…at the Gretzky trade, courtesy of longtime hockey writer Elliott Teaford, who now covers the Lakers for our paper and several others. We’re glad Elliott didn’t become a hood ornament on Aug. 9, 1988.
Thanks to everyone for the feedback below. If you haven’t included yours yet, please do!
I was on a two-week driving trip in the Pacific Northwest in August of 1988. I had been to Seattle, Mount Rainer, Yakima, the Tri-Cities, Portland and one of the beach towns on the Oregon Coast (Newport? Or maybe it was Florence). Finally, I hunkered down in Eugene for a few days without driving. I went out for an early-morning run in and around a park that hugs the river that cuts through Eugene. I went for about 90 minutes or so (back in the days when I could still run that long and that far). Went back to the hotel room and went back to sleep. Didn’t look at USA Today. Didn’t turn on the television. Awoke around noon. Showered (again) and walked across the street to a McDonalds for lunch. Picked up a Big Mac and grabbed a copy of the Eugene Register-Guard, which turned out to be a day old. Flipped to the sports section as I jogged across the street. Glanced at the stories above the fold. Nothing special. Flipped over the section to see what was below the fold. Gasped. The headline read: “Gretzky traded to L.A.” I screamed: “Holy smokes” (or something like that). Stopped dead in my tracks in the middle of the intersection and was nearly smoked by an 18-wheeler, whose driver barely had time to slam on the brakes and avoid hitting me.
And that’s how Wayne Gretzky nearly got me killed.