RE-POST: My “Stuff” – Lots of It

***PRIOR TO LAST HOCKEY SEASON AND DEVELOPMENT OF MY WEB-SITE, I POSTED A NUMBER OF BLOGS PERTAINING TO MY COLLECTION OF SPORTS AND NEWS PUBLICATIONS. I’VE HAD SEVERAL REQUESTS TO RE-POST ON THIS SITE, AND I’M HAPPY TO SHARE MY INITIAL ONE WITH YOU***

By HOWARD BERGER

TORONTO (Aug. 31, 2011) – During my tenure covering the Maple Leafs for THE FAN-590, I often made mention (and was asked) about my large collection of published memorabilia relating to hockey, baseball, football and world events. Though I’ve been accused of “hoarding”, the popular television show dedicated to such individuals would never use me as a subject, given the general organization and storage of my material: either stacked in labelled boxes or bound in book form (which is really neat, and preserves the quality of aging magazines).

Since returning from summer break in Los Angeles last week, I’ve spent time going through the collection and choosing the bulk of my most coveted items. With the help of my trusty Nikon Coolpix camera (and a dark background), the images are displayed below in Part One of a series. Please enjoy.

NHL MEDIA GUIDES

These annual items – rarely published anymore in the digital Internet era – comprise the biggest part of my collection. Dating to the 1959-60 season, I have more than 1,000 NHL media guides, including all the Maple Leafs have published since 1962-63. Most teams currently provide media-guide information to reporters on a compact-disc; only a few clubs (those than can market and sell the items – Leafs among them) still produce hard copies. My collection was greatly enhanced, more than 25 years ago, by Stan Obodiac, who handled public relations for Maple Leaf Gardens from 1958 until 1983, whereupon he was diagnosed with cancer. After a brave struggle, Stan passed away in 1984 but during his illness, he generously offered me his large stack of media guides – some of which he hadn’t used or looked at in more than a decade, owing to thick blankets of dust covering the items in his office. You’ll easily notice the guides Stan gave me, for they bear his signature on the cover. Most of my other guides were either purchased at Gardens’ souvenir stands during the ’60s and ’70s, or collected at memorabilia shows since the mid-’80s. Though I didn’t realize it at the time, the souvenir-stand items were classic Harold Ballard. The Leafs’ owner would instruct Obodiac to order dozens of guides from all NHL teams for the club’s public relations office. He’d give two or three of each to Obodiac and then distribute the left-overs to the souvenir vendors for sale during Leaf games (they cost $1.00 apiece). As with any collectible (particularly sports cards or published material), original items are the most coveted and – potentially – the most marketable. Many such items are displayed here. 

DAVE KEON (ABOVE) ADORNS COVER OF THE LEAFS MEDIA GUIDE DURING SEASON IN WHICH THE CLUB WON ITS LAST STANLEY CUP CHAMPIONSHIP: CANADA’S CENTENNIAL YEAR.

BOBBY ORR (ABOVE) APPEARED ON COVER OF THE BRUINS MEDIA GUIDE FOR THE FIRST TIME IN 1967-68, THE SEASON THE NHL EXPANDED FROM SIX TO 12 TEAMS.

JEAN BELIVEAU (ABOVE) CARRIES THE 1965 STANLEY CUP (MONTREAL DEFEATED CHICAGO IN SEVEN GAMES) ON COVER OF THE CANADIENS MEDIA GUIDE THE FOLLOWING SEASON: 1965-66.

IN THE 1960s, NEW YORK RANGERS CALLED THEIR MEDIA GUIDE THE “BLUE BOOK”. THE 1965-66 EDITION (ABOVE) FEATURES DEFENSEMAN HARRY HOWELL KEEPING EYE ON CHICAGO’S STAN MIKITA. 

EXPANSION/RE-LOCATED TEAMS

Beginning in 1967 and continuing through this summer, the NHL has periodically added franchises through expansion and re-location. Pictured below are first-year media guides of all teams that joined the NHL in the ’60s and ’70s, as well as a couple of others.

1967-68

This was the season the NHL finally broke from its quarter-century alignment of six teams (Boston, Chicago, Detroit, New York, Montreal, Toronto) – undertaking the most ambitious expansion project in pro sport history by doubling in size. Welcomed into the league were the Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota North Stars, Oakland Seals (originally named California Seals), Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins and St. Louis Blues. Here are the original media guides of all six expansion clubs. 

LOS ANGELES KINGS KEPT IT SIMPLE IN YEAR ONE: POSTING HEAD SHOTS OF PLAYERS ON THE FRONT AND BACK COVER. MOST NOTABLE IS SMACK IN THE MIDDLE (ABOVE): TERRY SAWCHUK, THE HALL OF FAME GOALIE SELECTED FROM TORONTO IN THE 1967 EXPANSION DRAFT.

MINNESOTA ADORNED ITS INAUGURAL MEDIA GUIDE (ABOVE) WITH THE NEW FRANCHISE LOGO. PROFILED ON PAGES 38 AND 39 (BELOW) WAS FORWARD BILL MASTERTON – SOON TO BECOME THE MOST TRAGIC FIGURE – TO THIS POINT – IN NHL HISTORY. MASTERTON SCORED THE FIRST GOAL IN NORTH STARS HISTORY BUT DIED MIDWAY THROUGH THE SEASON (JAN. 15, 1968) AFTER SUFFERING A BRAIN HEMORRHAGE WHEN THE BACK OF HIS HEAD STRUCK THE ICE AT THE METROPOLITAN SPORTS CENTER. THE INJURY OCCURRED TWO NIGHTS EARLIER (JAN. 13) IN A GAME BETWEEN THE NORTH STARS AND CALIFORNIA SEALS. MASTERTON REMAINS – SOMEWHAT PERILOUSLY – THE ONLY PLAYER IN LEAGUE ANNALS TO DIE AS THE RESULT OF A MISHAP DURING A GAME. HE IS COMMEMORATED EACH YEAR BY A TROPHY RECOGNIZING PERSEVERANCE AND DEDICATION.

THE SEALS PUBLISHED THEIR MEDIA GUIDE (ABOVE) MIDWAY THROUGH THE FIRST SEASON, AFTER CHANGING THEIR LOCATION IDENTITY FROM “CALIFORNIA” TO “OAKLAND” IN A QUEST TO DRAW MORE FANS TO THE CITY ACROSS SAN FRANCISCO BAY. THE PLOY DIDN’T WORK.

 

IT’S DIFFICULT TO IMAGINE THE COVER OF THE FLYERS INITIAL MEDIA GUIDE (ABOVE) RESULTING FROM HOURS OF BACK-ROOM MEETINGS. SIMPLE IT WAS; IMAGINATIVE NOT.

CONVERSELY, THE PITTSBURGH PENGUINS POSTED AN EXCEPTIONAL DESIGN ON THE COVER OF THEIR FIRST GUIDE (ABOVE): ALL 12 NHL LOGOS; CARICATURES OF THE COACH AND NEW UNIFORM PITTSBURGH PUBLISHED ITS MEDIA GUIDE MIDWAY THROUGH THE SEASON, ALLOWING FOR A PHOTO (ON THE INSIDE FRONT-COVER, BELOW) FROM THE CLUB’S FIRST-EVER GAME – AT HOME TO MONTREAL, OCT. 11, 1967. PLAYERS IN PHOTO INCLUDE HENRI RICHARD AND GILLES TREMBLAY (21) OF THE CANADIENS; VAL FONTEYNE (8); LEO BOIVIN (2) AND GOALIE HANK BASSEN OF THE PENGUINS.

ST. LOUIS ALSO DESIGNED A NEAT COVER FOR YEAR ONE (ABOVE): PLAYERS RON STEWART, LARRY KEENAN, RON SCHOCK, JIM ROBERTS, DON McKENNEY AND (GOALIE) SETH MARTIN PICTURED WITHIN AN OUTLINE OF THE FRANCHISE LOGO. WHY MARTIN APPEARS ON THE COVER INSTEAD OF FUTURE HALL-OF-FAMER GLENN HALL (SELECTED BY THE BLUES FROM CHICAGO) IS A DEEP MYSTERY. HOW ‘BOUT THE MYSTERY OF THE YOUNG DEFENSEMAN (BELOW) THAT TRIED OUT FOR THE BLUES BUT WAS ULTIMATELY RELEASED? HE LATER BECAME RATHER WELL-KNOWN IN THESE PARTS.

1970-71

Round Two of expansion welcomed Buffalo and Vancouver to the NHL. Vancouver had been a finalist for the 1967 lot of teams and was deeply disappointed to be overlooked, complaining that a Canadian-based club should have been included. The city was quickly added in 1970. 

THERE WAS NO MISTAKING WHICH TEAM THE ABOVE MEDIA GUIDE REPRESENTED, THOUGH THE SABRES’ ART AND DESIGN CREW MUST HAVE BEEN ROOKIES. THE ‘f’-‘b’ CONNECTION IS KIND OF NEAT.

VANCOUVER’S HOCKEY-STICK-IN-A-RINK LOGO WAS HARDLY THE STUFF OF LEGEND WHEN IT DEBUTED IN 1970 THOUGH – LIKE MOST ORIGINAL MATERIAL – IT HAS GAINED THROWBACK VALUE. THE CANUCKS FIRST MEDIA GUIDE (ABOVE) FEATURED AN ARTSY PHOTO FROM THE CLUB’S OPENING GAME (LOS ANGELES AT VANCOUVER, FRI. OCT. 9, 1970): CAPTAIN ORLAND KURTENBACH STRUGGLING WITH DEFENSEMAN DALE HOGANSON WHILE GOALIE DENIS DEJORDY JUGGLES THE PUCK.

1972-73

With the rival World Hockey Association making loud noises about adding a second New York team and a club in the deep south, the NHL beat it to the punch with its third round of expansion: welcoming the Atlanta Flames and New York Islanders in 1972, thus occupying the new Nassau Veterans Coliseum in Uniondale N.Y. Within seven years, that arena would become a hub of playoff activity.

THOUGH ATLANTA DID NOT HAVE BLACK IN ITS UNIFORM (CLUB COLORS WERE RED, GOLD AND WHITE), IT FORMED THE BACK-DROP TO THE FLAMES NEAT, SIMPLE MEDIA GUIDE COVER.

THE NEW YORK ISLANDERS LOGO WOULD BECOME SYNONYMOUS WITH HOCKEY GREATNESS, BUT IT REPRESENTED (ON COVER OF THE INITIAL MEDIA GUIDE, ABOVE) THE WORST EXPANSION TEAM IN NHL HISTORY TO THAT POINT: A 12-60-8 RECORD IN 1972-73.

1974-75

Round four of NHL expansion had all the appearance of a double-disaster. Kansas City and Washington joined the league in 1974-75 and won a combined 23 of 160 games. The Scouts were 15-54-11 but looked like champions compared to the Capitals, who set futility marks that exist to this day with an 8-67-5 ledger. Eight wins is still the fewest by any club in a minimum 70-game schedule. And Washington’s goals-against total (446) may never be eclipsed (Detroit came closest with 415 in 1985-86). Ironically, the number 446 is also the record for most goals scored in one season: Edmonton Oilers of 1983-84. 

MAYBE THE SCOUTS HAD A PREMONITION OF HOW BAD THEY WOULD BE, FOR NOWHERE ON THE COVER OF THE CLUB’S INITIAL MEDIA GUIDE (ABOVE) ARE THE WORDS “KANSAS CITY.”

ON MANY NIGHTS IN THEIR PAINFUL FIRST SEASON, THE CAPITALS MAY HAVE PERFORMED JUST AS WELL HAD THEY KEPT THEIR JERSEYS AND GEAR IN STORAGE (AS ABOVE). GOALIE RON LOW WAS THE UNFORTUNATE SOUL THAT PLAYED THE MAJORITY OF GAMES FOR THE INFANT CAPITALS – COMPILING A 5.45 AVERAGE IN 48 APPEARANCES. “THAT’S THE YEAR I STARTED SMOKING,” RON ONCE TOLD ME.

1976-77

A major city (Denver) and a small-town village (Richfield OH) became NHL homes in October 1976 but neither as a result of expansion. The Colorado Rockies and Cleveland Barons were re-location franchises. After another horrific season in Kansas City (12-56-12), the Scouts pulled stakes and headed west. Meanwhile, the always-in-flux California Seals finally gave up on Oakland after nine seasons and moved to the mammoth Richfield Coliseum – a 20,000-seat facility located between Cleveland and Akron. 

THE NEW DENVER-BASED CLUB MAINTAINED THE COLOR SCHEME OF ITS KANSAS CITY FORERUNNER (BLUE, RED, GOLD AND WHITE) AND DESIGNED AN ALPINE-TYPE LOGO (ABOVE) WITH THE COLORADO STATE INSIGNIA IN THE MIDDLE.

THE BARONS MADE A CLEAN BREAK FROM OAKLAND, ADOPTING RED AND BLACK AS COLORS WHILE ENSURING (ON MEDIA GUIDE COVER ABOVE) THAT EVERYONE KNEW THIS WAS A FIRST-YEAR TEAM.

1979-80

The second-largest expansion in NHL history was actually a merger, as four surviving teams from the World Hockey Association (Edmonton, New England, Quebec City and Winnipeg) were absorbed for the 1979-80 season. Three of the four franchises have since won the Stanley Cup at least once.

TWO OF THE GREAT NAMES IN NHL ANNALS – DRYDEN AND GRETZKY – WERE FEATURED ON THE COVER OF EDMONTON’S FIRST NHL GUIDE (ABOVE)… THE DRYDEN BEING KEN’S OLDER BROTHER, DAVE, WHO PLAYED GOAL FOR THE FLEDGLING TEAM.

ONE OF THE BEST PLAYERS IN THE HISTORY OF THE WHA – EX-LEAFS DEFENSEMAN RICK LEY – ADORNED THE COVER OF THE WHALERS FIRST MEDIA GUIDE (ABOVE). BASED IN HARTFORD, THE CLUB CHOSE TO DO AWAY WITH ITS “NEW ENGLAND” IDENTITY AND BECOME LOCAL.

QUEBEC CITY DID WELL IN THE WHA AND FANS IN LA BELLE PROVINCE WERE ANXIOUSLY AWAITING A RIVALRY BETWEEN THE NORDIQUES AND MONTREAL CANADIENS. IT TURNED INTO, ARGUABLY, THE MOST INTENSE IN THE LEAGUE’S HISTORY FROM 1979 TO 1995. THE SILHOUETTE OF A HOCKEY PLAYER; THE FRANCHISE LOGO, AND A WHOLE LOT OF BLACK WAS FEATURED ON THE COVER OF THE NORDIQUES FIRST NHL MEDIA GUIDE (ABOVE).

WHAT A COMEDOWN IT WAS FOR THE NHL JETS, WHO CAPTURED THE FINAL AVCO WORLD TROPHY CHAMPIONSHIP IN THE WHA (CAPTAIN LARS-ERIK SJOBERG CARRIES THE TROPHY ABOVE ON COVER OF WINNIPEG’S FIRST NHL MEDIA GUIDE). ALLOWED TO KEEP ONLY TWO PLAYERS, THE JETS WERE 20-49-11 IN THEIR INITIAL NHL SEASON: A PRECURSOR TO ABSOLUTE FUTILITY. IN YEAR TWO, WINNIPEG SLIPPED TO 9-57-14… ITS VICTORY TOTAL THE SECOND-FEWEST IN LEAGUE HISTORY.

1982–83

The Meadowlands Sports Complex in East Rutherford N.J. (across the Hudson River from mid-town Manhattan) welcomed the NHL in 1982, as the woebegone Colorado Rockies re-located from Denver.

THE NEW JERSEY DEVILS FEATURED A COLORFUL – ALMOST PSYCHEDELIC – DESIGN ON THE COVER OF THEIR FIRST NHL MEDIA GUIDE (ABOVE) BUT THE TEAM WAS FLAT AND COLORLESS WITH A 17-49-14 RECORD IN ITS FIRST YEAR IN THE GARDEN STATE.

1999-2000

With a spanking-new arena attached to the world headquarters of cable giant CNN, Atlanta seemed like a prime location, in 1999, for the NHL to try once again. Alas, the city that hosted the 1996 Summer Olympics couldn’t sustain a hockey franchise, nor is it likely to get a third opportunity.

THE ATLANTA THRASHERS FIRST MEDIA GUIDE (ABOVE) HAS NOW BECOME A TRUE COLLECTOR’S ITEM, AS THE FRANCHISE HAS RE-LOCATED IN WINNIPEG. 

MAPLE LEAF GARDENS CALENDARS

You couldn’t go for a hair-cut in Toronto in the 1960s without seeing an Export Cigarettes Maple Leaf Gardens calendar posted on a wall in the barber shop. These items were absolutely gorgeous, with full-color photos of the Maple Leafs; the previous year’s Stanley Cup winner and players on the NHL All-Star team. I’m fortunate to have a dozen of the calendars in my collection… they were no longer printed after the 1974-75 season and are extremely difficult to find.

 

COVER OF THE 1964-65 MLG CALENDAR (ABOVE) AFTER LEAFS HAD WON STANLEY CUP FOR A THIRD CONSECUTIVE YEAR.

EACH MONTH OF THE CALENDAR LISTED LEAFS HOME AND AWAY GAMES, AND ALL OTHER GARDENS EVENTS. IN OCTOBER 1967 (ABOVE), EXPANSION TEAMS LOS ANGELES AND CALIFORNIA VISITED FOR THE FIRST TIME.

ONE PAGE ON EACH YEAR’S CALENDAR WAS DEVOTED TO THE JUNIOR HOCKEY TEAM OWNED BY MAPLE LEAF GARDENS: THE TORONTO MARLBOROS. ON THE DECEMBER 1967 PAGE, THE 1966-67 MEMORIAL CUP CHAMPIONS ARE PICTURED, WITH CAPTAIN (AND FUTURE LEAFS DEFENSEMAN) BRIAN GLENNIE FLANKED BY HAROLD BALLARD (TO HIS LEFT) AND STAFFORD SMYTHE (RIGHT).

LEAFS GAME PROGRAMS

In the 1960s, the Leafs offered fans at the Gardens an elaborately-written and illustrated magazine that featured team line-ups in the centre-spread. These items, when found today, make an excellent collectible for hockey fans. The current game programs are also handsome and well-produced. 

IN JANUARY 1968, THE ALL-STAR GAME FORMAT FEATURING THE PREVIOUS YEAR’S STANLEY CUP CHAMPION WAS PLAYED FOR THE LAST TIME: LEAFS DEFEATING THE NHL ALL-STARS 4-3 AT THE GARDENS. IN 1969, THE GAME SWITCHED TO A CONTEST BETWEEN PLAYERS FROM THE EAST AND WEST DIVISIONS. TORONTO GOALTENDER JOHNNY BOWER (ABOVE) ADORNED THE FRONT OF THE ’68 ALL-STAR PROGRAM, WITH THE CENTRE-SPREAD LINE-UPS BELOW.

I’VE KEPT THE ABOVE PROGRAMS IN AS CLOSE TO MINT CONDITION AS POSSIBLE THROUGH THE DECADES – THESE FOUR FROM THE 1968-69 SEASON.

DURING THE FIRST FOUR MONTHS OF THE 1998-99 SEASON – AS THE LEAFS PREPARED TO MOVE INTO THE AIR CANADA CENTRE – GAME PROGRAMS AT THE GARDENS FEATURED COMMEMORATIVE COVERS. THE FINAL OPENING NIGHT AT MAPLE LEAF GARDENS (ABOVE) SAW LEAFS DEFENSEMAN TIM HORTON KNEELING BESIDE DETROIT CAPTAIN ALEX DELVECCHIO.

WAYNE GRETZKY CAME TO TOWN WITH THE NEW YORK RANGERS AT THE START OF THE CHRISTMAS BREAK IN 1998 (ABOVE) – THE PROGRAM COVER FEATURING EX-LEAFS CAPTAIN GEORGE ARMSTRONG BEING MOLESTED BY RANGERS DEFENSEMAN HARRY HOWELL. IT WOULD TURN OUT TO BE GRETZKY’S FINAL SEASON IN THE NHL.

THE BRUINS FINAL VISIT TO MAPLE LEAF GARDENS FEATURED A PROGRAM COVER (ABOVE) WITH ROOKIE LANNY McDONALD AND SUPERSTAR BOBBY ORR IN A PHOTO FROM THE 1973-74 SEASON.

LEAFS HOSTED CHICAGO IN THEIR FIRST AND LAST GAMES AT MAPLE LEAF GARDENS: A PROGRAM (ABOVE) FROM THE LATTER OCCASION. THE BLACKHAWKS BREEZED TO A 6-2 TRIUMPH ON FEB. 13, 1999 WITH BOB PROBERT SCORING THE FINAL GOAL IN THE BUILDING’S HISTORY.

ONE WEEK AFTER PLAYING THEIR FINAL GAME AT THE GARDENS, THE LEAFS MADE THEIR AIR CANADA CENTRE DEBUT AGAINST MONTREAL (PROGRAM ABOVE)… STEVE THOMAS SCORED IN OVERTIME TO GIVE TORONTO A 3-2 VICTORY. SPEEDY WINGER TODD WARRINER MADE HISTORY BY SCORING THE FIRST GOAL IN THE ACC. 

WAYNE GRETZKY’S FINAL GAME

On the morning of Sunday, April 18th, 1999, I flew from Montreal (where the Leafs had played the previous night) to New York to cover the final game of Wayne Gretzky’s brilliant career. Gretzky had confirmed his decision to retire in a news conference two days earlier, prompting a tidal wave of media requests for the Rangers season finale – an afternoon game against Pittsburgh at Madison Square Garden. Hotel rooms in Manhattan were at a premium (as per usual), so I stayed at the LaGuardia Airport Marriott. This enabled me to drive into the city with Bill McCreary, the veteran referee chosen to handle Gretzky’s last game. Being on hand meant a lot to both of us.

MY GAME CREDENTIAL (ABOVE) AND NOTES PACKAGE (BELOW).

COVER OF THE PROGRAM (ABOVE) FROM GRETZKY’S FINAL GAME AND A LIMITED-EDITION INSERT (BELOW) THAT CAME WITH THE MAGAZINE.

ANYONE THAT WATCHED GRETZKY’S FINAL GAME WILL INSTANTLY RECALL THE SERIES OF LAPS HE UNDERTOOK AFTERWARD BENEATH A SPOTLIGHT IN THE DARKENED ARENA. FOR NEARLY HALF-AN-HOUR, FANS; RANGER TEAMMATES AND THE VISITING PENGUINS STOOD AND CHEERED THE GREAT ONE AS HE SKATED ABOUT THE GARDEN ICE, WAVING AT THE CROWD… EPIC MOMENTS IMMORTALIZED ON THE COVERS OF SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (ABOVE) AND THE SPORTING NEWS (BELOW).

SPORTS ILLUSTRATED FOLLOWED WITH A SPECIAL ISSUE COMMEMORATING GRETZKY’S CAREER.

OTHER NHL PROGRAMS

Covers from a variety of NHL cities (below) in the ’60s and early-’70s.

JEAN BELIVEAU (LEFT) IS WATCHED CLOSELY BY PAUL HENDERSON ON COVER OF A PROGRAM FROM THE DETROIT OLYMPIA IN EARLY-1966.

LEAFS LEGEND RED KELLY (ABOVE) GRACES COVER OF TORONTO AT MONTREAL PROGRAM IN 1966-67 (NOTE SYMBOL OF CANADA’S CENTENNIAL YEAR BENEATH KELLY’S LEFT SHOULDER).

OAKLAND AT BOSTON PROGRAM (ABOVE) FROM 1968-69.

LOS ANGELES KINGS OWNER JACK KENT COOKE WAS PROUD OF THE ARENA HE BUILT FOR HIS CLUB IN SUBURBAN INGLEWOOD AND A CARICATURE OF THE FORUM APPEARED ON THE COVER OF ALL GAME PROGRAMS IN 1968-69; A STORY ABOUT THE CANADIAN BORN COMMUNICATIONS MAGNATE ON THE INSIDE (ABOVE). KINGS FORWARD TED IRVINE IS SCORING ON MINNESOTA’S CESARE MANIAGO IN THE COVER PHOTO FROM KINGS vs. PITTSBURGH PROGRAM (NOV. 2, 1968) IN LOS ANGELES (LINE-UP CENTRE-SPREAD BELOW).

SEVERAL TEAMS, INCLUDING THE OAKLAND (LATER CALIFORNIA GOLDEN) SEALS SUBSCRIBED TO A MAGAZINE PRODUCED BY THE NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE IN THE LATE-’60s AND EARLY-’70s – INSERTING LINE-UPS AND LOCAL PROGRAM DETAILS IN MID-VOLUME. THESE PROGRAMS ARE FROM SEALS GAMES AT THE OAKLAND COLISEUM-ARENA IN 1967-68 (ABOVE) AND 1970-71 (BELOW).

 

THERE WAS NO MISTAKING THE TWO BRUTES ON THE COVER OF THIS ATLANTA FLAMES PROGRAM FROM 1973-74: BIG DEFENSEMAN (AND FUTURE LEAFS COACH) PAT QUINN JOSTLING WITH ONE OF THE GAME’S ALL-TIME PROLIFIC SCORERS – PHIL ESPOSITO OF THE BOSTON BRUINS. THE FLAMES PLAYED AT THE OMNI, WHICH WAS DEMOLISHED AFTER THE 1996 SUMMER OLYMPICS. IN ITS PLACE – ON THE SAME LOT – ROSE PHILIPS ARENA, HOME OF THE NHL THRASHERS FROM 1999 TO 2011.

IN THEIR INAUGURAL NHL SEASON (1970-71), VANCOUVER CANUCKS GRACED THE COVER OF THEIR GAME PROGRAMS WITH LEGENDARY PLAYERS VISITING PACIFIC COLISEUM FOR THE FIRST TIME: JEAN BELIVEAU OF MONTREAL (ABOVE); DAVE KEON (TORONTO) AND GORDIE HOWE (DETROIT) BELOW. BELIVEAU AND HOWE WOULD RETIRE FOLLOWING THE ’70-71 CAMPAIGN.

THE WINNIPEG JETS ARE BACK! THE ABOVE PROGRAM IS FROM A GAME AGAINST HARTFORD AT WINNIPEG ARENA IN OCTOBER 1984, DURING THE JETS INITIAL TENURE IN THE LEAGUE. ON THE COVER: WINGER PAUL MacLEAN, NOW HEAD COACH OF THE OTTAWA SENATORS.

IN THE 1980s, MANY AMERICAN-BASED TEAMS SOLD THE NHL’S OFFICIAL MAGAZINE – GOAL – AT HOME GAMES, INSERTING LOCAL PROGRAM DETAILS INSIDE. CURRENT LEAFS TELEVISION ANALYST GREG MILLEN IS PICTURED ABOVE ON A MAGAZINE FROM A HARTFORD WHALERS GAME IN 1985.

INTERNATIONAL HOCKEY

The legendary summit series between Canada and the Soviet Union in September 1972 began a string of high-profile international hockey tournaments involving NHL players. This trend culminated with the league’s involvement in the Winter Olympic Games of 1998 (Nagano); 2002 (Salt Lake City); 2006 (Turin) and 2010 (Vancouver). Will the Olympic trend continue at Sochi in 2014?

TEAM CANADA AND THE SOVIETS PLAYED EIGHT GAMES IN THE AUTUMN OF 1972 – FOUR IN OUR COUNTRY; FOUR MORE IN MOSCOW… THERE WAS A TWO-WEEK HIATUS IN-BETWEEN. THAT BREAK ALLOWED HOCKEY CANADA TO PRODUCE A MAGAZINE (ABOVE) FOR USE BY CANADIAN TELEVISION VIEWERS DURING THE FOUR MATCHES IN RUSSIA. THE COVER FEATURED A PAIR OF PHOTOS FROM GAME 2 OF THE SERIES, PLAYED AT MAPLE LEAF GARDENS ON SEP. 4, 1972, WITH MORE PHOTOS FROM THAT 4-1 CANADIAN VICTORY – AND TEAM LINE-UPS – ON THE INSIDE (BELOW). CANADA FAMOUSLY WON THE SERIES 4-3-1 ON PAUL HENDERSON’S GOAL WITH 34 SECONDS REMAINING IN THE DECIDING EIGHTH GAME, AT MOSCOW, SEP. 28, 1972.

TWO YEARS AFTER THE INITIAL SUMMIT, CANADA AND RUSSIA PLAYED AN IDENTICAL EIGHT-GAME TOURNAMENT FEATURING CANADIAN-BORN PLAYERS IN THE WORLD HOCKEY ASSOCIATION. THIS ALLOWED BOBBY HULL AND GORDIE HOWE TO PARTICIPATE. HULL HAD BEEN EXCLUDED FROM THE 1972 CANADIAN ROSTER BY VIRTUE OF HIS DEFECTION FROM THE CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS TO WINNIPEG OF THE WHA (THE ’72 EVENT WAS CONFINED TO NHL SKATERS). HOWE HAD RETIRED FROM THE DETROIT RED WINGS AND RETURNED TO THE ICE IN 1973 TO PLAY WITH HIS SONS – MARK AND MARTY – ON THE WHA’S HOUSTON AEROS. SOMEWHAT PREDICTABLY, THE ’74 CANADIAN TEAM GOT TRAMPLED BY THE MIGHTY RUSSIANS, WHO ICED VIRTUALLY AN IDENTICAL ROSTER TO THE ONE THAT HELD CANADA EVEN UNTIL THE FINAL 34 SECONDS OF THE ’72 SUMMIT. THOUGH SUCH PLAYERS AS HOWE, HULL, MIKE WALTON AND J.C. TREMBLAY COULD HAVE MADE THE ’72 TEAM AS WELL, THE ’74 SQUAD WAS SPRINKLED WITH WHA JOURNEYMEN SUCH AS BRUCE MacGREGOR, PAUL SHMYR, RICK SMITH, RICK LEY, RALPH BACKSTROM AND SERGE BERNIER (ROSTER PHOTO FROM PROGRAM BELOW). THE SOVIETS PREVAILED 4-1-3 IN THE EIGHT GAMES, THEIR ONLY DEFEAT OCCURRING IN GAME 2 AT MAPLE LEAF GARDENS (WHERE CANADA HAD ALSO TRIUMPHED TWO YEARS EARLIER).

 

THE INAUGURAL CANADA CUP TOURNAMENT IN 1976 (PROGRAM ABOVE) LIKELY FEATURED THE BEST-EVER TEAM FROM THIS COUNTRY… INCLUDED AMONG THE PLAYERS WERE BOBBY ORR, BOBBY HULL, PHIL ESPOSITO, MARCEL DIONNE, DENIS POTVIN AND LARRY ROBINSON. THE TOURNAMENT IS BEST-REMEMBERED FOR DARRYL SITTLER’S OVERTIME WINNING GOAL AGAINST CZECHOSLOVAKIA, AND FOR ORR’S HEROIC PERFORMANCE ON CRIPPLED KNEES; IT WAS THE LAST HURRAH FOR THE GREAT NO. 4, WHO WAS NAMED TOURNAMENT MVP. HE RETIRED IN NOVEMBER 1978, HAVING FINISHED HIS CAREER BY PLAYING ONLY 28 GAMES OVER TWO SEASONS WITH THE CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS.

AMONG THE INGLORIOUS MOMENTS FOR THE NHL IN INTERNATIONAL HOCKEY WAS THE CHALLENGE CUP TOURNAMENT AT NEW YORK IN FEBRUARY 1979 (PROGRAM ABOVE) THAT REPLACED THE LEAGUE’S ALL-STAR GAME THAT SEASON. A TEAM OF NHL STARS TOOK ON THE RUSSIAN NATIONAL SQUAD IN A BEST-OF-THREE EVENT AT MADISON SQUARE GARDEN. AFTER SPLITTING THE FIRST TWO GAMES, THE NHLers WERE OBLITERATED, 6-0, IN THE DECIDING MATCH.

INGLORIOUS IS A POLITE WAY OF DESCRIBING WHAT HAPPENED TO TEAM CANADA IN THE FINALE OF THE 1981 CANADA CUP (PROGRAM ABOVE). HAVING ROMPED, 7-3, OVER THE RUSSIANS IN ROUND-ROBIN PLAY, THE HOST TEAM WAS DESTROYED, 8-1, IN THE CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH AT THE MONTREAL FORUM, PROVING TO MANY THAT THE SOVIETS HAD PLAYED “POSSUM” DURING THE INITIAL ENCOUNTER. POOR MIKE LIUT – COMING OFF A TREMENDOUS SEASON WITH THE ST. LOUIS BLUES – WAS THE SHELL-SHOCKED GOALIE FOR CANADA THAT DAY.

THE 1984 CANADA CUP (PROGRAM ABOVE) WAS ESSENTIALLY A BATTLE BETWEEN THE EDMONTON OILERS AND THE REST OF THE HOCKEY WORLD. HAVING JUST BEGUN THEIR CHAMPIONSHIP DYNASTY BY ENDING THE FOUR-YEAR STANLEY CUP REIGN OF THE NEW YORK ISLANDERS, WAYNE GRETZKY AND CO. FORMED THE BULK OF THE CANADIAN ROSTER FOR THE THIRD BEST-ON-BEST INTERNATIONAL AFFAIR. GRETZKY, PAUL COFFEY, GLENN ANDERSON, MARK MESSIER, GRANT FUHR, KEVIN LOWE, CHARLIE HUDDY AND RANDY GREGG OF THE OILERS PLAYED FOR A TEAM MANAGED AND COACHED BY EDMONTON’S GLEN SATHER. THE BEST-OF-THREE FINAL IN THIS TOURNAMENT (CANADA vs. SWEDEN) WAS ANTI-CLIMACTIC AFTER THE PHENOMENAL SEMIFINAL MATCH BETWEEN CANADA AND THE SOVIETS. ON SEP. 13, 1984 AT THE CALGARY SADDELDOME, CANADA TRAILED THE RUSSIANS, 2-1, LATE IN REGULATION AND TIED THE MATCH ON A GOAL BY DOUG WILSON. AN INCREDIBLE BACK-AND-FORTH OVERTIME LOOKED AS IF IT WOULD END WHEN THE SOVIETS BROKE AWAY ON A TWO-ON-ONE RUSH. BUT COFFEY MADE A SPECTACULAR PLAY TO INTERCEPT A CROSS-FEED BY VLADIMIR COVIN. HE TRANSITIONED THE OTHER WAY AND HIS SHOT FROM INSIDE THE RIGHT POINT HIT THE OUT-STRETCHED BLADE OF MIKE BOSSY’S STICK AT 12:19 OF THE FIRST EXTRA PERIOD, GIVING CANADA A 3-2 WIN, AND SETTING OFF A WILD CELEBRATION IN THE SADDLEDOME. CANADA SWEPT THE FINAL FROM THE SWEDES IN TWO GAMES. 

DARRYL SITTLER

The most popular and prolific athlete in Toronto during the 1970s was Darryl Sittler, captain of the Maple Leafs. Any Leaf fan with even a slight predilection for history should be familiar with Sittler’s amazing trifecta in 1976: his still-record 10-point game against Boston at Maple Leaf Gardens; his still-record-sharing five-goal playoff eruption at the Gardens against Philadelphia, and his overtime goal that won the inaugural Canada Cup tournament.

DARRYL SITTLER BECAME UNDISPUTED LEADER OF THE BLUE & WHITE IN 1974-75, AFTER LEAFS OWNER HAROLD BALLARD HAD UNCEREMONIOUSLY DUMPED TWO OF THE CLUB’S RENOWNED VETERANS: DAVE KEON AND NORM ULLMAN. PICTURED ABOVE ON THE NOVEMBER 1974 ISSUE OF HOCKEY WORLD MAGAZINE, SITTLER SUCCEEDED KEON AS CAPTAIN IN THE SUMMER OF ’75.

IT STILL RANKS (AND PROBABLY ALWAYS WILL) AS THE MOST MEMORABLE HOCKEY GAME I’VE ATTENDED: SATURDAY NIGHT, FEBRUARY 7th, 1976 – TORONTO vs. BOSTON AT MAPLE LEAF GARDENS. I HAD JUST TURNED 17 AND WAS FULLY EXPECTING A MIS-MATCH, AS THE STRUGGLING LEAFS WERE UP AGAINST THE DON CHERRY-LED BRUINS: 15-1-2 IN THEIR PREVIOUS 18 GAMES. BY THE MIDWAY MARK OF THE OPENING PERIOD, THE LOP-SIDED RESULT BEGAN TO MATERIALIZE… BUT HARDLY IN FAVOR OF BOSTON. EVERY TIME HE STEPPED ON THE ICE, IT SEEMED AS IF SITTLER EITHER SCORED OR HELPED TO SET UP A GOAL. WHEN THE SMOKE CLEARED, TORONTO EMERGED WITH A STARTLING 11-4 VICTORY IN WHICH SITTLER BROKE MAURICE RICHARD’S RECORD OF EIGHT POINTS IN ONE GAME. HE TIED A LEAGUE MARK WITH SIX GOALS AND ASSISTED ON FOUR OTHERS FOR A 10-POINT ERUPTION THAT REMAINS THE SINGLE-GAME STANDARD MORE THAN 35 YEARS LATER. PICTURED ABOVE IS THE ACTUAL PROGRAM FROM FEB. 7, 1976, WHOSE COVER AND LINE-UP CENTRE-SPREAD I DE-FACED LATER THAT NIGHT.

RATHER FITTINGLY, SITTLER APPEARED ON THE MARCH 1976 COVER OF HOCKEY WORLD MAGAZINE (ABOVE), THE MONTH AFTER HIS 10-POINT GAME, THOUGH IT WAS ACTUALLY PUBLISHED BEFORE THE RECORD OUTBURST, THEREBY OFFERING NO MENTION ON THE INSIDE.

SITTLER ON COVER OF GOAL MAGAZINE IN OCTOBER 1976 (ABOVE) AND FEATURED PROMINENTLY ON FRONT OF THE LEAFS 1976-77 MEDIA GUIDE (BELOW).

BASEBALL AND THE BLUE JAYS

Major League Baseball came to Toronto in 1977 with the arrival of the Blue Jays. Within six years, the Jays were a contender and they absolutely consumed this city between 1985 and 1993, when they built toward and eventually won consecutive World Series championships.

MINNESOTA TWINS SLUGGER HARMON KILLEBREW (ABOVE) WAS ONE OF THE GREAT STARS OF THE 1960s. HERE, HE SWINGS AWAY ON THE COVER OF STREET & SMITH’S BASEBALL ANNUAL 44 YEARS AGO. KILLEBREW DIED OF ESOPHAGEAL CANCER ON MAY 17, 2011. HE WAS 74.

THE SEATTLE PILOTS WEREN’T EXACTLY A STAPLE OF MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL, PLAYING ONLY THE 1969 SEASON IN THE AMERICAN LEAGUE BEFORE RE-LOCATING IN MILWAUKEE AS THE BREWERS. ONE OF THE CLUB’S MAJOR SHORTCOMINGS WAS ITS HOME BALLPARK – SICKS’ STADIUM – WHICH HELD ONLY 17,000 FANS (PROGRAM ABOVE). THE CLUB IS REMEMBERED, MOST NOTORIOUSLY, FOR PITCHER JIM BOUTON, WHO PENNED A DIARY OF HIS 1969 EXPERIENCE IN SEATTLE NAMED BALL FOUR (BELOW), A CANDID, TELL-ALL BOOK THAT BLEW THE LID OFF THE BASEBALL ESTABLISHMENT AND RELEGATED THE AUTHOR AN OUTCAST IN THE SPORT.

TWO OF BASEBALL’S ALL-TIME GREATS ADORNED THE COVER OF SPORTS ILLUSTRATED MAGAZINE ON SEP. 8, 1969 (ABOVE). ONE OF THEM REMAINS BANNED FROM THE GAME FOR LIFE.

THE 1977 BLUE JAYS WERE A TYPICALLY LOUSY EXPANSION TEAM THAT PLAYED IN A MOSTLY SUB-PAR BASEBALL STADIUM. BUT, THEY WERE FUN TO WATCH; SUPERBLY MARKETED AND A BIG-TIME DRAW WHEN SUCH TEAMS AS THE NEW YORK YANKEES, BOSTON RED SOX OR DETROIT TIGERS CAME TO TOWN. AN EXTREMELY VIVID MEMORY FROM THE JAYS FIRST SEASON – SUMMARIZED IN A SPECIAL EDITION OF THEIR PROGRAM (ABOVE) – WAS A TWI-NIGHT DOUBLEHEADER AGAINST THE YANKEES AT EXHIBITION STADIUM ON JUNE 28. TWI-NIGHT DOUBLEHEADERS BEGAN AT 5:30 AND THE GAMES WERE SEPARATED BY A 40-MINUTE BREAK; THE PRICE OF ONE TICKET GOT YOU IN FOR BOTH. D-Hers HAVE BECOME RARE IN THIS ERA AND ARE ALMOST ALWAYS DAY-NIGHT AFFAIRS, REQUIRING THE PURCHASE OF SEPARATE TICKETS. THE YANKEE DOUBLEHEADER OF JUNE 28, 1977 WAS SPECIAL, GIVEN THE INCREASING NOTORIETY OF THE BRONX BOMBERS; BILLY MARTIN, REGGIE JACKSON, THURMAN MUNSON, GRAIG NETTLES ET AL WOULD BE WORLD CHAMPIONS AT SEASON’S END.

IN 1983 – ONLY SEVEN YEARS AFTER THEIR INCEPTION – THE BLUE JAYS TURNED THE CORNER FROM EXPANSION TEAM TO PLAYOFF CONTENDER (COVER OF THE CLUB’S ’83 YEARBOOK ABOVE). MANAGED BY BOBBY COX, THEY HAD THE BEST STARTING PITCHER IN BASEBALL (DAVE STIEB); EXCEPTIONAL POWER FROM BOTH SIDES OF THE PLATE (JESSE BARFIELD/WILLIE UPSHAW); TERRIFIC SPEED ON THE BASEPATHS (LLOYD MOSEBY/ALFREDO GRIFFIN) AND AND WERE SOLID BEHIND THE PLATE WITH CATCHERS ERNIE WHITT AND BUCK MARTINEZ. IF NOT FOR A SPOTTY BULLPEN AND THE LACK OF ANYTHING THAT RESEMBLED A CLOSER, THE JAYS MAY HAVE BEEN CHAMPIONS WELL BEFORE 1992.

RIGHT-HANDER DAVE STIEB – PICTURED ABOVE ON A BLUE JAYS PROGRAM FROM 1983 – WAS STARTING PITCHER FOR THE AMERICAN LEAGUE IN THE ALL-STAR GAMES OF 1983 (COMISKEY PARK, CHICAGO) AND 1984 (CANDLESTICK PARK, SAN FRANCISCO). AFTER A COUPLE OF BAD BOUNCES ENDED PERFECT GAME BIDS, STIEB FINALLY TOSSED A NO-HITTER AT CLEVELAND MUNICIPAL STADIUM ON THE AFTERNOON OF SEP. 2, 1990. BY THEN, HIS BEST YEARS WERE BEHIND HIM; STIEB PLAYED ALMOST NO ROLE IN THE 1992 WORLD SERIES TRIUMPH AND WAS ON THE CHICAGO WHITE SOX ROSTER WHEN THE JAYS REPEATED AS CHAMPS IN 1993. BY ANY MEASURE, THOUGH, STIEB STANDS ALONGSIDE ROY HALLADAY AS THE BEST PITCHER IN TEAM HISTORY.

THE STREET & SMITH’S 1993 BASEBALL ANNUAL (ABOVE) SAYS IT ALL: THE BLUE JAYS WERE DEFENDING CHAMPIONS AFTER KNOCKING OFF ATLANTA IN THE 1992 WORLD SERIES. COVER PHOTO SHOWS TORONTO SECOND-BASEMAN ROBERTO ALOMAR SLIDING INTO HOME PLATE AHEAD OF OAKLAND CATCHER TERRY STEINBACH. ALOMAR – THE BEST PLAYER, TO THIS POINT, IN BLUE JAYS HISTORY – BREATHED FIRE INTO THE 1992 PLAYOFF RUN BY HITTING A NOW-LEGENDARY HOME RUN OFF THE A’s DENNIS ECKERSLEY AT THE OAKLAND COLISEUM IN THE AMERICAN LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES. ALOMAR WAS INDUCTED INTO THE BASEBALL HALL OF FAME THIS YEAR.

ROBERTO ALOMAR’S HOME RUN IN OAKLAND STOOD AS THE GREATEST MOMENT IN BLUE JAYS HISTORY FOR JUST MORE THAN A YEAR – UNTIL THE LATE-EVENING HOURS OF OCT. 23, 1993. THAT’S WHEN JOE CARTER STEPPED TO THE PLATE AGAINST PHILADELPHIA CLOSER MITCH WILLIAMS AT SKYDOME IN GAME 6 OF THE ’93 WORLD SERIES. MOMENTS LATER, CARTER BECAME THE FIRST BATTER SINCE BILL MASZEROSKI OF PITTSBURGH, 33 YEARS EARLIER, TO END THE BASEBALL SEASON WITH A WALK-OFF HOME-RUN… HIS LINE-SHOT TO LEFT FIELD ENABLED THE BLUE JAYS TO REPEAT AS CHAMPIONS AND SPARKED HIS NOW-FAMOUS ROMP AROUND THE BASES – A MOMENT CAPTURED ON THE COVER OF SPORTS ILLUSTRATED CANADA (ABOVE) AND IMMORTALIZED BY THE WONDERFUL AND LEGENDARY “TOUCH ‘EM ALL, JOE!” CALL FROM THE LATE BLUE JAYS’ RADIO VOICE, TOM CHEEK.

THE BLUE JAYS WORLD SERIES CELEBRATION WAS CAPTURED ON THE COVER OF THE NOV. 1, 1993 EDITION OF THE SPORTING NEWS (ABOVE). SERIES MVP PAUL MOLITOR IS IN CENTRE OF THE PHOTO, HAVING LEFT A CAREER-LONG TENURE IN MILWAUKEE TO SIGN AS A FREE AGENT WITH THE JAYS AFTER THEIR FIRST CHAMPIONSHIP. HIS INCREDIBLE BAT-SPEED HELPED THE CLUB REPEAT.

ONE OF THREE MAJOR LEAGUE ALL-STAR GAMES I COVERED FOR THE FAN-590 WAS THE 1994 MATCH AT THREE RIVERS STADIUM IN PITTSBURGH (PROGRAM ABOVE). SADLY FOR BASEBALL AND ITS FANS, THERE WOULD BE NO PLAYOFFS OR WORLD SERIES THAT AUTUMN – BOTH CANCELED BY A LABOR DISPUTE IN WHICH THE OWNERS LOCKED OUT THE PLAYERS.

FOOTBALL AND THE ARGONAUTS

From the night I went to my first live game – Ottawa vs. the Argonauts at CNE Stadium on Sep. 20, 1969 – I’ve been a no-holds-barred fan of the Canadian Football League. I also enjoy watching the National Football League and – unlike many fans – I have no reason or desire to choose between the two. On numerous occasions, I have written and said that the Argonauts of the late-’60s and early-’70s – coached by Leo Cahill and featuring such players as Joe Theismann, Mel Profit, Dick Thornton, Bill Symons, Marv Luster, Bobby Taylor, Jim Stillwagon and Jim Corrigall – are my favorite Toronto sports teams of all-time. 

I HAVE A STACK OF ARGONAUT MEDIA GUIDES DATING TO THE EARLY-1960s IN MY COLLECTION, INCLUDING THE TWO PICTURED ABOVE FROM THE LEO CAHILL ERA. PHOTO ON THE 1972 COVER IS FROM A PLAYOFF GAME AGAINST THE MONTREAL ALOUETTES IN 1970 ON THE OLD GRASS FIELD AT CNE STADIUM. ARGO DEFENDERS ED HARRINGTON (54), PETER MARTIN (77) AND BOB HUDSPETH (65) ATTEMPT TO KEEP MONTREAL RUNNING BACK MOSES DENSON (26) FROM SCORING. THREE WEEKS LATER, THE ALOUETTES WOULD WIN THE GREY CUP OVER CALGARY AT THE CNE.

 

THE 50th GREY CUP GAME, IN 1962 (PROGRAM ABOVE), IS REMEMBERED TO THIS DAY AS THE “FOG BOWL”. PLAYED AT “C.N.E. PARK”, ACCORDING TO THE PROGRAM, THE HAMILTON TIGER-CATS AND WINNIPEG BLUE BOMBERS WERE ENVELOPED BY A THICK CLOUD THAT ROLLED IN OFF THE COOL WATERS OF LAKE ONTARIO. VISIBILITY BECAME SO POOR THAT CFL COMMISSIONER SYD HALTER SUSPENDED THE MATCH WITH 9:29 LEFT IN THE FOURTH QUARTER. THE REMAINING MOMENTS WERE PLAYED THE FOLLOWING AFTERNOON (DEC. 2, 1962) BEFORE A SPARSE GATHERING, BUT IN GLORIOUSLY CLEAR WEATHER. WINNIPEG EDGED HAMILTON 28-27. IT REMAINS THE ONLY GREY CUP GAME EVER TO BE PLAYED OVER A TWO-DAY SPAN.

 

ANOTHER WEATHER ANOMALY ON THE SHORES OF LAKE ONTARIO PLAYED HAVOC WITH THE 1965 GREY CUP GAME (PROGRAM ABOVE), ALSO BETWEEN THE TIGER-CATS AND BLUE BOMBERS. A HOWLING WIND THAT GUSTED TO MORE THAN 40 MILES-PER-HOUR FORCED AN UNPRECEDENTED CHANGE IN THE CFL PUNTING REGULATIONS. HEAD COACHES BUD GRANT OF WINNIPEG AND RALPH SAZIO OF HAMILTON AGREED TO A RULE WHEREBY PLAY WAS BLOWN DEAD THE MOMENT THE BALL TOUCHED A PUNT RETURNER. AS A RESULT OF THE WIND, HOWEVER, THE TIGER-CATS CONCEDED THREE SAFETY TOUCHES (TOTALLING SIX POINTS) FROM DEEP IN THEIR TERRITORY… AND WOUND UP LOSING BY FIVE (22-16).

 

IN LEO CAHILL’S FIRST SEASON AS COACH (1967), THE ARGONAUTS BROKE A LONG PLAYOFF DROUGHT BY FINISHING THIRD IN THE EASTERN CONFERENCE WITH A 5-8-1 RECORD. THE PROGRAM ABOVE IS FROM A LATE-SEASON GAME AGAINST THE OTTAWA ROUGH RIDERS.

NO MATTER THE YEAR, OR THE STATE OF EITHER TEAM, THERE REMAINS SOMETHING SPECIAL ABOUT A FOOTBALL GAME BETWEEN PROXIMITY RIVALS THE ARGONAUTS AND HAMILTON TIGER-CATS (PROGRAM ABOVE). BOTH CLUBS WERE POWERFUL IN OCTOBER 1969 WHEN THEY HOOKED UP AT HAMILTON’S CIVIC STADIUM (RE-NAMED IVOR WYNNE STADIUM AFTER RENOVATION IN 1971). TORONTO PREVAILED IN A DEFENSIVE STRUGGLE, 17-7, AND THEN ROUTED THE TIGER-CATS, 51-8, AT CNE STADIUM SIX DAYS LATER. ARGONAUTS QUARTERBACK TOM WILKINSON (19) IS FEATURED ON THE COVER OF THE PROGRAM. HE’D LATER ENJOY SOME TERRIFIC YEARS WITH THE EDMONTON ESKIMOS.

IN THE LATE-’60s AND EARLY-’70s, THE SAME COMPANY THAT PUBLISHED HOCKEY WORLD MAGAZINE PUT OUT A HANDSOME MONTHLY DEDICATED TO THE CFL (ISSUES ABOVE FROM AUGUST 1970; OCTOBER 1971 AND AUGUST 1972). I STILL ENJOY BROWSING THROUGH THE DOZEN-OR-SO ISSUES OF CANADIAN FOOTBALL NEWS THAT I’VE KEPT THROUGH THE YEARS.

AFTER BEING TORMENTED BY THE ARGONAUTS ON A WEEKLY BASIS THROUGH THE 1970s, BEING A DIE-HARD FAN OF THE DOUBLE-BLUE FINALLY BECAME FUN. IN 1982 – UNDER ROOKIE COACH BOB O’BILLOVICH AND LED BY LEAGUE MVP CONDREDGE HOLLOWAY AT QUARTERBACK – THE ARGOS HAD AN EXCELLENT YEAR AND MADE IT TO THE GREY CUP GAME ON HOME TURF, WHERE THEY WERE THROTTLED BY EDMONTON (ESKIMOS WINNING THE CFL CHAMPIONSHIP FOR A FIFTH CONSECUTIVE SEASON). THE SECOND HALF OF THE GAME AT EXHIBITION STADIUM (PROGRAM ABOVE) WAS PLAYED IN A MONSOON, RENEWING LOUD CALLS AMONG FANS AND CIVIC LEADERS FOR A COVERED FACILITY.

A HEADLINE IN THE TORONTO STAR THE DAY AFTER THE 1983 GREY CUP IN VANCOUVER (PROGRAM ABOVE) SAID IT ALL: “AT LAST!!” IT SIGNIFIED THE END OF A 31-YEAR CHAMPIONSHIP DROUGHT FOR THE ARGONAUTS, WHO EDGED THE B.C. LIONS, 18-17, AT B.C. PLACE STADIUM. I WAS PRIVILEGED TO ATTEND THE GAME FOR THE COMPANY THAT PUBLISHED THE CFL PROGRAM BUT I REMEMBER HAVING TERRIBLY MIXED FEELINGS WHEN IT WAS OVER. ON ONE HAND, IT WAS A TREMENDOUS THRILL TO WATCH, IN PERSON, AS QUARTERBACK JOE BARNES LED THE ARGOS TO A SECOND-HALF COMEBACK AND THEIR FIRST GREY CUP OF MY LIFE. I’LL ALWAYS REMEMBER BEING STARTLED AFTERWARD IN THE COMMOTION OUTSIDE THE ARGONAUTS DRESSING ROOM. GENERAL MANAGER RALPH SAZIO, A CFL LEGEND FROM HAMILTON WHO HAD “DEFECTED” TO TORONTO, WAS STANDING BY HIMSELF WITH A BROAD GRIN ON HIS FACE. I WALKED UP, EXTENDED MY HAND, AND SIMPLY SAID “THANK YOU, MR. SAZIO” FOR A TRIUMPH I THOUGHT I MIGHT NEVER WITNESS. RATHER THAN SHAKING HANDS, SAZIO ENVELOPED ME IN A BEAR-HUG THAT SQUEEZED THE AIR OUT OF MY LUNGS. ONCE I RECOVERED, I DID MY POST-GAME WORK IN THE DRESSING ROOM THEN LEFT B.C. PLACE… AND THAT’S WHEN IT HIT ME: THOUGH ECSTATIC TO HAVE WITNESSED THE GAME LIVE, I WAS NOW IN THE MIDST OF A SILENT CITY – FOOTBALL FANS WALKING FORLORNLY AWAY FROM THE DOMED PARK AFTER WATCHING THEIR TEAM LOSE. MEANWHILE, BACK HOME, DOWNTOWN TORONTO WAS A MADHOUSE, AS THOUSANDS OF ARGONAUT FANS PORED ONTO THE STREETS IN CELEBRATION. IF I COULD HAVE WAVED A MAGIC WAND, I’D HAVE BEEN AMONG THEM IN AN INSTANT.

ARGUABLY THE BEST TWO TEAMS IN TORONTO FOOTBALL HISTORY WERE THOSE GUIDED BY QUARTERBACK DOUG FLUTIE IN 1996 AND 1997. BOTH CLUBS FINISHED 15-3 AND WON THE GREY CUP. THE ’96 CHAMPIONSHIP (PROGRAM ABOVE) WAS PLAYED IN A BLIZZARD AT IVOR WYNNE STADIUM IN HAMILTON. SOMEHOW, ON A FIELD BLANKETED BY SNOW, THE ARGOS AND EDMONTON ESKIMOS COMBINED FOR 80 POINTS – TORONTO PREVAILING 43-37. ARGOS WERE EVEN MORE DOMINANT THE FOLLOWING YEAR, WINNING THEIR GAMES BY AN AVERAGE OF 18 POINTS. THEY KNOCKED OFF SASKATCHEWAN TO REPEAT AS GREY CUP CHAMPIONS.

THE ARGONAUTS MOST RECENT GREY CUP – IN 2004 – CAME AS A SURPRISE, GIVEN HOW THE OFFENSE FOUNDERED THROUGH MUCH OF THE SEASON. BUT, STAUNCH DEFENSE AND SPECTACULAR SPECIAL TEAMS MADE THE DIFFERENCE AS TORONTO DEFEATED THE B.C. LIONS, 23-18, AT LANSDOWNE PARK IN OTTAWA (PROGRAM ABOVE). TO HIS CREDIT, VETERAN QUARTERBACK DAMON ALLEN CAME UP WITH TWO OF HIS BEST GAMES WHEN IT MATTERED MOST; THE ARGOS WERE ABLE TO UPSET THE HEAVILY-FAVORED MONTREAL ALOUETTES IN THE EASTERN CONFERENCE FINAL AT A PACKED OLYMPIC STADIUM BEFORE WINNING THE GREY CUP THE FOLLOWING WEEK. MIKE (PINBALL) CLEMONS, THE MOST POPULAR ARGONAUT FIGURE IN MODERN TIMES, WAS HEAD COACH OF THE 2004 SQUAD, HAVING PLAYED SUPERBLY FOR THE ’96 AND ’97 CHAMPIONS.

THE NBA RETURNS TO CANADA

Many sports fans, to this day, do not realize that Toronto was a charter member of the National Basketball Association in 1946. That’s because the Toronto Huskies lasted all of one season before consigning themselves to oblivion. It took 48 years for the league to return to Canada, as the Toronto Raptors and Vancouver Grizzlies joined the NBA for the 1995-96 season. Sadly for basketball fans out west, the Grizzlies survived only six years in Vancouver before re-locating in Memphis in 2001-02. The Raptors had a brief fling with success in 2001, coming to within a Vince Carter jump-shot at Philadelphia of reaching the Eastern Conference final. Carter’s attempt bounced off the rim and the Raptors have authored a lengthy tale of woe since that day. 

THE COVER OF STREET & SMITH’S 1995-96 NBA PREVIEW MAGAZINE (ABOVE) FEATURED JERSEYS OF THE TWO CANADIAN-BASED EXPANSION TEAMS.

WHILE THE AIR CANADA CENTRE WAS BEING BUILT, THE RAPTORS PLAYED HOME GAMES IN A MAKE-SHIFT SET-UP AT SKYDOME (NOW ROGERS CENTRE) WHILE HOSTING SEVERAL OTHERS AT MAPLE LEAF GARDENS. THE PROGRAM ABOVE IS FROM THE CLUB’S FIRST-EVER HOME GAME: AN EXHIBITION MATCH AGAINST ATLANTA HAWKS ON OCT. 18, 1995. THE COVER FEATURES GENERAL MANAGER ISIAH THOMAS, A STANDOUT PLAYER ON THE DETROIT PISTON CHAMPIONSHIP TEAMS OF THE LATE-’80s; THE RAPTORS’ FIRST HEAD COACH, BRENDAN MALONE, AND THE TEAM’S INITIAL DRAFT PICK: UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA POINT-GUARD DAMON STOUDAMIRE, WHO WOULD BE THE NBA’S TOP ROOKIE IN ’95-96. 

WORLD EVENTS

A large part of my collection is comprised of newspapers and periodicals of historic value, in the wake of events that had an impact across the globe.

 SEPTEMBER 11, 2001 

AS WE APPROACH THE 10th ANNIVERSARY OF THE TERRORIST ATTACKS ON NEW YORK, WASHINGTON AND SHANKSVILLE PA., A GLANCE AT NEWS MAGAZINES IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE HORROR OF SEP. 11, 2001 REMINDS US HOW QUICKLY TIME PASSES.

AFTER A NINE-AND-A-HALF-YEAR MANHUNT, THE UNITED STATES FINALLY TRACKED DOWN AND LIQUIDATED THE MOST NOTORIOUS BASTARD ON EARTH. OSAMA BIN LADEN – HIS IMAGE CROSSED OUT ON THE COVER OF TIME MAGAZINE – WAS KILLED BY A SPLENDID THRONG OF NAVY S*E*A*L*S IN EARLY MAY. BIN LADEN FINANCED AND ORGANIZED THE 2001 TERRORIST ATTACKS AND THEN RELEASED A VIDEO THAT SHOWED HIM CELEBRATING THE COLLAPSE OF THE WORLD TRADE CENTRE TOWERS. WE ARE FOREVER RICHER WITHOUT HIM.

ANOTHER PART OF MY COLLECTION WAS PURCHASED ROUGHLY 15 YEARS AGO: A STACK OF TV GUIDE MAGAZINES WHOSE COVERS DEPICT IMPORTANT EVENTS. THE JAN. 25-31, 1964 ISSUE (ABOVE) FEATURES A LONG STORY ABOUT THE ENDLESS HOURS THAT AMERICANS WERE GLUED TO THEIR BLACK & WHITE TELEVISION SETS AFTER PRESIDENT JOHN F. KENNEDY AND – TWO DAYS LATER – HIS ACCUSED ASSASSIN, LEE HARVEY OSWALD, WERE MURDERED. THE JULY 19-25, 1969 ISSUE (BELOW) INFORMS VIEWERS ABOUT THE HISTORIC FIRST MOON-WALK OF APOLLO 11 COMING UP THAT WEEKEND. ASTRONAUT NEIL ARMSTRONG UTTERED HIS FAMOUS WORDS “THAT’S ONE SMALL STEP FOR MAN; ONE GIANT LEAP FOR MANKIND” ON THE NIGHT OF JULY 20, 1969.

LIFE  MAGAZINE AND THE U.S. SPACE PROGRAM 

The original seven astronauts chosen by the United States for its man in space program on Apr. 9, 1959 (also known as the Mercury Seven) became overnight celebrities and household names. Alan Shepard, John Glenn, Gordon Cooper, Wally Schirra, Donald (Deke) Slayton, Scott Carpenter and Virgil (Gus) Grissom were treated the way movie and rock stars are today (minus the paparazzi). The astronauts and their wives took advantage of this recognition by signing an exclusive contract, in August 1959, with Life Magazine (1936-1972) – a coffee-table-sized weekly, replete with large photos – that competed with Time and Newsweek. In exchange for $500,000, an exorbitant sum back then, Life received exclusive access to the astronauts’ personal stories and were able to visit their homes and families. This contract spanned the entire decade of the ’60s, as the Americans and Russians raced to put a man on the moon and prove – in the midst of the Cold War – which society among the Western or Communist world was superior. Ultimately, the U.S. prevailed when Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon for more than two hours on July 20, 1969. On its way to achieving that goal, the Americans undertook a trio of space programs – Mercury, Gemini and Apollo – to rehearse and perfect all of the measures required to rendezvous and dock in space; to handle long periods of weightlessness, and to be recovered in the ocean after returning to Earth and “splashing down.” It was a magical time in the history of science and exploration, and Life Magazine was at the forefront of it all. More than a decade ago, I purchased 15 back issues of the periodical with covers from the space program. Five such magazines – including those that dealt with Apollo 11 – are pictured below.

THE O.J. SIMPSON SAGA

Between June 13, 1994 and Oct. 2, 1995, North Americans were consumed by the so-called “Trial of the Century”, as former NFL star running back O.J. Simpson attempted to prove to a jury that he did not – as accused – murder his his ex-wife, Nicole Brown, and a waiter-friend of Nicole’s, Ronald Goldman. The daily proceedings were televised live by CNN from the Criminal Courts Building in downtown Los Angeles and drew record ratings. With his riches, Simpson hired a cadre of high-profile lawyers that included Johnny Cochrane, Robert Shapiro, F. Lee Bailey and Alan Dershowitz. The so-called Dream Team – faced with insurmountable physical evidence pointing to its client – chose to distract the predominantly African-American and Hispanic jury with the issue of race after one of the Los Angeles Police Department officers that was among the first at the crime scene, Mark Furhman, was found to have uttered bigoted remarks to a screen-writer as part of a script several years earlier. Simpson’s lawyers accused Fuhrman of planting one of two blood-stained gloves recovered from the crime scene in a back alley of the defendant’s estate, thereby framing Simpson as a result of his color. It was a ridiculous claim with not a shred of evidence, but it proved brilliant as it superseded all of the blood and DNA results that would have – in any other case – led to a slam-dunk conviction. On the morning of Oct. 2, 1995 – as practically every television station in North America showed the ex-Buffalo Bills runner facing the jury (and life imprisonment) – Simpson was acquitted on all counts in a verdict that stunned the nation, and drove a further wedge between black people and white people. During the trial, I kept nearly everything that was published about it. Pictured below are four of the most prominent news magazines.

THE EDITORS OF NEWSWEEK WERE ACCUSED OF DARKENING SIMPSON’S IMAGE ON THE COVER OF THE ABOVE ISSUE, A CLAIM THEY DENIED HAD ANY RACIAL OVERTONE AND WAS DONE PURELY FOR ARTISTIC INTENT.

THE POST-VERDICT ISSUE OF TIME (ABOVE) WAS AMONG THE TOP SELLERS ITS HISTORY.

PROVING THE ADAGE THAT A “PICTURE IS WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS”, WHO CAN FORGET THE GRIEF ON THE FACES OF PRINCES WILLIAM (LEFT) AND HARRY AFTER THEIR MOTHER, DIANA, WAS KILLED IN AN AUTOMOBILE ACCIDENT IN PARIS ON AUG. 31, 1997. THIS TRAGEDY WAS FELT AROUND THE WORLD.

THE “CURSE OF THE KENNEDY’S” TOOK ANOTHER STARTLING HIT IN JULY 1999, WHEN JOHN F. KENNEDY JR. – SON OF THE ASSASSINATED AMERICAN PRESIDENT – DIED WHILE PILOTING A SMALL PLANE TO THE FAMILY COMPOUND IN HYANNISPORT, MASS. (HIS DESTINATION: THE AIRPORT AT MARTHA’S VINEYARD). ON A HAZY NIGHT THAT SHROUDED SUCH VISIBLE FEATURES AS THE HORIZON, KENNEDY INCURRED SPATIAL DISORIENTATION AND HIS PLANE CRASHED INTO THE ATLANTIC OCEAN. HIS BODY WAS RECOVERED SEVERAL DAYS LATER ALONG WITH THAT OF HIS WIFE (CAROLYN BESSETTE-KENNEDY) AND SISTER-IN-LAW (LAUREN BESSETTE).

ANOTHER PASSING THAT TOUCHED THE WORLD WAS THAT OF GEORGE HARRISON (ABOVE), WHO BECAME THE SECOND MEMBER OF THE BEATLES TO PERISH. HARRISON DIED AFTER A LONG STRUGGLE WITH BRAIN CANCER ON NOV. 29, 2001, ALMOST 21 YEARS TO THE WEEK AFTER FELLOW BAND-MEMBER JOHN LENNON HAD BEEN SHOT TO DEATH OUTSIDE HIS APARTMENT IN NEW YORK.

E-mail: howardLberger@gmail.com

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