This is the best thing Bobby Hull ever gave us. I could give two shits about his team-record 604 goals, 1,153 career points, or status as the first player to ever break the 50 goal mark. Hell, a 1961 Stanley Cup is pretty much worthless to me, too. His son, on the other hand, is one of the greatest goal scorers of all time, and trolls Buffalo like nobody’s business (I bet Brett never missed wide right…) But how can I praise a guy who played much of his career in St. Louis and Detroit, while shoveling shit on his father, whose number is in the rafters at the United Center?
Because Bobby Hull is a wife-beating piece of shit, that’s how.
Hull’s second wife, Joanne, whom he wed in 1960 and divorced in 1980, told an ESPN documentary in 2002 that she “took a real beating” at his hands. She described an incident during which Hull “threw me in the room, and just proceeded to knock the heck out of me. He took my shoe – with a steel heel – and proceeded to hit me in the head. I was covered with blood. And I can remember him holding me over the balcony, and I thought this is the end, I’m going.”
She filed to end the marriage in 1970 after several more incidents, but they reconciled until Hull threatened her with a loaded shotgun in 1978. Their daughter, Michelle, also described his pattern of behavior to “Sports Century,” and she now works as an attorney specializing in domestic violence.
He remarried in 1984, but the incidents of physical abuse continued for new wife Deborah. Hull was arrested in the parking lot of their Willowbrook condominium in 1986 during a violent domestic altercation, and was eventually convicted for taking a swing at an intervening police officer. Willowbrook Police Chief Steven List said “there was evidence he had struck his wife in the face. She had some contusions, some swelling.”
And yet, the Golden Jet’s consistently flushed face shows up on the Jumbotron at more than a few Hawks games a year, and everybody laughs and cheers for Drunk Uncle Bobby while Tony Esposito stands next to him wondering “why in the hell did I do those Binny’s commercials again?” The Blackhawks parade Hull around as a pillar of days gone by, when hockey players were hockey players and men could threaten their wives with shotguns when dinner wasn’t ready on time. When the balcony had more uses than a nice place to relax. When stilettos weren’t for porn stars, but to be used as blunt implements.
Now, in a post-“The Decision” world, leaving your team for money would get you crucified, both by fans and in the press. And Chicago, a city known for a slight inferiority complex (the Second City nickname came from somewhere, you know), would be the first place you’d see burning of jerseys in the street if, say, Jonathan Toews ever bolted to Winnipeg to play for his hometown Jets. But how easy we forget that Hull took a million bucks to go to the city of no parks to play in the WHA, thereby alienating himself from an entire generation of Hawks fans. It’s a damn shame things didn’t stay that way.
But wait, there’s more! In 1998, Hull told a Russian newspaper that, and I’m quoting verbatim here, “Hitler had some good ideas.” Further, Bobby offered no defense when asked if it would be fair to describe him as a racist, saying “I don’t give a damn. I’m not running for political office.”
And yet, here we are in 2014, Bobby Hull holding a title literally meaning a person who represents an organization. And while 99% of Hawks fans are cheering a decrepit old man who last made a real impact on this team in 1961, I’ll be jeering a racist piece of shit who last made an impact on his partner in 1986.