By HOWARD BERGER
TORONTO (Sep. 14) – If at any point during my youth someone had told me that Angelo Mosca and Dave Raimey would one day pose together in a friendly environment, I’d have had that person committed. Mosca and Raimey were two of the best players in the Canadian Football League during the 1960s and early-’70s… always on opposite sides of the line of scrimmage.
But, earlier today, there they were – Mosca, now 74 and Raimey, 70 – embracing and mugging for cameras at a reception to launch Mosca’s autobiography – TELL ME TO MY FACE – written with long-time Hamilton Spectator columnist Steve Milton. More than 50 friends and media figures attended the noon-hour event at the Real Sports Bar & Grill across from the Air Canada Centre. CFL commissioner Mark Cohon was on hand along with Tiger-Cats owner Bob Young and president Scott Mitchell. A special guest was former Canadian heavyweight boxing champion George Chuvalo, who twice went the distance with Muhammad Ali. In the ’60s, Mosca, Raimey and Chuvalo were among the most prominent sports names in our country.
COVER OF ANGELO MOSCA’S NEW BOOK (ABOVE), CO-WRITTEN WITH STEVE MILTON OF THE HAMILTON SPECTATOR, AND OFFICIALLY LAUNCHED EARLIER TODAY AT A RECEPTION HERE IN TOWN.
Raimey, from Dayton Ohio, was the most electrifying runner in Canada with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers; Mosca, the CFL’s most feared and reviled defensive tackle with the vaunted Hamilton Tiger-Cats. They faced one another in the 1965 Grey Cup game at CNE Stadium… still referred to as the “Wind Bowl” as 60 kilometer-an-hour gusts blew in off Lake Ontario. Hamilton won the game, 22-16: the victory margin produced – as it turned out – by a trio of safety-touches conceded by Winnipeg coach Bud Grant with his club pinned deep against the wind.
It was in 1969 and 1970, however, that I best remember the Raimey-Mosca rivalry. In a stunning move, Winnipeg traded Raimey to the Toronto Argonauts for quarterback Wally Gabler early in the ’69 season. The Argonauts, Tiger-Cats and Ottawa Rough Riders were waging a furious struggle for top spot in the Eastern Conference and Raimey looked as if he might be the deciding factor. In his first home game with the Argos (Sep. 7, 1969), Raimey ran wild against the Saskatchewan Roughriders – galloping for more than 160 yards in a 34-15 romp over the best team in the West. Five weeks later – with Ottawa, Toronto and Hamilton still vying for top spot – the Argos and Tiger-Cats squared off in a home-and-home series. Toronto prevailed, 17-7, in a defensive struggle at Civic Stadium and then destroyed the Tiger-Cats, 51-8, six days later at the CNE.
During that lop-sided encounter, Raimey took a pitch-out from quarterback Tom Wilkinson and tried to cut back inside against Mosca, who clipped him in the leg. Raimey fell to the grass with a torn knee ligament and did not play again that season. The Argos squeaked past Hamilton, 15-9, in the East semifinal at CNE Stadium but lost to first-place Ottawa in a two-game, total points final.
ON THE COVER OF A BOOK WRITTEN IN 1970 BY EX-CFL QUARTERBACK FRANK COSENTINO (ABOVE), DAVE RAIMEY (14) IS PICTURED RUNNING AGAINST SASKATCHEWAN IN HIS FIRST HOME GAME AS AN ARGO, SEP. 7, 1969. RAIMEY LOOKED UNSTOPPABLE IN DOUBLE-BLUE UNTIL MOSCA NAILED HIM WITH A LEG TACKLE AT CNE STADIUM ON OCT. 19, ENDING RAIMEY’S SEASON WITH A TORN KNEE LIGAMENT, AND PUTTING A DAMPER ON THE ARGOS 51-8 ROMP.
Mosca, a terrific story-teller, remains one of the most colorful sports figures in Canada nearly 40 years after playing his final game with the Tiger-Cats: a last-play conquest of Saskatchewan in the 1972 Grey Cup on home turf at Ivor Wynne Stadium. He retired from football to concentrate, full-time, on his other pursuit as a heel in professional wrestling, where he was known as King Kong Mosca. Steve Milton is among the most learned and respected sports columnists in the country – having cut his teeth in the 1970s and early-’80s at the Orillia Packet & Times before moving to the Spectator, where he covered the Toronto Blue Jays – home and away – during their exciting years in the late-’80s, leading to the club’s consecutive World Series titles in 1992 and 1993.
TELL ME TO MY FACE is all Mosca: revealing, bare-faced and to the point… critics be damned. The 239-page trade-paperback features a stunning admission by Mosca: he is part-black. His mother was part African-American; his father – Angelo Mosca Sr. – was from Syracusa, Sicily and quite the racist, according to his athlete-son, who therefore wanted no part of either parents’ identity. The first two sentences of Chapter One (entitled Secret Shame) spell it out – typically and graphically. “My father was not a good man,” Angie writes. “In fact, to be honest with you, he was a mean fucking man – a real prick.” If the reader has any reservation about Mosca telling the story his way, the feeling disappears on Page 1.
It’s a quick, enjoyable read; the legacy of one of Canada’s most renowned professional athletes.
Please enjoy my photos from today’s book-launch reception.
IT WAS A BEAUTIFUL, LATE-SUMMER AFTERNOON HERE IN TOWN TODAY AS ANGELO MOSCA AND FRIENDS GATHERED AT THE REAL SPORTS BAR & GRILL BEHIND THE AIR CANADA CENTRE.
WHAT A COUPLE OF MUGS THESE ARE: MOSCA (LEFT) AND HIS LONG-TIME PAL, FORMER CANADIAN HEAVYWEIGHT BOXING CHAMPION GEORGE CHUVALO, BEST REMEMBERED FOR GOING THE DISTANCE AGAINST MUHAMMAD ALI IN 1966 (MAPLE LEAF GARDENS) AND 1972 (PACIFIC COLISEUM, VANCOUVER).
IT WAS A PERSONAL HONOR TO CHAT WITH DAVE RAIMEY (ABOVE) – THE CFL’s MOST ELECTRIFYING RUNNER OF THE 1960s AND A BOYHOOD HERO WITH THE TORONTO ARGONAUTS FROM 1969-74. RAIMEY SWITCHED TO DEFENSIVE CORNERBACK IN ’71 UNDER ARGONAUTS COACH LEO CAHILL.
DAVE RAIMEY AND ANGELO MOSCA WERE FIERCE RIVALS WITH THE TORONTO ARGONAUTS AND HAMILTON TIGER-CATS… PICTURED HERE IN THEIR FOOTBALL CARDS FROM 1970 (ABOVE) AND 1971 (BELOW).
MORE THAN FOUR DECADES AFTER SQUARING OFF ON THE FOOTBALL FIELD, RAIMEY AND MOSCA – NOW IN THEIR EARLY-70s – ARE GREAT PALS.
MOSCA AND RAIMEY WERE BOTH FEATURED IN THE OCTOBER 1970 EDITION OF CANADIAN FOOTBALL NEWS (ABOVE AND BELOW): A MONTHLY MAGAZINE PRODUCED IN THAT ERA BY THE PUBLISHERS OF THE HOCKEY NEWS.
ANGELO MOSCA CHATS (ABOVE) WITH CFL COMMISSIONER MARK COHON PRIOR TO THIS AFTERNOON’S BOOK-LAUNCH RECEPTION DOWNTOWN.
SEATED LEFT TO RIGHT DURING FORMAL PRESENTATION TODAY WERE TIGER-CATS’ OWNER BOB YOUNG, MOSCA, AND HAMILTON SPECTATOR COLUMNIST STEVE MILTON, WHO CO-AUTHORED TELL ME TO MY FACE.
MOSCA AND STEVE MILTON SHARE A LAUGH WHILE DISCUSSING THEIR NEW BOOK.
BIG ANGIE CAN SPIN A YARN WITH THE BEST OF THEM.