Categories:
Home > 2008/05/16 > The WHA
Thank you for visiting our past auction results. If you have an item identical (or similar) to this auction lot, please contact us to discuss consigning.
1978 Peter Marrin Birmingham Bulls Game Worn Jersey
Lot #52

 Mail this auction to a friend!
Watch this item! 
1978 Peter Marrin Birmingham Bulls Game Worn Jersey
Click any image for full-size
IMAGES
Description
1978 Peter Marrin Birmingham Bulls Game Worn Jersey
Lot #52

The Ottawa Nationals were an original WHA franchise. Doug Michel would be the team’s first owner, but it would take bringing on a well funded co-owner to keep the franchise alive before they had even played a game. In May of 1972 Mick Trbovich became the co-owner that the team needed. Now amply funded, but short on time, Michel set out to build a franchise with only months to go before play would commense. After failing to strike a deal with Howard Ballard to use Maple Leaf Gardens, Michel would settle on the Ottawa Civic Center, a small 10,000 seat arena that played home to the junior 67’s. Because the National’s had such a limited amount of time to procure a roster, they didn’t wind up with a bunch of name players as some of their competition did.

Billy Harris was the team’s coach and behind the leadership of Wayne Carleton among others the team made the Eastern Division playoffs. The major problem that arose for the franchise was that the city of Ottawa demanded a $100,000 payment prior to the playoffs beginning to secure the Civic Center thru the next season. Playing their home playoff games in Ottawa would be contingent on this payment, which the owners ultimately decided against. Instead, they chose to negotiate a deal to play their playoff games in Toronto. Maple Leaf Gardens did play host to the 2 home playoff games that the Nationals played that season. Drawing crowds of 5,000 were quite good by Ottawa standards and it wasn’t long before Michel and Trbovich sold the franchise to John Bassett Jr. who headed a group of 20+ investors and renamed the new Toronto franchise the Toros.

Despite playing their playoff games at the Gardens, the Toros were forced to play their 1973-74 home games in front of fans at a small university rink named the Varsity Arena. They were able to get playing dates at the Gardens for 1974-75 and 1975-76. Under new ownership, and playing in hockey mecca Toronto, the team was able to secure players such as Frank Mahovlich and Czech defector Vaclav Nedomansky. Toronto became an offensive force during the 1973-74 and 1974-75 seasons, finishing 2nd both seasons but lacking any real playoff success. Hockey fans in Toronto embraced the team for those two seasons as attendance averaged 10,000 per game. 1975-76 saw the club finish with a horrible 24-52-4 record and attendance dipped. Owner Bassett decided it wise to relocate the franchise and on June 30th of 1976, the Toros were no more.

The new city was Birmingham in the state of Alabama and the new team name was now the Birmingham Bulls. Bassett began targeting teenagers as a way to bolster his team and thus the nickname the Baby Bulls was born. Youngsters such as Mark Napier, Michel Goulet, Rod Langway, Rob Ramage, Pat Riggin and Rick Vaive were all signed up under the aggressive Bassett. The Bulls, while exciting offensively each season, would never find playoff success. They were able to field a team for the league’s final 3 years making them one of only five original franchises to survive the entire 7 years of the WHA.

This home white mesh gamer by Russell Athletic was worn by Peter Marrin during the 1978 WHA season. Marrin spent his entire career as a member of the Toros/Bulls franchise. He began with Toronto in 1973-74 and completed his professional career with the Bulls in 1978-79. The 1977-78 season was a career best for Marrin where he tabbed 28 goals and 71 points in 80 games played with Birmingham.

This heavy mesh gamer is tagged by Russell Athletic in the neck. Though preserved in fantastic condition, there remain stick marks, board burns, board paint transfer and heavy inner pilling. A treat worthy of mention is the all original nameplate with sewn-on letters which rests high between the shoulders on back. Solid example from a bygone era.