories. The goalie for the triumphant 1980 US Olympic hockey team recently gathered up all his Lake Placid memorabilia, 17 items in all, including the gold medal, and placed it for bid with the Lelands auction house.

“It’s just time,’’ said Craig, reached in St. Petersburg, Fla., where he lives year-round, other than the few weeks he returns each year to vacation in Mattapoisett. “My house can’t be a museum.’’


Craig, who turns 59 on Tuesday, isn’t the first member of the 1980 team to take triumph to the cash window. Six years ago, Mark Wells moved his medal for a reported $310,000. The reclusive Mark Pavelich sold his in 2014 for about $50,000 less. Team captain Mike Eruzione still holds his medal, but three years ago auctioned his USA sweater for $660,000.

As of Friday afternoon, 11 bids had been made on Craig’s medal, and the price was approximately $260,000. Bidding ends June 17 at 9 p.m.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if it brings $1 million,’’ said sports memorabilia merchant Phil Castinetti, owner of Sportsworld, Inc., in Saugus. “The stuff that still moves best is the unique, one-of-a-kind stuff. And Jimmy was one of the two biggest names on the team, right? Michael and Jimmy. It should bring a bundle.’’

For what it’s worth (maybe a million?), Craig said he isn’t wanting for money. For some 10 years now, he’s run his own company, Gold Medal Strategies, a one-man shop centered on motivational speaking and sales training. The driving force behind selling it all now, he said, was to avoid one day having to choose between his son, J.D., and his daughter, Taylor, when it came to divvying up the goods.


“If we only had one child, then it would be easy,’’ said Craig, referring to himself and wife Sharlene. “But two kids. Who gets what? What if one of them were to get divorced one day? There’s only one medal, right? I think you want to be in charge of something that is that valuable, and that’s a big part of it.’’

Some of the money will go to J.D and Taylor, he said, some perhaps one day to a trust for grandchildren. A portion will go to charity.

“Rather than just having all the stuff sitting around, all locked up,’’ Craig said, “I think we can do better things with the money.’’

Meanwhile, Craig keeps the memories of Miracle On Ice tucked away in perpetuity, not for sale, forever yielding profit for the mind. The 4-3 win over Russia (Craig with 36 saves). The gold-clinching win over Finland. The delightful mob scene in the tiny barn in Lake Placid, ice surface littered with sticks, gloves, sweat, glory. Eruzione calling all of Uncle Sam’s sons to the medal podium. The team that surely couldn’t, damn well did.

Jim Craig with his gold medal from the 1980 Olympics.Carlo Allegri/Reuters

For viewers, perhaps the most memorable scene was a sweat-drenched Craig, with the USA flag draped over his shoulders, mask off, skating around the rink and looking for his father in the stands. Donald Craig, age 61, had only recently lost his job as a food service manager at Dean Junior College [now Dean College] in Franklin.


“Where’s my father?’’ Craig said, the ABC cameras tight on his face.

According to Craig, reliving the moment yet again last week, ABC had moved family members to a section closer to the ice. Following the win over Russia, his father had told him the thrill had nearly given him a heart attack.

“He’d had a massive heart attack as a younger man,’’ recalled Craig. “I was worried. That’s why I was looking for him.’’

Father and son found each other near center ice, a memory that lingers for Craig as a meaningful closing of the circle.

“You can always celebrate,’’ he said. “But when you do something like that, and there’s someone there who was such a big part of your life . . . you want to make sure that person understands that, you know, I didn’t forget. That’s what that was, ‘Don’t worry, Dad, I didn’t forget.’ ’’

The scene Feb. 22, 1980 after the US upset the Soviet Union in the Olympics in Lake Placid, N.Y.Associated Press/File

Bidding for the flag on Friday stood at just under $150,000. The flag’s authenticity has been a point of controversy over the years. According to Craig, the flag he gave to Pelle Lindbergh, Sweden’s Olympic goalie, in fact was not the flag that was draped over his shoulders. He initially believed it was, and still thought that when it was given back to him after Lindbergh’s death.

It wasn’t until years later, Craig said, that the true flag, the one in the auction, was given to him by someone who had retrieved it after the game.


“The guy proved to me it was the flag,’’ said Craig. “The flag that was actually wrapped around me went to the Closing Ceremonies, came back, and this guy had it for a number of years. It’s a really interesting story, and the part so great about it is, today an agent hands the athlete a flag, they’re told where to look, and they act patriotic. When our Games happened, you had a fan who brought a flag from home and jumped over the boards and put it on you. Nobody thought about it. Nobody wanted to do it for any gain. It was the purity of our team.’’

More than 36 years later, noted Craig, Bob Suter is the only player on the ’80 team to have died. His death, two years ago at age 57, was another factor in selling, Craig said. Time marches on. The miracle kids are now lions in winter, with estate planning to settle and memories to preserve.

“The guys jumping on me . . . the podium . . . looking for my dad . . . those are the moments I will cherish forever,’’ said Craig. “And the chant of ‘USA!’ rings in my ears. Whenever I have doubt, I just concentrate and listen to that and I just feel like I can accomplish anything.’’

A look at the items included in the auction of Jim Craig’s 1980 Olympics memorabilia.Associated Press

Kevin Paul Dupont’s “On Second Thought” appears regularly in the Sunday Globe Sports section. He can be reached at dupont@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeKPD.