The second week in April has for the last decade signified no sports events at all for the traditionally beleaguered fans of Boston and the outlying New England countryside. The Celtics, Boston's entry in the National Basketball Association, had annually disbanded by that time, never quite succeeding in reaching the final round of the league playoffs despite their unrivaled roster of high-scoring stars. The Bruins, Boston's entry in the National Hockey League, did make their way to the final round of the Stanley Cup playoffs in 1953, but with that one faint exception, by the second week of April they, too, were through and waiting till next year. And so with the Red Sox still not arrived at Fenway Park to inaugurate another soul-searing chapter in the golden annals of frustration, things invariably were very quiet indeed in that rarefied sector where, since time immemorial, the Lowells speak only to the Cabots and Ted Williams speaks only to out-of-town sportswriters.
This April the situation underwent a drastic and dramatic change—or metamorphosis, as they say in "the Athens of America." Boston's teams had reached the final round of both the hockey and basketball championship playoffs. The upstart Bruins, responding to Coach Milt Schmidt's unsubduable spirit, had startled the hockey world by eliminating the league champion Detroit Red Wings, four games to one, in the semifinal playoff round and were battling the Montreal Canadiens in the climactic best-four-out-of-seven series. As for the Celtics, they had warmed up by eliminating the Syracuse Nationals and were already deeply entrenched in a bruising best-four-out-of-seven final with the surprisingly tough St. Louis Hawks. On Tuesday, April 9, with the Bruins in Montreal for the second game against Les Canadiens and the Celtics back in Boston Garden for their fifth game with the Hawks, it was still a little hard for the Boston fans to believe that they were suddenly residents of the "winter capital of sports," but there it was in black and white on every sports page—in the Boston Herald, for example:
KEY PLAYOFFS TONIGHT
CELTICS AIM TO TAKE LEAD
BRUINS SEEK TO EVEN SERIES
Though all of New England was relishing this finest April in years, no doubt the person who was enjoying it the most was Walter A. Brown, an extremely genuine and remarkably patient basketball and hockey fan who is also the president (and for all intents and purposes, the owner as well) of the Bruins, the Celtics and the Boston Garden. A reasonable man, Mr. Brown was hopeful that Boston would emerge with one of the two championships—both championships would be marvelous, of course, but common sense suggested being thankful for one. Of the two teams, the Celtics unquestionably had the better chance. It would be almost too much to expect the Bruins to have enough fire and stamina left to stay with the Flying Frenchmen.
Last Saturday, in the seventh and deciding game with the Hawks, the Celtics at length and at last pulled out the victory after two almost intolerably tense and turbulent overtime periods. On Sunday night, three games down to Les Canadiens, the Bruins made one last gallant effort to stay alive, and did with a 2-0 victory. However, it would take a minor miracle for the Bruins to win the next three games, and it looked for all the world as if Mr. Brown, Boston and New England would have to settle for their one championship.