The Wonder Year: How 1971 Left Its Mark on a Philly Sports Fan

Four decades may seem like a long time. But to 93.3 WMMR's Kevin Gunn of Havertown, 1971 feels like yesterday.



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I used to feel sorry for people who’d begin stories with something like “Forty years ago,” before regaling us with tales of the dark ages. But a funny thing happened between the rolling eyes and the snickers: Time passed. And now, here I am with a tale to tell about 1971, a year of major developments in my life and that of my hometown. Here are a few snippets:

March 8: Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier—you had to be for one or the other. As an eighth-grader at St. Denis in Havertown, I was firmly in the Frazier camp, mostly because my dad sided with Smokin’ Joe. We stayed up late that night, getting our round-by-round recaps on the radio.

March 21: We all went to the airport to greet the Villanova University men’s basketball team after they dismantled Big Five rival Penn in the NCAA Regional Finals in Raleigh, N.C. The next week, my dad told the nuns at St. Denis that I had to leave school early to attend a family function—i.e. the semifinal game against Western Kentucky in Houston. 

April 10: The Phillies cracked the seal on Veterans Stadium, beating the Montreal Expos. I met Harry Kalas for the first time. Our friendship would last 38 years.
 

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