Game 7, The Garden, & Rene

In Uncategorized on May 14, 2009 at 8:06 pm
Rene always sets the tone

Rene always sets the tone

There’s a Game 7 at the Garden tonight, in case you weren’t aware.

There is a live-or-die, win-or-go-home, gut check game happening on Causeway street tonight at 8 and if you have any appreciation of our city’s sports history, then you know what that means. 

Whenever I think of Boston sports from a historical perspective, a litany of images spring to mind: 

The Flutie pass. Pudge’s homer. Dave Roberts. Steal by Bird, underneath to DJ, he lays it in! Bobby Orr captured forever in mid-leap. The Snow Game. Schilling’s bloody sock. Vinatieri’s game winners. Red’s cigar. Rene’s fist pump. 

Rene’s fist pump?

Yeah, Rene Rancourt’s post-anthem fist pump. I know, I know – it’s not a conventional choice, but think about it for a second. Name another guy – other than maybe Red Auerbach – who has had a longer continuous impact on the Boston sports landscape than Rene Rancourt. 

You can’t. 

Sure, Rene certainly stands out like a sore thumb on a list like this: 

Bourque. Neely. Pedro. McHale. Parish. Lynn. Rice. Yaz. Cusick. Russell. Red. Brady. Most. Couz. Heinsohn. Teddy Ballgame. Rene

But the imprint he has left on the local sports scene is undeniable. Rancourt has remained a relevant Boston sports figure for over thirty years!

Can Bird say that? Can Yaz? Can Orr? 

Rene's patented fist pump

Rene's patented fist pump

Now I’m obviously not going to sit here and say that Rene Rancourt has had a bigger impact on Boston sports history than Larry Legend or Bobby freakin’ Orr. What I’m trying to say is that this one guy has been a consistent face in the Boston Garden for a long, long time and that it’s important to at least consider his place in our history. 

So, who really is this velvet crooner who has serenaded us all these years? 

Well, he’s a classically trained opera singer from Maine, it turns out. The 60-something Lewiston native first started singing anthems in Boston at Fenway Park in the early 1970’s. After making a name for himself at the local ball yard, Rancourt was hired in 1976 to sing before Bruins games. He’s been doing it ever since, and is now a household name in homes across New England. 

Rene was made for the Old Garden with its terrible acoustics and airy rafters. Garden Management loved him because his strong voice carried enough to overcome the weak built-in sound system. His classical background meant that his delivery was polished and conservative, with nary a risky, personal flourish. To Rene, the anthem is a timeless American classic, not a pop hit to be interpreted, and he sings it that way. Everytime Rancourt steps on the ice for “The Star-Spangled Banner”, you know what you’re going to get: a boisterous, vaguely operatic rendition capped off by a salute and a pump of the fist. By  now it’s an ingrained tradition, an actual piece of Boston sports history, like the fabled parquet floor or the Green Monster. Rene Rancourt is, unarguably, a Boston Bruins icon. 

So when he steps out on that ice tonight for the Game 7 anthem, all eyes will be on him and he’ll be ready. He’s sung at big games before. In ’75, he was a last minute substitute to sing the anthem before Game 6 of the World Series – yeah, that Game 6. He’s no stranger to drama.

It’s nice to know that Rene will be there again tonight in the New Garden, to serenade us once more before the puck drops in Game 7. It’s always a pleasure when he starts in on the anthem, and he always hits the right notes with that powerful voice. He always does his job as a singer. 

But tonight I’m praying I don’t hear him. That way I’ll know that I’ve done my job as a fan. 

So do me a favor and cue up Dropkick’s “Time To Go,” because 

Rancourt’s ready, it’s time to take the ice

So tie down the jersey ’cause it could get ugly tonight 

Let’s go. Game 7. 


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