Monday, 31 August 2020

Ramblin' Gamblin' Men

The 1949 Grey Cup was a classic match-up pitting the dominant 14-2 [including playoffs] - Calgary Stampeders (led by defending Grey Cup champion quarterback Keith Spaith) against the surging 11-4 [including playoffs] - Montreal Alouettes (directed by superstar quarterback Frank Filchock). But this titanic clash would have likely never happened if not for the little matters of a couple of (totally unrelated, but strangely coincidental) gambling "incidents" back in the US a few years earlier. 

Calgary Albertan, Saturday November 26 1949 Cartoon by Laurie Artiss

Filchock was drafted into the NFL in 1938 in the first round by Pittsburgh but was sold to the Washington Redskins mid-year. He spent six seasons in Washington, initially as a back-up but eventually sharing the quarterbacking duties, with Sammy Baugh (missing 1942 and 1943 in the Navy playing with service teams). In 1946 he was signed to a three year $35,000 deal with the New York Giants where he played quarterback and halfback and led the team to first place in the East and a birth in the NFL championship game.

1946 Giants Program Filchock story & 1942 Giants Program cover photo of Hapes 

Joining Filchock in the Giants' backfield was another star player, Merle Hapes, who rushed, received passes, returned kicks and played defence for the team in 1942 and 1946 (with war duty in between).

Literally the day before the 1946 championship game a gambling scandal broke implicating both players as having been offered $2,500 bribes to affect the outcome of the game. Both players had refused the money but Hapes admitted he was approached and Filchock denied it outright.

Hapes was suspended but Filchock was allowed to play and evidently did all that he could to lead the team to victory but the Bears won the title by ten points. Subsequent trials convicted the gamblers involved in the scheme but neither player was charged with any crime. Despite that both players were banned from the NFL and all their affiliate leagues indefinitely.

Representative Giants at Eagles NFL 1946 Program &
common Program roster from the same season 

So in 1947 Frankie Filchock found himself playing for the Hamilton Tigers of the Big Four in Canada. His participation in the at that time still nominally "Amateur" sport in Canada was contentious and the other three teams as well as the league opposed his eligibility. Despite that, the Tigers played him anyways because his drawing power was generating sell out games even though the team was technically forfeiting them by doing so.

By the end of the season the league had reconsidered their position on Filchock, he was named player-coach after the existing coach resigned and he ended up the Eastern All-Star Quarterback, despite the Tigers finishing dead last with a 2-9-1 record.

Frank's salary was considerable (said to be around $7,000 in 1947 and according to the Artiss cartoon was nearer $15,000 by 1949) and he was a major attendance draw in every stadium. Unfortunately for the Tigers there was no gate sharing agreement in the I.R.F.U. and as Hamilton were the ones paying Frank's league leading salary, they eventually withdrew from the league over the dispute.     

Hamilton Tigers 1948 Program Filchock story
 there is no mention of Frank's reason for leaving New York  

Having moved to the O.R.F.U. for the 1948 season the Filchock led Tigers swept away all opposition in the weaker circuit compiling a perfect 9-0 record. They won both league playoff games to claim the championship, then lost the East final to the Ottawa Roughriders of the Big Four.

In 1949 Filchock joined the Montreal Alouettes back in the Big Four and ironically Merle Hapes joined the Tigers in the O.R.F.U. as Hamilton won their second consecutive league title. However Filchock's Alouettes crushed Hapes' Tigers 40-0 in the East final propelling him to his showdown with Spaith in the Grey Cup. Hapes was injured in 1950 but would return to the Tiger-Cats in 1953 and 1954 when he was eligible as a naturalized import.

The Pacific Coast Professional Football League's Hawaiian Warriors 1947 Program and roster
The limited number of program artists meant many covers were reused from league to league

Rewind back to 1947 and the Hawaiian Warriors of the Pacific Coast League were the westernmost and southernmost based professional football team in history. The little known Pacific Coast League operated on the west coast for nine seasons and boasted some pretty fair integrated talent, particularly during the war years and before the NFL and AAFC established franchises in the region in 1946.

Quarterbacking the Warriors was Keith Spaith out of USC who tried out with the Los Angeles Rams but was cut just before the season started. He led the team during their second year of existence into a season defining first place two game showdown with the Los Angeles Bulldogs. The Bulldogs took the first game 35-34 but on December 7th the Warriors took the second game 7-6 to win the league title by finishing with the best record (7-2).

Six days later 15 members of the Warriors were charged with illegally betting on their own team to win, however the bets they placed did not pay off as they failed to win by enough points. The four ringleaders were suspended "for life" but Spaith got away with just being suspended "indefinitely". One of Spaith's teammates, tackle Johnny Aguirre was not implicated in the scandal.

Honolulu Star-Bulletin 1947 Newspaper Clipping & 1949 Calgary Retail Grocery Magazine
Player Photos (in the Stampeders pre-1948 Blue and Gold uniforms)

1948 saw Spaith and Aguirre land in Calgary and while there was some discussion surrounding the circumstances of Spaith's betting scandal, the earlier precedent of Filchock making good in Canada after his little indiscretion softened any opposition. Spaith promptly quarterbacked the Stampeders to a Western Interprovincial Football Union title and then capped off an undefeated season with one of the most famous Grey Cup Dominion championships of all time.

More of the same followed into 1949 as the Stampeders set a record of consecutive wins (22) that still stands today (both Spaith and Aguirre were All-Stars in both '48 and '49). The Stampeders outlasted the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the playoffs to get back to the Grey Cup where Filchock and his Alouettes were waiting.

The contest was expected to be a "Keen Aerial Duel" according to Toronto's Globe and Mail and anticipation for the match was high. Several days before the game scalpers were asking (and getting!) up to $30 a pair for tickets, four times their face value, with expectation that the price was only going up nearer the game.

Globe & Mail, Thursday November 24, 1949

Because these events generally predated the production of CFL trading card collectibles, memorabilia items featuring Spaith and Filchock are mostly of the B&W team and individual media photos varieties (many of which are illustrated in Collecting Canadian Football V2). The exceptions would be Filchock's 1956 Nabisco card as Coach of the Saskatchewan Roughriders and these two great colour shots from the 1953 Northern Photo Postcards.

1953 Northern Photo Filchock on Saskatchewan & Spaith on Calgary Postcards
Filchock is listed as a coach on the back but he was a playing coach  

So on November 27th the two most successful quarterbacks in Canada squared off to determine who would claim the bragging rights for the 1949 Grey Cup. Spaith was riding a championship streak of one PCPFL, one WIFU, one Grey Cup and a second WIFU title in a row. Filchock had played for the NFL championship and then won one ORFU and one IRFU title. Both players would lead their offenses as well as play regular shifts on defence.

As it turned out the game was not as hotly contested as had been anticipated. The snowy day on a terrible field belonged to Filchock and the Alouettes as they prevailed in a relatively lopsided 28-15 victory. Spaith threw for 180 yards but also 4 interceptions, 2 of which were picked off by Filchock himself. Filchock threw for 204 yards while Montreal fumbled 4 times, two of which were recovered by Spaith himself.

Filchock would remain with the Alouettes in 1950 (with a quick 1 game stop back in Baltimore after the CFL season ended as he had been reinstated by the NFL) before heading to Edmonton as player/coach for 1951 & 1952. The Eskimos went to but lost the 1952 Grey Cup and Filchock finished his playing career in Saskatchewan in 1953.

Spaith continued his career in Calgary from 1950 through 1954 but the team made the playoffs only once over that span. Aguirre played a single game in 1950 before calling it quits. Merle Hapes would complete the Canadian championship 4 of a kind hand for these players, winning the Grey Cup in 1953 with the Tiger-Cats.

1950 The Standard Magazine Filchock cover and a variety of colour 16mm Film images

Colour pictures of this time period in Canadian football are pretty rare but here is a great magazine photo of Frank Filchock in 1950 as well as a few low resolution shots of interest:

Clockwise from top left
  - Keith Spaith warming up before the day of the 1949 Grey Cup game
  - Frank Filchock behind center in the 1949 Grey Cup game
  - Merle Hapes during a regular season Tiger-Cats game in 1954
  - Johnny Aguirre on the line in the 1949 Grey Cup game

If it hadn't been for a few players with an inclination to scratch a betting itch on opposite sides of the continent in US leagues, the history of this fascinating era in the struggle for Canadian football supremacy would have likely been something altogether different. The penalties imposed by the NFL and the PCPFL in these cases definitely resulted in a winning wager for the Canadian game.

Wednesday, 22 July 2020

Patch Permutation Particulars

You may have encountered a number of different CFL logo cloth patches that date from about a half-century ago and wondered which ones were issued when by whom. This post will try to shed some light on the various patch sets, their related packaging and a rough chronology of their release.

Electrohome Late Sixties Patch Point of Sale Display

I believe that Electrohome was the first to sponsor an issue of these particular types of team logo patches, probably in 1969 but also likely extending into at least 1970. The above groovy psychedelic point of sale display board may have been used in electronic stores or in the electronic departments of department stores or possibly in convenience stores.

The patches are roughly 2" X 2 5/8" in size and generally just include the team nicknames, except for B.C. and to differentiate the two Rider teams. They even managed to spell both of the Rider team names correctly. The Eskimos and Alouettes team logos were curiously featured on helmets while the rest of the teams have just their period logos.

Electrohome Late Sixties Hamilton and Winnipeg Patches in the original packaging

The patches were distributed in individual plastic packets with a stapled paper label holding the patch securely inside. The labels indicate that the patches were a licensed product of the CFL as the league was at this time just in the early stages of standardizing the approved usage of their intellectual property for products such as these.

The patches were manufactured by Voyageur Emblems located in the then village of Virgil, Ontario which is now part of Niagara-on-the-Lake. The US headquarters of Voyageur was just on the other side of the Niagara river, across the border in Sanborn, New York. 

CFL Properties Early Seventies Saskatchewan and Montreal Large Patches &
Electrohome 1969 Montreal Small Patch for comparison 

Around the same time Voyageur also produced a set of larger sized patches without the Electrohome branding at roughly 3 1/8" X 4 3/8" in size. All of the same designs were used with a couple of minor differences here and there, adding the city names where they were missing before and in some cases swapping the positions of the city and the nicknames on the patch. The Alouettes also got a different colour scheme for their helmet and logo.

Normally I would assign a particular issue to the issuer (first Electrohome) and not the manufacturer or distributor (here in both cases Voyageur) unless there was no other alternative. So I am calling these larger patches CFL Properties as that would be the name that their licensing division would soon adopt, and it aligns with the next set of the same patches but a different distributor.

CFL Properties 1970 Toronto & B.C. Large Patches

Now labeled as copyright C.F.L.P. (Properties) the very same large format patches were also distributed by Toronto's Newmar-Tribex Corporation (Netco) with a variety of slightly different packaging insert cards. Whether this was a different emblem producing company or just a different way to sell more labels in different markets is unknown.

CFL Properties 1970 Ottawa & Toronto Large Patches

The example Rough Rider patch above shows a card where STICK-ON is blacked out and indeed Netco distributed CFL Properties stickers and iron-ons of the same logo designs in a similar number of different packaging configurations at the same time.

CFL Properties Early Seventies Ottawa, Edmonton & Toronto Small Patches

Subsequently CFL Properties re-issued the original Electrohome small patches using a slightly reconfigured label of the same earlier Large Patch package design. Voyageur once again produced these items and by then (probably 1971) they had moved their Canadian operations to a different small community; Alliston, Ontario.

Alliston was NW of Toronto and is now part of an aggregation called New Tecumseh. As you can see from the images above some packages had a printed back and some were clear.

Electrohome Late Sixties and CFL Properties Early Seventies Small Calgary Patches &
Voyageur Mid Seventies Hamilton Shield Patch

The comparison above shows that the two patches from different issues were not exactly identical, with the earlier patch having a better formed silhouette and the later having a bit more detail on the horse. However differences are not always notable on other team patches and maybe it was just a different machine that the emblems were produced on that caused the variations.

Eventually Voyageur put out their own patch issue that was not specifically CFL licensed and had a Hamilton patch that referenced the football team with a tiger design. But there is currently no record of any other known patches from this set that relate any of the other league cities to their football franchises.

1973 Sears Christmas Wishbook catalogue page & the actual Calgary and Winnipeg Patches

Finally if all of those patches were not enough for a CFL fanatic, well Simpson-Sears had a "Very Special Gift Idea" that included a set of team helmet logo patches that you could sew onto your pajamas! You have to admit that you can't get much more special than that! These patches are unusual in that the helmets face left instead of the more traditional facing right.

For some of us it is very hard to believe that 50 years has passed since these cool patch collectibles were marketed when we were kids. But whether you remember those days or not, anybody can relive them by picking up one or more of their favorite team's vintage logo patches.

Monday, 29 June 2020

Historical CFL Publications make for Fascinating Collectible Chronicles

While searching for things to add to their collections CFL enthusiasts will often come across copies of old newspapers and magazines that chronicled the issues and events of Canadian Football as they happened. This month's blog will provide a quick overview of three of the most commonly encountered publications and a handy reference guide as to exactly how many of each were issued when.

First up is the grand-daddy informational periodical of the sport : The Canadian Football News (CFN) that was launched in 1951, five years after the same individuals had launched the Hockey news. CFN would cover all levels of football from junior to the Canadian Football League (CFL), on a national level for thirty consecutive seasons in a highly entertaining yet informative manner complete with cold hard statistics, feature articles, action photos, and cartoons.

CFN Vol. 1 No. 11 Nov 3, 1951  &  Vol. 5 No. 4 April 1955

More than fifteen years ago CFL researcher and enthusiast Rick Pauloski catalogued and indexed the contents of the first 17 years of CFN. These efforts, along with the well rendered white cover page images, were then partially published in the short-lived Canadian Football Historical Journal.

I am now happy to be able to extract the Volume and Issue data from that work, and augment it with the last 13 years of CFN info to provide what I believe is the only complete listing of these items known to exist. 

1951 15 Issues - Weekly on Saturdays - Vol. 1 No. 1 Aug 25 to No. 15 Dec 1

1952 22 Issues - Monthly - Vol. 2 No. 1 Jan to No. 7 Jul (7)
                         - Weekly on Saturdays - Vol. 2 No, 8 Aug 30 to No. 22 Dec 6 (15)

1953 22 Issues - Monthly - Vol. 3 No. 1 Jan to No. 7 Jul (7)
                               [Vol. 3 No. 1 Jan Incorrectly labeled Vol. 2 No. 23]
                               [Vol. 3 No. 3 Mar Incorrectly labeled Vol. 3 No. 2]
                          - Weekly on Saturdays - Vol. 3 No, 8 Aug 29 to No. 22 Dec 5 (15) 

1954 26 Issues  - Monthly - Vol. 4 No. 1 Jan to No. 6 Jun (6)
                          - Weekly on Saturdays - Vol. 4 No, 7 Jul 24 to No. 26 Dec 4 (20) 
                               [Vol. 4 No. 16 Sep 25 Incorrectly labeled Vol. 4 No. 15]

1955 26 Issues  - Monthly - Vol. 5 No. 1 Jan to No. 6 Jun (6)
                          - Weekly on Saturdays - Vol. 5 No, 7 Jul 23 to No. 26 Dec 3 (20) 

The publication was printed on standard newsprint, 12" X 16" format with usually 12 pages per issue but occasionally more, and then eventually expanding to more commonly 16 pages.

CFN Vol. 6 No. 26 Dec 1 1956  &  Vol. 9 No. 4 Aug 22, 1959

Such was the popularity of Canadian Football during the late fifties that a rival newspaper called Football Fanfare was published for two seasons. But by 1959 it was amalgamated with CFN as noted on the masthead of the image above right.

1956 26 Issues  - Monthly - Vol. 6 No. 1 Jan to No. 6 Jun (6)
                          - Weekly on Saturdays - Vol. 6 No. 7 Jul 21 to No. 26 Dec 1 (20)
                              [Vol. 6 No. 8 Jul 28 Incorrectly labeled Vol. 7 No. 8]
                              [Vol. 6 No. 9 Aug 4 Incorrectly labeled Vol. 7 No. 9]
                              [Vol. 6 No. 10 Aug 11 Incorrectly labeled Vol. 7 No. 10]
                              [Vol. 6 No. 11 Aug 18 Incorrectly labeled Vol. 7 No. 11]

1957 20 Issues  - Vol. 7 No. 1 Fri Jul 26 - Weekly on Saturdays - Vol. 7 No. 2 Aug 3 to No. 20 Dec 14

1958 20 Issues - Weekly on Saturdays - Vol. 8 No. 1 Jul 26 to No. 19 Nov 29, No. 20 Dec 13

1959 20 Issues - Weekly on Saturdays - Vol. 9 No. 1 Aug 1 to No. 20 Dec 12

In certain cases the Volume or Issue number printed on the papers are in error, making it hard to know what you are looking at. I have noted all those instances that are known in the listings but I was unable to verify about 26 issues from 1956 - 1959, 1 from 1964 and 10 from Football Fanfare in 1958.

CFN Vol. 10 No. 4 Sep 3, 1960  &  Vol. 13 No. 1 Aug 10, 1963

When you do happen across these periodicals issues in good shape should be purchasable for anywhere from about $7 - $20 range going backwards chronologically. Naturally the early fifties copies are the hardest to acquire. Through the sixties decade the magazine was typically 16 pages in length but occasionally longer.

1960 18 Issues - Weekly on Saturdays - Vol. 10 No. 1 Aug 13 to No. 18 Dec 10

1961 18 Issues - Weekly on Saturdays - Vol. 11 No. 1 Aug 12 to No. 18 Dec 9

1962 18 Issues - Weekly on Saturdays - Vol. 12 No. 1 Aug 11 to No. 18 Dec 8

1963 18 Issues - Weekly on Saturdays - Vol. 13 No. 1 Aug 10 to No. 18 Dec 7

Besides their obvious general historical worth, CFN is a great source of vintage game roster participation information. This is particularly relevant since a massive lack of forethought resulted in all CFL official game rosters held by the league prior to 1963 being DISCARDED! when the offices were moved from Winnipeg to Toronto.

CFN Vol. 15 No. 10 Oct 9 1965  &  Vol. 17 No. 12 Oct 28, 1967 

In 1965 after fourteen years of B&W editions, colour was finally splashed across the front page in the advertisements and the headline banners alternating red and yellow.

1964 18 Issues - Weekly on Saturdays - Vol. 14 No. 1 Aug 8 to No. 18 Dec 5

1965 18 Issues - Weekly on Saturdays - Vol. 15 No. 1 Aug 7 to No. 18 Dec 4

1966  18 Issues - Weekly on Saturdays - Vol. 16 No. 1 Aug 6 to No. 18 Dec 3

1967  18 Issues - Weekly on Saturdays - Vol. 17 No. 1 Aug 12 to No. 18 Dec 9
                              [Vol. 17 No. 4 Sep 2 Incorrectly labeled Vol. 17 No. 14]

CFN Vol. 18 No.1 Aug-Sep 1968  &  Vol. 21 No. 4 Nov 1971

A radical change was initiated in 1968 to a magazine format with more front cover colour but also often with quite crude colourization of parts of B&W photos as well. The publication schedule was drastically cut back to only four issues per year but the magazines ran about 60 pages of content.

1968 4 Issues - Cross-Monthly - Vol. 18 No. 1 Aug-Sep to No.4 Nov-Dec

1969 4 Issues - Monthly - Vol.19 No. 1 Aug to No. 4 Nov
1970 4 Issues - Monthly - Vol.20 No. 1 Aug to No. 4 Nov

1971 4 Issues - Monthly - Vol.21 No. 1 Aug to No. 4 Nov

1972 4 Issues - Monthly - Vol.22 No. 1 Aug to No. 4 Nov

The Sept 1971 edition was the only one of the magazines issued with a full colour picture on the cover featuring Calgary Coach Jim Duncan and Running Back Hugh McKinnis.

CFN Vol. 23 No. 1 Aug 1973  &  Vol. 26 No. 2 Sep 1976 

Starting in 1973 the CFN went back to a newsprint format, four per year with a lot more front cover colour but still B&W photos. These issues typically ran 28 to 32 pages each.

1973  4 Issues - Monthly - Vol.23 No. 1 Aug to No. 4 Nov

1974  4 Issues - Monthly - Vol.24 No. 1 Aug to No. 4 Nov

1975  4 Issues - Monthly - Vol.25 No. 1 Aug to No. 4 Nov

1976  4 Issues - Monthly - Vol.26 No. 1 Aug to No. 4 Nov

CFN Vol. 29 No. 3 Oct 1979  &  Vol. 30 No. 1 Aug 1980 

Finally beginning in 1979 for their 29th and 30th seasons, CFN adopted colour photography for the cover photos.

1977 4 Issues - Monthly - Vol.27 No. 1 Aug to No. 4 Nov

1978 4 Issues - Monthly - Vol.28 No. 1 Aug to No. 4 Nov

1979 4 Issues - Monthly - Vol.29 No. 1 Aug to No. 4 Nov

1980 4 Issues - Monthly - Vol.30 No. 1 Aug to No. 4 Nov

And after thirty consecutive seasons of reporting on Football in Canada, the CFN stopped publication after the last issue in November 1980.

FF 1st-Year Second Edition Jul 13, 1957  &  Second Year Oct 4, 1958  

As mentioned earlier, Football Fanfare (FF) was a direct competitor of CFN in 1957 and 1958, partially owned and heavily contributed to by Tex Coulter. You can read more about Tex and his relationship to Canadian Football history here.

1957 24 Issues - Weekly on Saturdays - 1st Year First Edition Jul 6 to 24th Edition Dec 14

1958 23 Issues - Weekly on Saturdays - Second Year Jul 5, then Jul 19 to Dec 13

FF are understandably a fair bit harder to come by than CFN, and you might expect to pay more for copies of these publications compared to CFN of the same seasons.

TD Vol. 1 No. 1 Jul 29, 1960  & Vol. 1 No. 3 Sep 2, 1960 

Finally in 1960 a magazine called Touchdown (TD) focusing on CFL football was published out of Vancouver. The magazine varied from about 20 to 30 pages over the course of its four year existence.

1960 10 Issues - Monthly - Vol. 1 No. 1 Jul 29 to No. 2 Aug 12 (2)
                         - Bi-Weekly Vol. 1 No. 3 Sep 2 to No. 10 Dec 15 (8)

1961 16 Issues - Monthly - Vol.2 No. 11 Jan 21 to No. 17 Jul (7)
                         - Semi-Monthly Vol. 2 No. 18 Aug 15 to No. 25 Nov 30 (8)
                              [Vol. 2 No. 14 Apr 21 Incorrectly labeled Vol. 2 No. 13]
                         - Monthly - Vol. 2 No. 26 Dec (1)

TD Vol. 3 No. 37 Nov 30, 1962  &  Vol. 4 No. 44 Sep 30, 1963

By 1961 it had been subtitled "The All-Canadian Sports Magazine" and also started including some non-football content. TD often featured one particular athlete or administrator, a game action photo or the Grey Cup on its covers.

1962 12 Issues - Bi-Monthly - Vol.3 No. 27 Feb-Mar to No. 29 Jun- Jul (3)
                         - Semi-Monthly Vol. 3 No. 30 Aug 15 to No. 37 Nov 30 (8)
                         - Bi-Monthly - Vol. 3 No. 38 Dec-Jan '63 (1)

1963 11 Issues - Bi-Monthly - Vol.4 No. 39 Feb-Mar to No. 41 Jun- Jul (3)
                         - Semi-Monthly Vol. 4 No. 42 Aug 15 to No. 49 Nov 30 (8)

Circulation was fairly high as the magazine had a deal to be distributed to at least some of the club's season ticket holder bases. But after four years of publication the economics must have not made sense anymore and they ceased operations.

So there you have it, with a bit of effort and determination and a reasonably large budget, you could be the proud owner of 393 different issues of the Canadian Football News, 47 editions of Football Fanfare and 49 copies of Touchdown magazine. Which would constitute a pretty comprehensive archive of the the glory years of Canadian Football.

Thanks to Mike Smith-Knutsen for help with some of the listings.

Saturday, 30 May 2020

The TOUCHDOWN ... is Under Review - (Volume 2 Update)

Modern football fans can relate to the fact that today a touchdown is not really a touchdown until the automatic review and any potential challenges are resolved, so you are never really sure you can celebrate until then. Similarly I have always been a little uneasy with the listings for the 1971 Chevron B.C. Lions Touchdown promotion issue in Collecting Canadian Football Volume 2, and so with some new information to ponder I thought a review was in order.

The information I had from B.C. Lions memorabilia expert John Wirtanen was that each of the 40 base cards in the set could come with either the Touchdown back, the CFL Info back or the Referee Signals back. I felt that this was somewhat logically unlikely just because of the printing logistics but since John's knowledge of this area dwarfs mine (or just about anybodies), I was not about to list the cards differently.

The presence of an unopened panel recently on ebay got me thinking that it should be possible to draw some reasonable conclusions about the cards and their backs and the likelihood of what panels were produced. If you think about how many fill-ups there were per day at all the Standard Oil & Chevron stations in B.C. across the 4 months that the promotion ran (August - November) there must have been millions of panels given out. So then why so few unopened panels seem to have survived is unknown.

1971 Chevron Touchdown unopened panel of three cards
I've left the background margins so you can better see the perforation edges

From the image above you can see that the unopened panel presents with the promotion title back facing the viewer with the non-perforated edge at right, meaning cards with the Touchdown back should all have the straight edge on the left when looking at the player. The card in the middle of the pack will show a CFL Info back or a Referee Signals back and will be perforated on both vertical edges. Finally the card on the right of the panel (tucked in the middle when unopened) was normally the contest entry form for the grand prize Quantas trip around the world. These cards would have the straight edge on the right when looking at the card front.

Theoretical layout for the inside of an opened panel

I've mocked up a layout of how the cards would have been positioned above and below, but just selected the two player cards at random, there is no information that these two would have been on the same panel. So in it's simplest form with 40 cards to be distributed via panels it might make sense to just have 20 different panels all matched with the contest card.

A quick survey of which cards are available currently for sale via various online platforms where the backs of the cards can be verified in fact does come up with 17 Touchdown backs, 12 CFL Info backs and 6 Referee Signals backs. Leaving 5 cards unaccounted for that would make for an even 20 of each if there were 3 more Touchdowns and 2 more of the other two.

However we don't know how large the sheets were when the cards were printed as none are known to have survived and it is certainly probable that more combinations than just 20 of two players together would have been laid out for printing. On the other hand the amount of coordinated effort it would have taken to make sure each player had each of the three different back types doesn't seem likely to have been warranted. The goal of the promotion was to sell Chevron gasoline, not ensure even distribution of card fronts and backs permutations.     

Theoretical layout for the outside of an opened panel
(although an outside identical to this absolutely for sure was issued)

But it turns out that certain packs had so far uncatalogued instant winner cards, one would imagine instead of the contest entry card although it might have also been an additional attached card. The person finding an instant winner card could redeem them for any of the associated merchandise of the promotion. That is the collectors wallet, the wall chart, the football, the football game or 100! more panels of cards.

The only non-football prize was a set of Chevron B.C. Discovery Guides that were issued for the 100th anniversary of the province at the start of the year. Since the prizes available varied quite a bit in dollar value it is probable that more than one type of winner card existed as well. Also since the printed sheets contained prize cards with monetary value they were probably pretty carefully accounted for as per the provincial gaming regulations of the day. 

Abysmally bad newspaper scan but the kid is holding an Instant Winner Card &
the 1971 B.C. Discovery Guides you could have won

At some point in time after mid October Chevron also began to distribute a bonus card that you could exchange for three of the nine players who had joined the team after the promotion began. Highbaugh and Clark came in late August; Tomlin, Boice and Duich in September & James, Weathers, Kelsey and Lyons by October 16th. That left about one month for the bonus order form to be distributed in packs, again possibly in place of the contest card. The bonus cards themselves were straight edged and there is no indication that they were ever included in packs.

The fairly rare bonus order card &
one of the extremely rare Bonus Cards and its distinctive back

So back to our hypothesis of which players had which backs, the seller indicates the unopened panel contains Trevor Ekdahl and George Anderson. My survey showed Ekdahl came with the TD back and Anderson fronts (never saw the back) show all perfs so those both would fit his description and my initial hypothesis of 20 TD backs and 20 CFL Info/Referee backs.

Except Ekdahl is also known to exist with all perfs meaning on at least some panels he was the center card, and in fact another example is Jim Young with a TD back and an all perfs version. So we have proof then that at least some players were arranged on sheets in different slots per panel, and therefore have different backs and different edges.     

Trevor Ekdahl all perfs edges card and portion of card with left straight edge &
Jim Young left straight edge card and portion of card with all perfs edges
(the scan is not clear but Young's card also has perfs at bottom edge) 

Finally one last variable to consider is that it appears that the bonus cards order form also allowed the collector to write in the name of one of the regular cards to help complete their sets. Were these regular cards just taken from a large stock of the normal sheets print runs, or were they specially printed to fulfill these orders, and then if so who knows what their backs and edges configurations would be.

I'm afraid that these questions are unlikely to be answered anytime soon if at all so B.C. Lions master set collectors will have to make do with whatever card combinations they happen upon. They might also be on the lookout for the Chevron B.C. Lions special football, of which thousands must have been purchased in the lower mainland and yet I have never come across an actual image of one.

Portion of promotional Advertisement showing the special Touchdown football &
Portion of newspaper advertisement showing the pump top and window Touchdown signs 

Perhaps one is sitting in the attic of a retired B.C. Chevron gas station owner who also happened to keep examples of his business promotional ephemera such as the gas pump top signs and the dealer window (adhesive on the face) poster that all participating stations would have exhibited. Maybe even a copy of the elusive wall-chart for which no advertising picture or no surviving copy has yet surfaced either.

1971 Coleco Quarterback Strategy Game

One of the products that was available for purchase as part of the promotion was the Quarterback Strategy Football game that was manufactured by Coleco. Coleco of course was best known during this era for producing the large scale vibrating football games that have a great visual appeal but did not provide much in terms of satisfying play value.

These and many other CFL games have been catalogued thanks to the invaluable information and images I received from Edmonton collector Garry Hlady. I hope that the day is not too far off now that I can make all of these game listings available for collectors.

Additional information or images that helped with this post was provided by Vic Dougan & Mike Smith-Knutsen. And in case you were wondering Alfred Metcalf of Elliot Street, Vancouver won the Quantas trip around the world.

Thursday, 30 April 2020

Roughrider's Tradition Generates More Than a Half-Century of Themed Memorabilia

On November 2, 1953 the Saskatchewan Roughriders held their first $100 a plate team fundraising dinner, establishing a tradition that continues to this day approaching seventy years later. For a small market team this revenue was literally the difference in keeping the team afloat for many decades thanks to the fervent support of the team's fans. One hundred dollars in 1953 was roughly equivalent to $1000 today so this was no small financial sacrifice for those that purchased tickets.

The grand-prize for this dinner was a (presumably new) car and according to Melville's column all attendees went home with some sort of a prize. Whether any of those prizes were specifically made to commemorate the dinner is unknown for both 1953 and 1954, but in subsequent years the team started awarding items that were especially produced for the event.

Luckily Saskatchewan super-collector Barry Shefernack has spent considerable time and effort chronicling just what exactly those items were for each year, and he has graciously allowed me to illustrate a subset of these interesting artifacts in this blog post. Barry hopes to publish a comprehensive reference on this material at some point in the future. 

November 4th,  1953 Tom Melville column in the Regina Leader-Post reporting on the 1st Dinner

For the 3rd annual dinner in 1955, besides the car and the other prizes distributed via draws the engraved lighter shown below is believed to be the first known dinner particular prize. Smoking accessories were a popular category for prizes and the 1957 ceramic ash-tray is the first known item that actually is labeled as being from the dinner.

1955 Lighter & 1957 Ashtray 

The dinner continued to be a solid draw through the late fifties with a record 387 attendees in 1958.
Another popular category for dinner prizes was glassware, as the dated combination below shows. The undated glass was possibly marketed separately after the event using the same graphic design.
In 1960 three automobiles were featured as draw prizes.

1959 Glasses and Ice Bucket & Undated Glass
(pics taken on a brown couch)

Attendance at the dinner and subsequent profit for the team grew as the Riders slowly built a contender in the first half of the sixties. No doubt the extra funds helped greatly with signing players who would soon power the team through their most consistent period of success. By 1964 the record for sales was up to 709 tickets and the following year the team started bringing in big-name speakers like boxing legends Jack Dempsey and Gene Tunney. By mid-decade the lucky draw winners were going home with new Cadillacs!

1962 Metal Tray with facsimile autographs

In many years there was more than one themed item awarded and the list is not absolute as new items occasionally come to light. A number of attractive metal trays were made in different years that make for fine display pieces for today's collector.

In 1966 after 14 years of annual dinners, the team would finally advance to the Grey Cup for the first time since 1951. A points based system was in place to allocate Grey Cup tickets to the fan base, most points getting the first shot at seats. Points were earned for season ticket holders, program advertisers or patrons, active team memberships and a number of other things but a significant number of points (4) was for buying the annual dinner ticket.     

The Riders captured their first championship in team history that year and promptly commemorated the event with the stein pictured below at the next season's dinner. There would be repeat trips to the big game four times over the next decade but no further opportunity to theme a dinner prize to a victory.

1967 Grey Cup Champions (1966) Stein & 1971 Steak Board with Dinner Ticket

Entering the digital age the 1969 organizing committee tried to replace the manual draw process in place since the dinner's inauguration with a new-fangled IBM computerized system. The system proved buggy and caused delays resulting in it being abandoned after two years. Prizes awarded to the dinner patrons had reached a pretty significant level, $25,000 worth in 1971 for example.

Somewhat mind-bogglingly from today's perspective, a female reporter attended the 1974 dinner and by doing so caused something of a stir. The event was traditionally (although not officially) male only. Apparently the last time a few women had attended as ticket buyers was in the fifties. By 1975 the dinner topped the 1000 attendee mark for the first time.

Despite the robust fan contributions the Rider's team finances were in big trouble. In 1974 the team lost over $100K on football operations but managed to break even with the dinner proceeds and other fundraising activities. In 1975 they lost $100K even with the fundraising income. 1976 was better because of the Grey Cup proceeds but by 1977 the annual dinner ticket cost was raised to $200 to help stem the tide. Glen Dobbs, the Riders' QB from their 1951 Grey Cup bid was the guest speaker for the 25th anniversary dinner.

1977 Silver Anniversary Mug & 1980 Stadium Seat Cushion with Blanket inside 

Towards the end of the decade the team started hemorrhaging money.  A stadium expansion was sought and delivered to allow for more revenue from ticket sales but it was hard to attract the needed additional fans with the team posting back to back 2-14 records in the 1979 and 1980 seasons.  Things were bleak but for the final home game in 1979 the Rider Pride slogan was officially harnessed to convince fans to pack Taylor Field to capacity to help prevent the potential loss of the franchise.

For the most part the eighties were a brutal decade for the team with eight last or second last place finishes in ten years. During that time the high dinner attendance was maintained even with the doubling of the cost and subsequent profits helped keep the team in business. For the team's 75th Anniversary in 1985 the ticket cost was bumped to $250 and an All-Time Roughrider All-Star team was selected and living members attended the banquet.

The 1987 event was listed as the first annual team Hall of Fame dinner and a selection of nine initial players and administrators was made. The associated dinner prize (beer bottles) was one of the rare times that individuals were featured on the items and so these were catalogued in Collecting Canadian Football Volume 2, as was the very nice 1977 prize Mirror with Ron Lancaster and Glenn Dobbs. In 1988 the Hall of Fame was renamed the Plaza of Honor with nine more members selected and the actual Plaza was constructed outside of Taylor Field.

1986 Set of Playing Cards & 1994 Document Bag

Long suffering Rider supporters finally were rewarded in 1989 when an unexpected playoff run from 3rd place, knocking off one of the most powerful teams in CFL history (Eskimos 16-2) along the way, culminated in a dramatic last play Grey Cup victory.

The now renamed Plaza of Honor Annual Dinner had its first pin produced in 1990 and except for  2003 a pin has been produced every year since (with some limited edition variations as well). In 2017 the spelling was changed to the more Canadian Plaza of Honour and a selection of these pins are illustrated.

Selection of Plaza of Honor Pins

The nineties were another tough decade for the franchise, with the exception of another Cinderella run to a 1997 Grey Cup appearance, the Riders would not win another playoff game the whole decade. Budget issues were a constant strain (both for Regina and the league in general) and the team was millions in debt with survival sometimes dependent on emergency season ticket appeals to stave off collapse.

And yet despite the lack of on-field success, Rider fans kept pouring their support into the annual dinner (sponsored by Sasktel from 1991) and the Friends of the Riders Touchdown Lottery with both fundraisers generating millions in cumulative support over the years. Dinner attendance was solidly near the 1000 mark every year and at some point the plaza induction ceremonies began to be televised on local TV.

By the last dinner of the century 76 players/builders had been inducted into the Plaza of Honor and more importantly the team had started to finish in the black again and reduce their accumulated deficit, at least in some seasons. In 2000 a record 1271 fans bought dinner tickets, still at $250 a pop plus gst.

2003 Clock & 2007 Folding Tray with facsimile inductee autographs

The turn of the century saw the Roughriders franchise finally turning the corner on being habitually on the verge of  financial collapse. Their well-oiled fundraising machine was one reason as the dinner alone was pumping close to a quarter of a million dollars into the team every year (the ticket fee was upped to $300 in 2002).

But other factors contributed as well, profits from hosting the Grey Cup in 2003, a general increase in television revenue for the leagues' teams and most importantly a better product on the field. The Riders became competitive again and in 2007 they posted their best record (12-6) for 37 years since the 1970 squad went 14-2! That same year saw a record 1412 attend the dinner and the team capped off their resurgence with a third Grey Cup.

A winning team and frequent Grey Cup trips meant consistent sellouts in Regina further enhancing the club's bottom line. Tom Shepherd, the mastermind behind their fundraising activities who had been helping in that capacity since 1966 was elected to the Canadian Football Hall of Fame as a builder in 2008. 

2009 Grey Cup Champions (1989) Framed Collage

In 2010 the Rider's three Grey Cup winning teams were inducted into the Plaza for the 100th Anniversary of the franchise. Attractive championship team framed collages were issued as dinner prizes for each team in the surrounding years.

The dinner continued to attract roughly the same amount of support as it always had through to 2016 which was the final year of the old format and the final year of dinner specific gifts. With the move to the new Stadium in 2017 the induction was modified to being more of a game day event with tiered pricing. Each year's Plaza inductees had been celebrated during the home game nearest to the dinner date for some time prior in any case.

As of 2019 131 players & builders and three teams have been elected to the Plaza of Honour. Over the span from 1953 - 2016 there at least 70 known Annual Dinner gift items and probably a dozen or so more yet to be discovered.

With a considerable financial surplus, a new state of the art stadium, a rabid fan base and salary cap rules to keep the league competitive, the days of Saskatchewan fans needing to wait decades between improbable Grey Cup underdog runs anymore appear to be over (as shown by their 2013 win). It is also fair to suppose that without the Annual Dinner the Roughriders would probably have been a one-time champion team that folded long ago as a footnote in CFL history.

Sunday, 22 March 2020

Star Studded Lineup Comes Up Short - Early 60's Argos (Volume 2 Updates & Additions)

In most professional sport leagues the vast majority of players are not fortunate enough to win a championship. Many superstar caliber players perform their heroics for their whole careers without ever attaining their ultimate goal for themselves, their teammates and their franchise's fans.

Because the CFL is such a compact league the chances of Grey Cup success are considerably elevated as compared to modern leagues with 30+ teams. Yet still there are numerous historical scenarios where the number of star players aligned together during the same few seasons on a particular team, can only lead one to wonder - How the hell did these guys not win anything?

The Toronto Argonauts of the early 1960's are one such team and this blog post will review some of their great players and of course their related memorabilia, with some previously uncatalogued super rare items as a bonus.

Dick Shatto
Late 1950's Uncatalogued Argonauts Team Issue Action Photo &
Early 1960's Argonauts Team Issue Photo (most likely 1961)

The original Argonaut superstar of the professional era was Dick Shatto who played for 12 seasons (1954-1965) in double blue. Unfortunately for him during most of that time the team was very uncompetitive only making the playoffs once and finishing dead last four times prior to the turn of the decade. Nevertheless Shatto put up phenomenal seasonal and career numbers while playing multiple positions (and both ways for numerous seasons) and incredibly still holds many team aggregate statistical records today, more than fifty years after he retired.

During his career he was a divisional All-Star 8 times, All Canadian All-Star 2* times, the team's nominee for Most Outstanding Player 7 times and the Eastern Division MOP twice (runner up to the League MOP). Shatto was elected to the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1975. Naturally he is featured in all of the classic CFL card sets of that era (cereal issues & Topps) as well as the potato chip and soft drink caps novelties. His team issued obscure odd-ball items are of course a lot more challenging  to acquire.

* The All-Canadian All-Star designation did not begin until 1962, so for many of the player's discussed a lot of their careers were played before this was achievable.

Jim Rountree - Early 1960's  Argonauts Team Issue Photo (most likely 1960)
Dick Fouts - 1967 print of 1962 Graphic Industries Action Photo (with B.C. Lions)  

Towards the end of the fifties the Argonauts started to add more talented players to the team including Halfback/Defensive Back Jim Rountree (10 seasons, 1958-1967) who became a divisional All-Star 7 times, All Canadian All-Star 1* time, and the team's nominee for Most Outstanding Player once. Rountree would also play both ways well into the sixties and also owns some team records to this day.

Manning the Defensive Line was All-American from Missouri Dick Fouts who split his career between the Argos and the B.C. Lions. He played (6 seasons in Toronto, 1957-61, 1967) and became a divisional All-Star 5 times, All Canadian All-Star 3* times, and his team's nominee for Most Outstanding Lineman twice.

The 1960 team photos are generally helmeted with more tree foliage visible in the background and the 1961 team photos (see Shatto above) have generally no helmets and low buildings in the background. I could not locate a Fouts photo from his early Toronto years but you can see his 1959 Argonaut Seven-Up photo in this earlier post.

Cookie Gilchrist
1962 News Wire Photo using Cookie's 1961 Argonauts Team Issue Photo
1960 Uncatalogued Argonauts Seven-Up Photo

In 1959 the Argos added arguably one of the best players in all of football when they traded for Cookie Gilchrist who would run, catch, kick and play linebacker while performing for 3 seasons (1959-1961) with Toronto. Over the course of his six year CFL career Gilchrist was named a divisional All-Star 6 times (in 1960 on BOTH sides of the ball) and was his team's nominee for Most Outstanding Player three times and the Eastern Division MOP once.

Gilchrist won championships in every league he ever played in, for the Kitchener-Waterloo Dutchmen of the O.R.F.U. in 1955, the Hamilton Tiger Cats of the CFL in 1957 and the Buffalo Bills of the AFL in 1964. After leaving Toronto Cookie dominated in the old American Football League being named to the AFL 1st All-Star team for four consecutive seasons and was named the Associated Press and United Press International AFL Most Valuable Player in 1962.

The general consensus on Cookie Gilchrist in the US is that he was the greatest player you've never heard of, because from an American perspective he spent eight years north of the border and 6 years in the AFL.

A couple of years ago on ebay the fantastic uncatalogued 1960 Argonaut Seven-Up Photo of Cookie showed up. While the Seven-Up Photos (previously only the 1958 & 1959 issues were known) are definitely extremely rare, I try to price these things quite conservatively in the guides. The most expensive listing being the 1958 Dick Shatto at $37.50 for NRMT. The Cookie Gilchrist photo sold for around $250.00 with all fees and USD conversions in.

Dave Mann
1960 Uncatalogued Argonauts Seven-Up Photo & Photo Envelope 

The only other currently known 1960 Argonaut Seven-Up Photo is the Dave Mann. Mann joined the Argonauts in 1958, had to sit out the 1959 season for a drug bust trial and subsequently suited up for the Argos for 12 seasons (1958, 1960-1970). Prior to his CFL career he played fours years at Oregon State University, concurrently managed two seasons with the Fort Ord Army Warriors west coast military team and then three seasons for the Chicago Cardinals in the NFL.

Nineteen + years is a long time to be playing football, especially when you rush the ball, receive passes, punt, kick, return kickoffs & punts and play a little bit of defence. Dave "Super" Mann was a divisional All-Star 2 times. His 1960 Seven-Up photo sold for around $150 CAD all in, proving that when CFL collectors see something they realize they will probably never see again, they tend to bid considerable amounts.

Tobin Rote
1961 Pre-Season Program Dedicated Player Picture
1960 Argonauts Program Seven-Up sponsored Roster Listing   

In 1960 the Argonauts added what should have been the final piece of the championship capable puzzle. Rote had a stellar 10 year career in the NFL with Green Bay and Detroit setting many impressive Quarterbacking records and leading the  Lions to the 1957 NFL championship with one of the greatest playoff performances up to that time in history crushing the Cleveland Browns 59-14. Rote received either first or second team All-Star votes from the news services in 1955 and 1956.

During Rote's Argonauts career of 3 seasons (1960-1962) he set numerous then CFL quarterbacking records and more importantly piloted the Argos into first place for the first time since 1937! Rote was never named to a divisional All-Star team but in 1960 he had more attempts, more completions, more yards, way more touchdown passes and a higher QB rating than the Eastern All-Star QB Sam Etcheverry.

Just like Cookie when Rote left Toronto he went to the AFL and promptly dominated there as well leading the 1963 San Diego Chargers to an 11-3 season and a 51-10 blowout of the Boston Patriots in the Championship game. Rote was named as AFL 1st team All-Star QB and was the Associated Press AFL Most Valuable Player in 1963. Rote was back in the AFL championship game in 1964 where he ironically lost to Gilchrist's Buffalo Bills.

Danny Nykoluk & Marty Martinello
Mid 1960's Argonauts Team Issue Action Photos (most likely 1963)

Great import players are one thing, but in Canada you don't go very far in November without solid Canadian player supporting depth, and the Argos had that in spades as well. Hard rock lineman Danny Nykoluk spent a whopping 16 seasons with Toronto (1955, 1957-1971), was named a divisional All-Star 2 times and was his team's nominee for Most Outstanding Lineman once.

Marty Martinello spent six seasons in Argo colours (1960-1965) and also was named a divisional All-Star 2 times. The above two pictures are just some of the many great Argonaut media photos that have come to light since the publication of Collecting Canadian Football V2.

Add in naturalized Canadian Bobby Kuntz (born in the U.S. but raised in Canada) who toiled for the Argos for 6 years (1956-1961), was named a divisional All-Star 3 times, All Canadian All-Star 1 time, was his teams nominee for Most Outstanding Canadian 5 times and Eastern Division MOC twice. Another stalwart Canadian Argo was Norm Stoneburgh who played 12 seasons (1955-1967) and made 4 divisional All-Star teams.

Bobby Kuntz & Norm Stoneburgh
Argo player promotional Advertisement from 1960 Program
1966 Program Picture probably sourced from a 1961 Media Photo

So by 1960 the stage was set, the Argonauts had superstars who not only had won championships (and would go on to win more) but they were major critical factors in delivering those championships for their teams. They had future Hall of Famers, they had umpteen All-Stars patrolling the yard lines, they had more than enough Canadian player strength.  All they had to do was put it together at playoff time.

The Argos headed into Ottawa for the first of the two game total points Eastern Final series knowing that while they had compiled a 8-1 record against Hamilton & Montreal they only managed to go 2-3 against the Rough Riders. This trend continued as they found themselves twelve points down after absorbing a 33-21 loss.

For the prior three seasons the Western dynasty Winnipeg Blue Bombers and the Eastern Juggernaut Hamilton Tiger-Cats had monopolized the Grey Cup matchup, but by the time the second game of the Final series came around the Edmonton Eskimos had completed a massive upset of the Bombers and the road to the championship was wide open.

Midway through the third quarter of the second game the Argonauts had built a 20-0 lead and an eight point edge in the aggregate score, when the wheels fell off. The riders scored three times in succession set up by a 54 yard long bomb, a 65 yard interception return and incredibly an 80 yard sleeper play on a 2nd and 37 from their own 12 yard line! Meanwhile on Toronto's possessions Rote's accurate passes were being inexplicably dropped by his normally dependable receivers. Toronto General Manager Lew Hayman was quoted the next day "We just weren't fated to win".

Newly discovered Tobin Rote & Dave Mann
Early 1960's Argonauts Team Issue Pinbacks, probably 1961

The following season the Argonauts roster of stars was intact but the team was inconsistent falling to third place and once again they lost the season series to the Ottawa Rough Riders 1-2. They returned to Ottawa for the Semi-Final match and exacted some measure of revenge for last year by thrashing the Riders 43-19. Tobin Rote threw four TD passes and ran for two more while five Argonaut first stringers played both ways.

The first game of the two game total points Eastern Final series in front of a record crowd at Exhibition Stadium in Toronto saw the Argos continue to dominate with a 25-7 beating of the "back to their normal first place residing" Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Carrying an 18 point edge into the 2nd game it is hard to say what factors led to the Argo's almost complete inability to compete offensively as the Tiger-Cat defence held them to 2 measly points while evening the aggregate score leading 20-2. Despite this after a late interception return to the Ti-Cat 27 the Argonauts were still in a position to win the game and go to the Grey Cup, when a quintessentially Canadian football play sealed their demise.

Toronto took a penalty and lost yards running the clock down to the last play, then Dave Mann punted from the 46 into the end-zone for the potential winning single, punted back out by Hamilton which Mann caught at the 35 (no-yards should have been called but wasn't). Mann punted it back to the goal line where Bernie Faloney retrieved it and using illegal blocks (no blocking allowed on punt returns then) ran it all the way back to Toronto's end zone. To prevent the Tiger-cats from having one more play the Argos declined the penalty (the score could not stand once a flag was thrown) which ended the game tied on aggregate, overtime to follow.

In overtime the Tiger-Cats left no doubt as to who was the superior team scoring four touchdowns and winning the game 48-2. I think you would have a pretty hard time finding another instance in professional football where a 48-2 final score win was threatening to turn into a 1 point elimination loss just minutes before. For the Argonauts this monumentally disappointing defeat closed the window of opportunity for this group of outstanding players to win the Grey Cup.

Jackie Parker
Mid 1960's Argonauts Team Issue Action Photo (1963) &
1964 Argonauts Team Issue Portrait Photo

Rote was back in 1962 but the Argonauts fell to last place again. Cookie Gilchrist was suspended for a curfew violation and the team very imprudently allowed him to move on to Buffalo and the AFL. The following season the Argonauts management decided that maybe they could get to the promised land with the help of the most decorated player in CFL history, Jackie Parker.

Unfortunately Parker was past his prime and with the deterioration of the supporting cast the team finished dead last again all three seasons that Parker played in Toronto. It would be another 21  seasons after Rote left before the Argonauts would hoist the Grey Cup again. 

Most if not all of the players featured in this post have passed on now, many of them just since the turn of the century. But now some 60 years later is as good a time as any to reflect on what just might have been, had this team of ultra-skilled athletes not imploded at just the wrong moments so many years ago.