What a Great, Great Story

Gol, gol, golgolgolgol

Gol, gol, golgolgolgol

And, this is coming from a guy for whom a repetitive “great” score is rarely-to-never given out. But, in Sports Illustrated this week, Alexander Wolff (and Joshua Robinson) have a story that, quite frankly, stunned me. It’s about Joe Gaetjens, the dude who scored the lone goal in America’s 1-0 defeat of England in the 1950 World Cup.
It’s not so much the goal itself (flukey, but legit) or the behemoth-ness of the upset (superflukey, but legit). It’s how Gaetjens just disappeared under a Papa Doc Duvalier people purge.

After pressure from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, among others, an answer finally came in early 1972: The Haitian government confirmed to the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince that Joe Gaetjens had died.
But when and how remain a mystery. Indeed, from the moment that ball struck the back of the English net, it’s as if a multinational conspiracy had been joined to obscure or distort the man who sent it there. The wire report the day after the match credited the U.S. goal to Gaetjens’s teammate Ed Souza. Eduardo Galeano, in his 1995 classic, Soccer in Sun and Shadow, called the goal “the work … of a black Haitian center forward named Larry Gaetjens,” although Gaetjens was neither Larry nor black, but a milat, a member of the light-skinned social elite. The 2005 feature film about the 1950 World Cup team, The Game of Their Lives, makes Gaetjens out to be a voodooist, when in fact he was raised Catholic and remained a weekly communicant until he disappeared. And today, if you go to waitingforgaetjens.com, the home page for Greg Lalas’s podcast commentaries on U.S. soccer, and click on Who Is Joe Gaetjens?, you’re greeted by the message, “Coming soon.” Gaetjens as Godot.

You need to read it for yourself, and not just because America 2010 won’t knock England off if they play anywhere like they played against the Netherlands last night.

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