Bill Dorman is stuck on sticks.
Dorman, 47, the owner of Peoples Electric on North Gay Street in downtown Baltimore, has been a hockey fan for 30 years and stick collector for 25. At present he has anywhere between 1,500 and 3,000 hockey sticks hanging from walls, stuck in corners, made into lamps and tables and leaning against walls in his place of business.
He has sticks that were used in games and autographed by Wayne Gretzky, Bobby Clarke, Guy LaFleur, Dennis Potvin, Mark Messier, Kent Douglass, who had the largest and heaviest stick ever used in the NHL, Steve Yzerman, Grant Fuhr and Andy Moag, to mention a few.
The prize pieces of his collection are the stick Stan Mikita used in 1958 and the sticks of the entire 1987, 1988 and 1990 Edmonton Oilers Stanley Cup champions. He also has signed pictures of those teams, plus hundreds of other autographed pictures of hockey players hanging on just about every wall of his store. He also has Dave Creighton's autographed original Baltimore Clippers sweater, plus Gretzky's autographed first Los Angeles Kings sweater.
"I never played hockey as a kid," said Dorman, a big man with a flowing black beard who attends all of the Baltimore Skipjacks home games in his seat behind the goal in the lower concourse. "I played baseball and football in high school and on the sandlots, but no hockey. Someone gave me a ticket to Baltimore Clippers game in 1962, and I loved the sport. I had season tickets until 1976, when the World League [Baltimore Blades of the World Hockey Association] came in and then I stopped going. I bought myself a satellite dish and watched my hockey that way. Three years ago I decided to go back, and I've been to just about every Skipjacks home game since then."
Dorman said he started his collection by getting sticks at hockey games, and then he began going to trading shows all over the northeastern United States and in Canada. He either trades or buys the majority of his sticks now.
"I put ads in newspapers and magazines for sticks, and some people just stop by the store and give me old sticks," Dorman said. "Stick collecting, just like baseball card collecting, is a big business today."
Dorman's collection is the biggest in Maryland and probably the biggest in the Middle Atlantic states, but "there is a guy in Canada who has the biggest collection, about 6,000 sticks, and there are guys in New York and Washington state, who have the biggest collections in the U.S., about 5,000 sticks."
Over the years, Dorman has seen hundreds of good hockey players who performed for the Clippers and Skipjacks and against them. The top Baltimore players in his mind were Jean Ratelle, Doug Harvey, Douglass, Andy Brown, Sandy McGregor, Bob Rivard, Marc Dufour, Howie Menard, Noel Price, Bob Plager, Jimmy Bartlett, Red Armstrong, Hilliard Graves, Brian Murphy and Aldo Guidolin. The best coach was Terry Reardon, "he was Mr. Hockey in Baltimore, he started the game here and made it go." His choice for top trainer is Ray "Gump" Embro, "he's the kind of guy who made hockey great. He loved hockey and worked at making it a great sport."
Dorman said he can't compare the Clippers teams of yesteryear and today's Skipjacks teams. "It's a different game today. The kids are smarter, bigger, better paid and better conditioned than the players in the past. The old Clipper teams had more talent, but they weren't educated like the players of today. It was a different game back then and different lifestyle. But those old guys gave us a lot of great memories, and memories are something that nobody can take away from you.
"I love watching the Skipjacks. Where else can you go and be entertained for three hours, meet nice people and enjoy youself for $5?"
* Milestones: Buffalo's Dave Andreychuk scored his 300th NHL goal and Los Angeles' Tony Granato scored his 100th NHL goal. Minnesota's Bobby Smith and Winnipeg's Randy Carlyle each played in his 1,000th NHL game.