March 12, 2010

Then there was the time

— SOUTH PORTLAND — The faded stain, just below the V-neckline on the Maine Mariners hockey sweater, seemed to be dried blood. Thirty-year-old blood.

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Whether it’s a puck from a Bruins game, a stick used by Wayne Gretzky or a sweater worn by a Maine Mariner (think Portland Pirates of a couple of decades ago), Tom Bore of South Portland has it. And now, with a planned move to Florida, the time has come to let it go.

John Ewing/Staff Photographer

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Jim Beattie and Billy Swift have their names on the same baseball – two South Portland kids who reached the big time.

John Ewing/Staff Photographer

Additional Photos Below

''It could be,'' said Tom Bore, looking more closely at a piece of Portland sports history hanging from a clothesline in his basement. ''This was Paul Evans' jersey. The Crow. He bled a little.''

Bore stepped back, surrounded by stacks of hockey pucks, and boxes of baseball and hockey cards. Bobbleheads stood like sentinels on a shelf. A hockey stick was propped up by a card table, the name W. Gretzky printed on its shaft.

The Edmonton Oilers had come east to Halifax to play their AHL affiliate some 20 years earlier. As Wayne Gretzky left the ice, he handed his stick to the penalty box attendant, who was related to Bore.

''Look at all this stuff,'' said Bore. ''How am I going to get rid of it all?''

Fifty years of collecting the mundane and the special of sports memorabilia, much of it linked to Maine, needs to be dispersed over the next few months. Tom and Diane Bore, who moved into their South Portland neighborhood in 1972, are selling their ranch home and leaving for Florida.

''Look at this,'' said Bore, pointing to another box. Inside were Thanksgiving Day programs from every Deering-Portland football game dating to about 1957 when Bore was a student at King Middle School in Portland. ''I guess you can say that was my start.''

He could never stop. His wife enabled his addiction to stuff. Diane never had to wonder what to get Tom for birthdays, anniversaries or holidays. He opened his wallet more times than he wants to remember.

Model race cars marking Ricky Craven's NASCAR career from the Kodiak car at the start to the Tide car at the end. Autographed plaques, one from former Patriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe. A miniature Houston Texans helmet signed by former Portland High quarterback Quinton Porter. A book, ''Bobby Orr and the Big Bad Bruins'' autographed by Orr.

Enlarged frame photos, including one of University of Maine captain Jimmy Montgomery kissing the NCAA championship plaque after the Black Bears beat Lake Superior State that night in 1993 in Milwaukee. Bore points to a face in the crowd. It's him.

A coffee mug, one of many, remembering the Boston Bolts soccer team and a ceramic beer mug, also one of many, remembering the 1973-74 Boston Celtics. Shot glasses and old-fashioned glasses. Key chains. Ticket stubs by the hundreds.

He was a senior computer operator for UNUM, she worked in the accounting department at Key Bank. In recent years, if you went to an event on Portland city property, from the Expo and the Merrill Auditorium to Portland's high schools, you probably saw them helping manage the crowds.

''We love people,'' said Diane Bore. ''All that we collected was to remind us of people.''

Which is why she nearly cried when they donated a hockey stick with the autographs of the 1977 Maine Mariners to a Portland Pirates booster group to auction. She and Tom never had children. Many of the Mariners had dinner at their home.

Hockey players, they discovered, seemed more at ease with fans. ''Who else takes off their shoes before they come into your house?'' asked Diane.

She and Tom befriended Pelle Lindbergh, the goalie from Sweden who signed with the Philadelphia Flyers. He played most of two seasons with the Mariners in 1981-82. Three years later he died after a car crash. A Philadelphia media outlet called Diane Bore after he was found in his crumpled Porsche.

''I went on and on about what a great guy and a friend he was and then they told me he was on life support. I lost it right there.''

Lindbergh's father later gave Diane a miniature Swedish flag that Lindbergh had with him at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, N.Y. ''That's coming with us to Florida.''

A University of Maine hockey sweater worn by Eric Fenton probably will remain in South Portland. Tom Bore outbid Eric Fenton's father, Bill, at a silent auction following the 1993 Maine championship season. The Fenton family lives a few miles away.

Evans' sweater may find its way back to him. The former pro player and Portland High coach is now a hockey consultant and USM assistant coach. Maybe he'll remember what caused the stain.

Tonight, Tom and Diane head to the Colisee in Lewiston to watch the Maineiacs one last time. They cheered for the Maine Nordiques in the same arena nearly 30 years ago.

You might see Tom Bore at the souvenir stand. Just looking.

Staff Writer Steve Solloway can be can be contacted at 791-6412 or at:

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Additional Photos

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And of course there are the books, some of them autographed. Hockey, basketball, baseball. Just name it.

John Ewing/Staff Photographer


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