Major Indoor Lacrosse League (MILL) Retro Game Of The Week

A big thank you to “GetBenched” on YouTube for the video, and following detailed description…

I’ve gotten requests for this game in the past and here it is, donated by JSap many years ago, this is the 1989 Major Indoor Lacrosse League championship game. This game is between the defending MILL Champions, the New York Saints and the Philadelphia Wings from the Spectrum. Larry Rosen and Penn U coach Tony Seaman are your broadcast team. The entire game, pre game and post game celebrations are featured in this video.

The 1989 MILL Finals is arguably the most important game in pro box lacrosse history for a number of reasons:

1. It was the first year the MILL hooked up with Coors Light, their biggest major sponsor to date and a well attended championship game that went down to the wire was exactly what the league needed at that moment after 2 lacklustre championship games in the previous 2 years.

2. The league had expanded by 2 teams in 1989 and needed a showpiece game to sell the game to these markets and future expansion cities.

3. The 2 previous startup leagues, the USFL and the WBL, (Women’s pro Basketball League,) died after 3 seasons and getting to the 4th season would go a long way towards turning the corner for the league’s longer term survival.

4. This game would be used by the MILL to sell everything from highlight tapes, the game itself in expansion markets, advertisers and TV networks in hopes of landing a TV deal.

This was the Wings first shot at an indoor lacrosse championship since the Original Wings lost in the 1974 NLL Finals. It wouldn’t be even close to the last as they would win 5 more MILL/NLL championships with their last to date coming in 2001.

The Saints had a number of veteran players from the 1988 championship season on their roster including former Wing Vinnie Pfeifer who started in goal in this game. Larry Quinn, then considered the greatest goaltender in lacrosse history, played the second half for the Saints. Don Borges and John Driscoll were the main scorers for them in this game.

The Wings boasted a lineup that fans of the team still consider one of their greatest ever. John Tucker, Tony Resch, Paul French, LOUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU Delligatti, Brad Kotz, Scott Gabrielsen, Coach Dave Evans and of course Kevin Bilger. This lineup would by and large be intact when they won it all again the next year in 1990.

Fast facts:

The Saints never led at any point in the 2 playoff games they played in that year. Their only lead was an overtime winning goal, (in DOUBLE OT,) that knocked the Turbos out in the semi-final game. Yet their +/- in the playoffs was dead even.

This was the first year that the MILL instituted the policy of teams with the higher attendance hosting playoff games. The Saints finished ahead of the Detroit Turbos in the semi-final game but the game was played in Detroit. The MILL would use this policy for the vast majority of their history.

Coach Evans wore a Guns N Roses button on his suit lapel for most of9 the season as Welcome to the Jungle became their theme song during this period.

The MILL would catch on to this and use the song in their advertisements for the next 3 years.

in the 70s. It is a new carpet. Notice that there is no boards underneath it. Yes, it’s DIRECTLY OVER THE ICE and the moisture is everywhere. It made for hazardous footing as did the many strips of the carpet.

They never could agree on the name of the Championship Trophy. Rosen refers to it as the North American Cup on some occasions and the North AmeriCUP on others. Future MILL announcers would do the same thing for years to come.

This was around the time the practice of the PA Announcer calling play by play at all times was in vogue and it is a practice many teams still use in the NLL today. The Major Indoor Soccer League did this as well and personally I’ve never liked that.

Players made $200 per game for 6 game seasons + playoffs back then. A huge paycut compared to the original NLL.

The MILL always claimed this game was a sellout

but it was actually just over 16,000, (over 1000 fans short of a sell out at the Spectrum.) That said, this was a record crowd for the league at that time.

Sit back and enjoy the MILL’s first great championship game!

Gary Groob
Gary Groob

Gary Groob has been involved with Lacrosse for the majority of his life, whether playing, coaching, or covering the sport for the media.

An avid fan, with a real drive about helping to “grow the game”, Gary became part of podcasts about the game in 2010. Through the podcasts, Mr. Groob was given an opportunity to write about lacrosse, and the rest as they say, is history.

Through many miles (flying and driving) Gary has made inroads with the National Lacrosse League, Major Series Lacrosse League, the Ontario Lacrosse Association, as well as the Arena Lacrosse League, covering the leagues, their teams, and players, working for, and in concert with all of them.

In the year 2020, Mr. Groob was made the media person for the Arena Lacrosse League, voted onto the board of directors of the Brampton Excelsiors Lacrosse Club, as well as being made administrator of the Lacrosse page “Global Lacrosse” with a membership of 9000 members in over 90 Countries. Gary was also made an administrator of Lacrosse History Past Present and Future in 2022.

Mr. Groob co-hosts a weekly Lacrosse show on Spanglish Sports World, and ZingoTV channel 250, as well as writes a weekly lacrosse column for La Portada Canada News (both in print, and online).

Gary also hosts a Lacrosse talk show and podcast for The Edge of Philly Sports Network, seen live Sunday nights at 9pm (ET), and archived on the Edge of Philly YouTube page, as well as Spotify.

Mr. Groob’s other sports interests include Hockey, Football, Boxing, Wrestling, and Baseball, competing competitively in Boxing and Wrestling for many years.