NEW YORK — Mike Eruzione's sensational winning goal against the Soviet hockey team at the 1980 Winter Olympics will forever be remembered as the Miracle On Ice — perhaps the greatest sporting moment of the 20th century.
More than a generation later, the 58-year-old Eruzione is parting with his iconic No. 21 USA jersey, hockey stick and other Olympic paraphernalia. Dallas-based Heritage Auctions is selling the items in New York on Feb. 23, the day after the 33rd anniversary of the historic game.
The white jersey alone is expected to fetch more than $1 million, but sports memorabilia experts think it could go considerably higher.
It's history as much as it is sports, said Phil Castinetti, owner of Sportsworld in Saugus, Mass., which bills itself as New England's largest sports memorabilia store.
It was back when the Americans were all amateurs and playing against a professional Soviet team that was supposedly unbeatable. It was the Cold War. ... The Americans were big underdogs. It was a worldwide event that was incredible, Castinetti said.
The auction record for any piece of hockey memorabilia is $1.2 million, set in 2010 for the jersey Paul Henderson wore when he scored the winning goal in the 1972 Summit Series against the Soviets.
Unlike Olympians of today, Eruzione, who was captain of his team in Lake Placid, N.Y., received no lucrative endorsements. But he said he's not hurting financially and is selling the prized items to help out his three adult children and grandson.
I thought this would be a great little nest egg for them for their future with their kids, he said in a telephone interview, adding the memorabilia had languished in his USA hockey bag in the attic of his Winthrop, Mass., home, ever since that memorable day.
Eruzione said the auction proceeds from his collection will also benefit his Winthrop Foundation founded in his hometown, just outside Boston.
The team beat the Soviets 4-3 after Eruzione scored what would be the winning goal with 10 minutes left in the semifinal game. Two days later, the team clinched the gold when it beat Finland. The Soviets won the silver medal.
As long as I'm alive, the gold medal won't be sold, said Eruzione, who is director of special outreach at Boston University and a partner in a nutritional supplement business that includes several other ex-Olympians, including gymnasts Nadia Comaneci and Bart Conner.
The medal is what it's all about, Eruzione said. That's what we played for.