Monday, 13 June 2011

TORONTO SPORTS HISTORY: Logos, Patches, Photos

By HOWARD BERGER

TORONTO (June 13) - Each one of us that grows up as a sports fan in this city will develop his or her personal connection. You may have a favorite team; a favorite logo, or a particularly memorable experience relating to any of the professional and amateur clubs in Toronto.

My sports history here dates roughly to the middle-1960's, though my vivid recollection kicks in around 1969 or '70, when I was 10 and 11 years old. With a load of blissful time on my hands right now, I spent the past week or so accumulating a visual montage of the Howard Berger history of Toronto sport. More than 100 images below takes you through that journey - one I trust you'll enjoy.


THIS IS MY FAVORITE OF ALL PROFESSIONAL SPORT LOGOS IN TORONTO. IT WAS THE ARGONAUTS PRIMARY EMBLEM FROM 1956 TO 1975; COINCIDING WITH THE TEAMS I REMEMBER MOST FONDLY FROM MY YOUTH. THE ARGOS OF 1967-72 NEVER WON A CHAMPIONSHIP, BUT THEY WERE EQUALLY EXCITING TO WATCH AND READ ABOUT. THEY PLAYED AT OLD CNE STADIUM: THE 33,135-SEAT FACILITY ON THE SHORES OF LAKE ONTARIO (RARE PHOTO IN SELECTION BELOW), THAT WOULD ULTIMATELY BE CONVERTED INTO A QUASI-BASEBALL PARK AND RE-NAMED EXHIBITION STADIUM. IF YOU DON'T REMEMBER THE ORIGINAL, YOU CANNOT POSSIBLY IMAGINE THE HORRIBLE GRASS-SURFACE ARGOS PLAYED ON EACH YEAR AFTER THE ANNUAL CNE FAIR, WHEN A GIANT MUSIC STAGE HAD BEEN ROLLED ON AND OFF THE FIELD. FROM AUGUST TO NOVEMBER, THE CNE PITCH WAS A CLUMP OF MUD PAINTED GREEN. BUT, THAT WAS THE CHARM OF FOOTBALL IN MY BOYHOOD - JUST PRIOR TO THE ADVENT OF ARTIFICIAL TURF. COACH LEO CAHILL LED A BAND OF FREE SPIRITS THAT LIFTED THE CLUB TO RECORD HEIGHTS OF POPULARITY. I CAN STILL CLOSE MY EYES AND SEE THE FACES OF CFL IDOLS MEL PROFIT, BOBBY TAYLOR, DICK THORNTON, BILL SYMONS, ED HARRINGTON, JIM CORRIGALL, JIM STILLWAGON, JOE THEISMANN AND LEON McQUAY. IT WAS McQUAY'S INFAMOUS FUMBLE IN THE DYING MOMENTS OF THE 1971 GREY CUP GAME THAT ENABLED CALGARY TO PRESERVE A 14-11 VICTORY. THOSE OF US OLD ENOUGH WILL NEVER FORGET HOW IT PORED RAIN ALL AFTERNOON AT EMPIRE STADIUM IN VANCOUVER.



THIS IS A RARE (THOUGH DISTANT) SHOT OF CNE STADIUM AS IT APPEARED DURING THE 1967 CANADIAN NATIONAL EXHIBITION. AS YOU CAN SEE, THE MAIN GRANDSTAND IS OCCUPIED BY SPECTATORS WATCHING A SHOW ON THE LARGE, WHITE STAGE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE FOOTBALL FIELD. ROLLING THAT STAGE ON AND OFF DESTROYED THE GRASS PITCH FOR REMAINDER OF THE CFL SEASON EACH YEAR. BEHIND STAGE IS THE 12,000-SEAT BLEACHER (WITH STADIUM LIGHTS RISING ABOVE IT) THAT COMPRISED THE SOUTH TIER OF THE FACILITY. IN THE WINTER OF 1974-75, THE BLEACHER-STAND WAS DEMOLISHED AND THE STADIUM WAS RECONFIGURED FOR BASEBALL. POPULAR CNE ROLLER-COASTER KNOWN AS "THE FLYER" IS IN FOREGROUND.


AERIAL VIEW OF CNE STADIUM ON NOV. 28, 1970 JUST PRIOR TO GREY CUP GAME BETWEEN MONTREAL ALOUETTES AND CALGARY STAMPEDERS.


THE SCOREBOARD FOR ARGO GAMES AT CNE STADIUM IN 1967 DURING VISIT BY HAMILTON TIGER-CATS.

CNE (NOW EXHIBITION) STADIUM LOOKED A WHOLE LOT DIFFERENT IN 1976 (ABOVE), AFTER RECONFIGURATION FOR BASEBALL AND ARRIVAL OF THE BLUE JAYS. THE CNE GRANDSTAND STAGE FOR SHOWS DURING THE ANNUAL FAIR IS PARKED ON CONCRETE AT TOP OF THIS PHOTO.



ARGONAUTS BILL SYMONS (33) AND CHARLIE BRAY (57) BLOCK FOR TEAMMATE DURING VISIT BY SASKATCHEWAN ROUGHRIDERS TO CNE STADIUM ON SUN. SEP. 7, 1969. THE 1969-72 ARGOS WERE MY FAVORITE TORONTO SPORTS TEAMS.



BILL SYMONS (33) RUNS UP THE MIDDLE AGAINST TIGER-CATS IN 1969 GAME AT CIVIC STADIUM IN HAMILTON.

Mel Profit '70

WITH LONG, BLOND HAIR EXTENDING FROM THE BACK OF HIS HELMET, MEL PROFIT - QUITE THE FREE SPIRIT - MAY HAVE BEEN TORONTO'S MOST POPULAR ATHLETE IN THE LATE-'60S.




TRICKY DICK THORNTON (25 ABOVE) WAS A SUPERB TWO-WAY PERFORMER FOR THE ARGOS OF THE LATE-'60s AND EARLY-'70s. HE PLAYED DEFENSIVE HALFBACK BUT ALSO SUBBED AS A WIDE RECEIVER, PUNTER AND KICKER. HERE, HE IS PICTURED ON THE OLD, CHEWED-UP GRASS FIELD AT CNE STADIUM IN 1971 WITH TEAMMATES CHIP BARRETT (30); DICK ALDRIDGE (31) AND PETER MARTIN (77).


ARGOS COACH LEO CAHILL TALKS WITH QUARTERBACK JOE THEISMANN ON TEAM BENCH AT CNE STADIUM IN THE 1971 CFL SEASON. CAHILL MASTERFULLY SPIRITED THE NOTRE DAME GRAD AND HEISMAN TROPHY RUNNER-UP TO CANADA, OUT-MANEUVERING THE NFL'S MIAMI DOLPHINS, WHO HAD DRAFTED THEISMANN. THE SMALL BUT VERY QUICK QUARTERBACK PLAYED THREE SEASONS IN TORONTO (1971-72-73) BEFORE SIGNING WITH THE WASHINGTON REDSKINS. THE PINNACLE OF THEISMANN'S CAREER WOULD OCCUR JUST MORE THAN 12 YEARS LATER - IN JANUARY 1983 - WHEN HE LED WASHINGTON TO VICTORY OVER MIAMI IN SUPER BOWL XVII AT THE ROSE BOWL IN PASADENA CA.


LEO CAHILL (RIGHT) BEAMS AS JOE THEISMANN HOLDS UP HIS ARGOS JERSEY ON THE DAY HE SIGNED WITH THE CFL TEAM IN 1971.



LEO CAHILL ALSO CONVINCED OHIO STATE DEFENSIVE TACKLE JIM STILLWAGON (ABOVE) TO JOIN THE ARGOS IN 1971, A YEAR AFTER WINNING THE OUTLAND TROPHY AS TOP LINEMAN IN U.S. COLLEGE FOOTBALL. STILLWAGON WAS DRAFTED BY THE GREEN BAY PACKERS.


JIM STILLWAGON (ABOVE) WAVES TO CROWD AT ROGERS CENTRE AFTER BEING NAMED AN ALL-TIME ARGO IN SEPTEMBER 2009.

WHAT A TANDEM JIM STILLWAGON FORMED WITH THIS MAN ON THE ARGOS DEFENSIVE LINE OF THE EARLY-'70s. JIM CORRIGALL (ABOVE) STRIKES FOOTBALL POSE ON GRASS FIELD OF CNE STADIUM IN 1970, WITH THE OLD BULOVA WATCH TOWER - ONCE A CNE STAPLE - IN THE BACKGROUND. LEO CAHILL DID A GOOD SELLING JOB ON CORRIGALL, A CANADIAN WHO STARRED AT KENT STATE UNIVERSITY. THE BIG LINEMAN CHOSE TORONTO IN 1970 OVER THE NFL'S ST. LOUIS CARDINALS. 


LEON McQUAY (24) FOLLOWS BLOCK OF TEAMMATE JIM TOMLIN (23) DURING ARGOS/ESKIMOS GAME AT CLARKE STADIUM IN EDMONTON, SEP. 1, 1971. LONG-TIME FANS OF THE BOATMEN STILL HURT WHEN REMEMBERING McQUAY'S FUMBLE DEEP IN CALGARY TERRITORY THAT DESTROYED TORONTO'S CHANCES IN THE 1971 GREY CUP.


  
THIS WAS PRIMARY LOGO OF THE ARGONAUTS IN 1996 AND 1997 - CONSECUTIVE GREY CUP CHAMPIONS AND ARGUABLY THE TWO MOST DOMINANT TEAMS IN TORONTO SPORTS HISTORY. LED BY QUARTERBACK DOUG FLUTIE - LATER VOTED THE CANADIAN FOOTBALL LEAGUE'S ALL-TIME GREATEST PLAYER - THE '96 AND '97 ARGOS BOTH COMPILED RECORDS OF 15-3. THE '96 TEAM DEMOLISHED MONTREAL, 43-7, IN THE EASTERN CONFERENCE FINAL AT SKYDOME THEN CAME BACK FROM AN EARLY DEFICIT TO OUT-POINT EDMONTON, 43-37, IN A BIZARRE GREY CUP GAME THE FOLLOWING WEEK AT IVOR WYNNE STADIUM IN HAMILTON. IT BEGAN SNOWING EARLY IN THE AFTERNOON OF NOV. 24, 1996 AND CONTINUED SNOWING RIGHT THROUGH THE GAME THAT NIGHT, WHICH WAS PLAYED IN BLIZZARD-LIKE CONDITIONS. THE 1997 ARGONAUTS WERE EVEN MORE DOMINANT - STATISTICALLY, ONE OF THE BEST CFL TEAMS OF ALL TIME. IN 18 REGULAR-SEASON GAMES, THE BOATMEN OUTSCORED THEIR OPPOSITION 660-327, OR 37-18 PER MATCH. NO FOOTBALL TEAM IN THIS CITY HAS EVER BEEN ALMOST THREE TOUCHDOWNS BETTER THAN ITS OPPONENT THROUGH THE COURSE OF AN ENTIRE SEASON. ARGOS BEAT SASKATCHEWAN, 47-23, IN THE GREY CUP GAME AT EDMONTON. BOTH THE '96 AND '97 CLUBS WERE COACHED BY DON MATTHEWS, THE CFL'S ALL-TIME LEADER IN VICTORIES. FLUTIE HAD INNUMERABLE OFFENSIVE WEAPONS, INCLUDING MIKE (PINBALL) CLEMONS, ROBERT DRUMMOND, JIMMY (THE JET) CUNNINGHAM, PAUL MASSOTTI AND DERRELL (MOOKIE) MITCHELL, WHO SET A LEAGUE RECORD IN 1998 WITH 160 PASS RECEPTIONS. ON DEFENSE, ARGOS HAD SUCH GREAT PLAYERS AS ROB WALDROP, ANDREW STEWART, MIKE O'SHEA AND ADRION SMITH. KICKER AND PUNTER BOTH YEARS WAS OAKVILLE NATIVE MIKE VANDERJAGT, WHO WENT ON TO GREAT SUCCESS WITH INDIANAPOLIS OF THE NFL. BUT, FLUTIE STEERED THE BOAT. HE WAS THE CFL'S VERSION OF WAYNE GRETZKY AND HE ENJOYED TWO OF HIS BEST SEASONS IN TORONTO.



THE INCOMPARABLE DOUG FLUTIE (ABOVE) LOOKS FOR A RECEIVER DURING 1996 GREY CUP GAME, PLAYED ON SNOW-COVERED FIELD AT IVOR WYNNE STADIUM IN HAMILTON.


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DOUG FLUTIE POSES WITH GREY CUP AFTER 1997 ROMP OVER SASKATCHEWAN, IN EDMONTON ('96 AND '97 GAME LOGOS ABOVE).



OF ALL THE LOGO MODIFICATIONS IN MAPLE LEAFS HISTORY, I THINK MANY WOULD CHOOSE THE CLASSIC, 35-POINT VERSION (ABOVE) AS FAVORITE. IT COINCIDED WITH THE CLUB'S LAST STANLEY CUP DYNASTY, THOUGH THIS PRECISE LOGO WAS WORN ONLY BY THE 1964 TEAM, WHICH UPENDED DETROIT IN A MEMORABLE SEVEN-GAME FINAL FOR THE LEAFS THIRD CONSECUTIVE TITLE. IT IS SYNONYMOUS WITH SUCH LEGENDARY PLAYERS AS DAVE KEON, FRANK MAHOVLICH, GEORGE ARMSTRONG, TIM HORTON, BOB BAUN, RED KELLY, BOB PULFORD, EDDIE SHACK AND JOHNNY BOWER.



TERRY SAWCHUK (LEFT) AND JOHNNY BOWER OF THE MAPLE LEAFS ACCEPT THE VEZINA TROPHY AS THE NHL'S TOP GOALTENDING TANDEM IN 1964-65.


THEY CALLED HIM "THE ENTERTAINER" AND WITH GOOD REASON. EDDIE SHACK (LEFT) WAS A SPARK-PLUG WITH THE MAPLE LEAFS IN THEIR 1960s DYNASTY. HERE, HE BATTLES WITH DEFENSEMAN TED GREEN OF THE BOSTON BRUINS. SHACK RARELY PLAYED A TON OF MINUTES BUT ANYTIME THE CLUB APPEARED LETHARGIC, PUNCH IMLACH SENT HIM OVER THE BOARDS TO STIR THINGS UP. THE FANS AT MAPLE LEAF GARDENS LOVED HIM; A SONG CLEAR THE TRACK HERE COMES SHACK WAS COMPOSED AND RELEASED IN 1965.

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DAVE KEON (14) AND CAPTAIN GEORGE ARMSTRONG TANGLE WITH WAYNE HILLMAN (2), ORLAND KURTENBACH (25) AND REG FLEMING (9) OF THE NEW YORK RANGERS IN 1966 GAME AT OLD MADISON SQUARE GARDEN.


THIS WAS THE MAPLE LEAFS PRIMARY LOGO STARTING WITH THE 1967 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS AND CONTINUING THROUGH TO THE END OF THE 1969-70 NHL SEASON. THE 12-POINT DESIGN MATCHED THE LEAF EMBLEM ON CANADA'S RED AND WHITE NATIONAL FLAG IN OUR COUNTRY'S CENTENNIAL YEAR. THOUGH THE LEAFS WON THEIR LAST STANLEY CUP WEARING THIS LOGO, THE LATE-'60s WERE NOT KIND TO THE CLUB AND ITS FANS; DECISIONS WERE MADE BY OWNERSHIP THAT GREASED THE SLIDE WHICH CONTINUES, UNINTERRUPTED, TO THIS DAY: A 44-YEAR SPAN DURING WHICH THE LEAFS HAVE FAILED TO APPEAR IN THE STANLEY CUP FINAL. MEMORABLE PLAYERS FROM THAT 1967-70 ERA INCLUDE MIKE WALTON, NORM ULLMAN, FLOYD SMITH, RON ELLIS, PAUL HENDERSON, PAT QUINN, RICK LEY, JIM DOREY AND BRUCE GAMBLE. TORONTO MISSED THE PLAYOFFS IN 1968 AND 1970.

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JUBILANT LEAFS CELEBRATE GOAL BY BOB PULFORD AT 8:26 OF SECOND OVERTIME THAT WON GAME 3 OF STANLEY CUP FINAL OVER MONTREAL AT THE GARDENS ON APR. 25, 1967. LARGE BANNER CELEBRATING CANADA'S CENTENNIAL YEAR HANGS ABOVE SOUTH MEZZANINE BLUES.

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BOB PULFORD IN 1967-68 GAME AT THE GARDENS AGAINST
EXPANSION MINNESOTA NORTH STARS. MINNESOTA DEFENSEMAN IS BILL PLAGER; GOALIE IS GARY BAUMAN.


I REMEMBER THIS NIGHT AS IF IT WERE YESTERDAY... AND I WAS ONLY NINE YEARS OLD. ON SAT. MAR. 9, 1968, DETROIT RED WINGS WERE IN TOWN TO PLAY THE LEAFS AT THE GARDENS SIX DAYS AFTER ACQUIRING FRANK MAHOVLICH IN ONE OF THE MOST SIGNIFICANT TRADES IN THE HISTORY OF BOTH CLUBS. MAHOVLICH, PETER STEMKOWSKI, GARRY UNGER AND THE NHL RIGHTS TO CARL BREWER WENT TO DETROIT FOR NORM ULLMAN, PAUL HENDERSON AND FLOYD SMITH; THE DEAL BROKE ON A QUIET SUNDAY NIGHT WITH THE LEAFS IDLE. MAHOVLICH HAD BEEN A PART OF ALL FOUR STANLEY CUP TEAMS HERE IN TOWN AND THE DEAL CAUSED QUITE AN UPROAR, AS FANS MARCHED WITH SIGNS AND PLACARDS OUTSIDE THE GARDENS. I WENT TO THIS GAME WITH MY DAD AND I WILL ALWAYS REMEMBER DOING DOUBLE AND TRIPLE TAKES AT MY FORMER LEAFS HERO NOW WEARING HIS FAMILIAR NO. 27 IN THE WHITE AND RED OF DETROIT. THE BIG 'M' SCORED EARLY IN THE GAME ON BRUCE GAMBLE (PHOTO OF BOTH PLAYERS IN MAR. 9 GAME ABOVE) AND THE WINGS CRAFTED A 5-2 LEAD IN THE SECOND PERIOD. BUT, THE LEAFS STORMED BACK IN THE THIRD TO WIN, 7-5: ONE OF THE GOALS SCORED BY MIKE WALTON ON A PENALTY SHOT.


TIM HORTON (ABOVE) AND BORJE SALMING ARE CONSIDERED THE TWO GREATEST DEFENSEMEN IN LEAFS HISTORY. BATTLING WITH CHICAGO'S ANDRE BOUDRIAS IN A 1969 GAME AT MAPLE LEAF GARDENS, HORTON WAS A STALWART ON THE BLUE-LINE THROUGHOUT THE CLUB'S 1960s DYNASTY. TRAGICALLY AND IRONICALLY, HE WAS KILLED IN A SINGLE-CAR ACCIDENT ON THE QUEEN ELIZABETH WAY (QEW) NEAR ST. CATHARINES ON FEB. 21, 1974 HOURS AFTER PLAYING FOR THE BUFFALO SABRES AGAINST HIS OLD TEAM AT THE GARDENS. HORTON IS MUCH-BETTER KNOWN TODAY FOR THE ENORMOUS STRING OF DOUGHNUT/COFFEE SHOPS THAT BEARS HIS NAME.


THE LEAFS DECLINED RAPIDLY AFTER THEIR 1967 STANLEY CUP TITLE BUT STILL HAD SOME MEMORABLE MOMENTS - PERHAPS NONE MORE-SO THAN DEFENSEMAN PAT QUINN'S CRUSHING BODY-CHECK ON BOBBY ORR (ABOVE) THAT KNOCKED OUT THE BRUINS' STAR DEFENSEMAN. IT OCCURRED AT THE BOSTON GARDEN ON APR. 2, 1969 IN GAME 1 OF A TERRIBLY LOP-SIDED QUARTERFINAL PLAYOFF. QUINN SIZED UP ORR AS THE BRUINS' PLAYER STRUGGLED UP THE RIGHT-WING BOARDS, TRYING TO SHAKE OFF TORONTO'S BRIT SELBY. THE BIG IRISHMAN LAUNCHED ALL OF HIS 220 POUNDS AT ORR, AND BOTH PLAYERS WENT FLYING. ORR HIT IS HEAD ON THE ICE AND REMAINED MOTIONLESS FOR SEVERAL MINUTES. A WILD MELEE ERUPTED IN THE THIRD PERIOD, SPARKED BY TORONTO SCRAPPER FORBES KENNEDY, WHO FOUGHT PRACTICALLY THE ENTIRE BRUINS TEAM; WAS PUNCHED IN THE HEAD BY FANS LEANING OVER THE LOW GLASS IN THAT ERA; AND WALLOPED LINESMAN GEORGE ASHLEY IN THE CHIN. LEAFS WERE OBLITERATED THAT NIGHT, 10-0, AND GOT SWEPT IN FOUR GAMES. AFTER BOSTON'S SERIES-CLINCHING TRIUMPH AT MAPLE LEAF GARDENS, OWNER STAFFORD SMYTHE FIRED GM/COACH PUNCH IMLACH.

 

FOR THE 1970-71 SEASON, THE MAPLE LEAFS ALTERED THEIR LOOK ONCE AGAIN (ABOVE) AND THIS VERSION REMAINS THEIR PRIMARY LOGO 41 YEARS LATER. NO LEAF FANS NEEDS TO BE REMINDED OF THE SO-CALLED "BALLARD" LOGO - NOT ONCE HAS IT BEEN WORN BY A CLUB COMPETING FOR THE STANLEY CUP. IT HAS, HOWEVER, ADORNED A NUMBER OF EXCELLENT PLAYERS, INCLUDING DARRYL SITTLER, LANNY McDONALD, BORJE SALMING, RICK VAIVE, DOUG GILMOUR, WENDEL CLARK, CURTIS JOSEPH AND MATS SUNDIN.

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A YOUNG DARRYL SITTLER KEEPS CLOSE EYE ON DENNIS HULL OF THE BLACKHAWKS IN 1974 GAME AT MAPLE LEAF GARDENS. IN THE MIDDLE-'70s, SITTLER WAS THE BIGGEST SPORTS NAME IN THIS TOWN BY A COUNTRY MILE.



THERE WAS NO MISTAKING THE LANNY McDONALD MOUSTACHE HERE IN TORONTO AND AROUND THE NHL BETWEEN 1975 AND 1979. THE DAY HE WAS TRADED TO THE COLORADO ROCKIES (DEC. 29, 1979) RANKS AMONG THE DARKEST IN LEAFS HISTORY.

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McDONALD AND BORJE SALMING (LEFT) ARE TWO OF THE ALL-TIME GREATEST LEAFS.



 THESE TWO BELOVED LEAFS WERE CORNERSTONES OF THE MINI-REVIVAL IN 1993 AND 1994. DOUG GILMOUR (93) GETS A LITTLE PEP-TALK FROM CAPTAIN WENDEL CLARK AT MAPLE LEAF GARDENS.



YOU'VE GOT TO BE A REAL DYED-IN-THE-WOOL LEAFS FOLLOWER TO KNOW THAT THE ORIGINAL CLUB LOGO WAS GREEN. WHEN THE TEAM NAME CHANGED FROM ST. PATRICKS TO MAPLE LEAFS FOR THE 1926-27 SEASON, THE COLORS OF GREEN AND WHITE WERE MAINTAINED... THOUGH BRIEFLY. CLUB FOUNDER CONN SMYTHE FELT BLUE TO BE MORE "MANLY" AND HE PROMPTLY CHANGED THE COLOR; IT, OF COURSE, HAS SURVIVED THE DECADES AND VARIOUS LOGO DESIGNS.


Toronto Marlboros Primary Logo
 
THE FIRST HOCKEY GAME I ATTENDED AT MAPLE LEAF GARDENS (IN MARCH 1966) INVOLVED THE TEAM WEARING THE ABOVE LOGO. THE LEAFS OWNED THE JUNIOR TORONTO MARLBOROS OF THE ONTARIO HOCKEY ASSOCIATION, WHOSE HOME GAMES WERE FREQUENTLY PLAYED AT THE GARDENS ON SUNDAY AFTERNOON. THE CROWNED EMBLEM OF THE MARLBORO ATHLETIC CLUB FIT NICELY INSIDE THE 35-POINT MAPLE LEAFS PRIMARY LOGO. AMONG OTHER TEAMS IN THE OHA OF THE MID-TO-LATE-'60s WERE MONTREAL JUNIOR CANADIENS, HAMILTON RED WINGS, NIAGARA FALLS FLYERS, PETERBOROUGH TPT, LONDON NATIONALS AND KITCHENER RANGERS. A NUMBER OF FUTURE NHLers PLAYED IN MY FIRST VISIT TO THE GARDENS (PETERBOROUGH AT TORONTO), INCLUDING AL SMITH, WAYNE CARLETON, MICKEY REDMOND, BRIAN GLENNIE, GERRY MEEHAN AND ANDRE LACROIX.

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THE LATE AL SMITH (ABOVE) PLAYED GOAL FOR TORONTO MARLBOROS DURING MY FIRST VISIT TO MAPLE LEAF GARDENS IN MARCH 1966. HERE, HE IS PICTURED WEARING LEAFS JERSEY IN 1968.



OF COURSE, WHEN THE MAPLE LEAFS MODIFIED THEIR LOGO FOR THE 1967 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS (AND FOR THREE SEASONS THEREAFTER), THE JUNIOR MARLIES FOLLOWED SUIT (ABOVE).

  


FOR THREE SEASONS IN THE 1970s, OUR CITY HAD TWO PROFESSIONAL HOCKEY TEAMS: THE MAPLE LEAFS AND THE TORONTO TOROS OF THE WORLD HOCKEY ASSOCIATION, CHIEF RIVAL TO THE NHL. THE TOROS WERE ACTUALLY BORN THE OTTAWA NATIONALS AND PLAYED AT THE OTTAWA CIVIC CENTRE IN THE WHA'S INAUGURAL SEASON (1972-73). THE LATE JOHN BASSETT JR. (OR JOHNNY F. AS HE WAS KNOWN TO MOST OTHERS) PURCHASED THE NATIONALS AND MOVED THEM TO TORONTO FOR 1973-74. BASSETT'S FATHER, JOHN W.H. BASSETT, HAD BEEN ONE OF THE LEAFS OWNERS IN THE '60s, BUT HAD PARTED ACRIMONIOUSLY WITH HAROLD BALLARD, WHO RAN MAPLE LEAF GARDENS IN THE '70s. AS A RESULT, THE TOROS PLAYED THEIR FIRST SEASON AT TINY VARSITY ARENA (PHOTO BELOW), OWNED AND OPERATED BY THE UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO. I REMEMBER ATTENDING THE TOROS INAUGURAL GAME IN OCTOBER 1973 (AGAINST CHICAGO COUGARS); I STILL HAVE THE PROGRAM FROM THAT NIGHT WITH CARL BREWER (THE EX-LEAFS DEFENCEMAN; BACK IN TOWN WITH THE WHA CLUB) ON THE COVER (SEE BELOW). BASSETT JR. GOT THE TOROS INTO MAPLE LEAF GARDENS FOR THE 1974 WHA PLAYOFFS, BUT BALLARD WOULDN'T ALLOW HIM TO USE THE ARENA'S BRIGHT TV LIGHTS. TOROS SPENT THE REMAINDER OF THEIR DAYS AT MLG, BEFORE CROWDS THAT AVERAGED ROUGHLY 8,500. PROMINENT PLAYERS INCLUDED BREWER; FELLOW EX-LEAFS JIM DOREY, PAUL HENDERSON, FRANK MAHOVLICH, GUY TROTTIER AND BRIT SELBY; FUTURE NHLers MARK NAPIER AND WAYNE DILLON; A BIG, TALENTED FORWARD FROM CZECHOSLOVAKIA, VACLAV NEDOMANSKY, AND A SPEEDY, HARD-SHOOTING WINGER WHO NEVER MADE IT BEYOND THE WHA, SHOT-GUN TOM SIMPSON. GOALTENDERS INCLUDED LES BINKLEY, WHO PLAYED FOR PITTSBURGH AFTER THE NHL'S 1967 EXPANSION, AND WACKY GILLES GRATTON, WHOSE MASK (A GROWLING TIGER) WAS THE MOST UNUSUAL IN HOCKEY ANNALS. THE TOROS MOVED SOUTH AFTER THE 1975-76 SEASON TO BECOME THE BIRMINGHAM BULLS.


FORMER LEAFS DEFENSEMAN CARL BREWER (ABOVE) GRACES COVER OF PROGRAM SOLD DURING FIRST-EVER TORONTO TOROS GAME - AT VARSITY ARENA, VS. CHICAGO COUGARS, SUN. OCT. 7, 1973.


TORONTO TOROS ROAD JERSEY (ABOVE), BELONGING TO FORWARD GAVIN KIRK.


YES, GILLES GRATTON ACTUALLY WORE THIS GROWLING-TIGER MASK WITH THE TORONTO TOROS AND LATER, IN THE NHL, WITH THE NEW YORK RANGERS.


FRONT COVER OF TORONTO STAR TV GUIDE ON SAT. OCT. 11, 1975 HIGHLIGHTS A BATTLE THAT NEVER MATERIALIZED. THIS WAS AS MUCH A LEAFS TOWN 36 YEARS AGO AS IT IS TODAY. THE TOROS WERE FUN TO WATCH, BUT NOBODY TOOK THEM TOO SERIOUSLY.

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THIS IS WHERE THE TORONTO TOROS PLAYED HOME GAMES IN 1973-74. WITH JUST MORE THAN 4,000 SEATS, VARSITY ARENA MUST HAVE BEEN QUITE A SHOCK FOR THE MULTITUDE OF EX-NHLers THAT SKATED THERE; AMONG THEM, TWO OF THE GREATEST NAMES IN HOCKEY HISTORY: GORDIE HOWE OF THE HOUSTON AEROS AND BOBBY HULL OF THE WINNIPEG JETS. OTHER NOTABLES THAT VISITED THE TINY ARENA IN '73-74 INCLUDED MIKE WALTON (MINNESOTA FIGHTING SAINTS); MARC TARDIF (LOS ANGELES SHARKS); MARK HOWE (HOUSTON AEROS); RALPH BACKSTROM AND PAT STAPLETON (CHICAGO COUGARS); TED GREEN (NEW ENGLAND WHALERS); HARRY HOWELL (NEW YORK GOLDEN BLADES/JERSEY KNIGHTS); J.C. TREMBLAY (QUEBEC NORDIQUIES) AND JOHN McKENZIE (VANCOUVER BLAZERS).  

 


THOUGH IT'S COMMON TO FAVOR THE ORIGINAL LOGO OF ANY PROFESSIONAL SPORTS TEAM, I THINK BASEBALL FANS OF ALL AGES IN OUR CITY WOULD GIVE THE NOD TO THE BLUE JAYS FIRST DESIGN (ABOVE) AS THE BEST IN CLUB HISTORY. THIS SERVED AS THE PRIMARY LOGO FROM THE JAYS INCEPTION IN 1977 THROUGH TO THE END OF THE 1996 SEASON, AND SPANNED THE CLUB'S BEST YEARS TO DATE (1983-93) LEADING TO CONSECUTIVE WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONSHIPS IN 1992 AND 1993. THE WORD "BLUE" IN THE TEAM NICKNAME WAS SUBLIMINAL ADVERTISING FOR THE MAJORITY SHARE-HOLDER: LABATT BREWERIES (LABATT'S BLUE REMAINS POPULAR AMONG GUZZLERS). WHO CAN FORGET THE NAMES OF THE EARLIEST BLUE JAY PLAYERS: BOB BAILOR; ALAN ASHBY (NOW PART OF THE CLUB'S RADIO BROADCAST TANDEM WITH JERRY HOWARTH); DAVE McKAY (VANCOUVER NATIVE WHO STARTED FIRST-EVER JAYS GAME AT THIRD BASE); HECTOR TORREZ (HIT FIRST GRAND-SLAM IN TEAM HISTORY, AGAINST NEW YORK YANKEES, AT EXHIBITION STADIUM); RICK BOSETTI (AND HIS NERVE-WRACKING "BASKET CATCH" IN CENTRE FIELD); THE LATE DOUG AULT (WHACKED TWO HOME RUNS IN THE JAYS INAUGURAL GAME, A 9-5 WIN OVER CHICAGO WHITE SOX AT THE SNOWY CNE); PITCHERS JIM CLANCY; JERRY GARVIN (WITH HIS HIGH-LEG-KICK DELIVERY) AND PETE VUKOVICH (LATER A CY YOUNG AWARD WINNER IN MILWAUKEE). THE EARLY JAYS WERE AWFUL, BUT FUN TO WATCH DURING THE NOVELTY ERA OF MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL IN TORONTO.


BILL SINGER DELIVERS FIRST PITCH IN BLUE JAYS HISTORY TO RALPH GARR OF THE CHICAGO WHITE SOX AT EXHIBITION STADIUM, APR. 7, 1977.


FREE SPIRIT RICK BOSETTI WAS AMONG THE MOST IDENTIFIABLE BLUE JAYS IN THEIR EARLY YEARS, THOUGH HE WOULD DRIVE MANAGER ROY HARTSFIELD CRAZY WITH HIS "BASKET" CATCHES IN CENTRE-FIELD - RUNNING UP TO A FLY BALL AND ALLOWING IT TO DROP INTO HIS GLOVE HELD AT THE WAIST. HE WAS QUITE THE CHARACTER AND THE FIRST BLUE JAYS PLAYER TO LIVE IN TORONTO YEAR-ROUND.


THE TWO GREATEST MOMENTS IN BLUE JAYS HISTORY: ROBERTO ALOMAR EXTENDING HIS ARMS IN TRIUMPH (ABOVE) AFTER HITTING GAME-TYING HOME RUN AT OAKLAND COLISEUM IN 1992 AMERICAN LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES. THIS SOLO SHOT OFF DENNIS ECKERSLEY ALLOWED THE JAYS TO COME BACK FROM 6-2 DEFICIT AND WIN GAME 4 OF THE SERIES. TORONTO WOULD ELIMINATE OAKLAND IN SIX AND DEFEAT ATLANTA TO WIN ITS FIRST WORLD SERIES.



JUBILANT JOE CARTER CELEBRATES WITH FIRST-BASE COACH NICK LEYVA AND SOLD-OUT SKYDOME AFTER HITTING WALK-OFF HOME RUN AGAINST PHILADELPHIA THAT ALLOWED THE BLUE JAYS TO REPEAT AS BASEBALL CHAMPIONS IN 1993.

THE 1992 WORLD SERIES BETWEEN THE BLUE JAYS AND ATLANTA BRAVES WAS THE FIRST-EVER TO BE PLAYED ON CANADIAN SOIL - GAMES 3, 4 AND 5 WERE HELD AT SKYDOME (SERIES LOGO ABOVE).


IT IS, AND ALWAYS WILL BE CONSIDERED AMONG THE GREATEST PLAYS IN WORLD SERIES HISTORY: DEVON WHITE CLIMBING THE CENTRE-FIELD WALL AT SKYDOME (ABOVE) TO MAKE A SPECTACULAR CATCH AND ROB ATLANTA'S DAVID JUSTICE OF A TWO-RUN DOUBLE. IT OCCURRED IN THE TOP OF THE FOURTH INNING OF GAME 3; THE BRAVES HAD DEION SANDERS AND TERRY PENDLETON ON BASE WITH NOBODY OUT. WHITE BEGAN WHAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN A TRIPLE PLAY, BUT SECOND-BASE UMPIRE BOB DAVIDSON RULED SANDERS SAFE SCRAMBLING BACK, EVEN THOUGH BLUE JAYS' INFIELDER KELLY GRUBER CLEARLY TAGGED HIM ON THE HEEL. TORONTO WON THE GAME, 3-2, ON A BASES-LOADED SINGLE BY LEFT-FIELDER CANDY MALDONADO IN THE BOTTOM OF THE NINTH INNING OFF ATLANTA'S ACE RELIEVER JEFF REARDON.


I WAS PRIVILEGED TO BE IN ATLANTA'S FULTON-COUNTY STADIUM FOR THIS HISTORIC MOMENT, CAPTURED BY CBS, THE NETWORK THAT TELEVISED THE 1992 WORLD SERIES. HERE, THE BLUE JAYS CELEBRATE THEIR FIRST CHAMPIONSHIP, SECONDS AFTER BRAVES' OTIS NIXON HAD TAPPED BACK TO THE MOUND, ALLOWING PITCHER MIKE TIMLIN TO TOSS THE BALL TO JOE CARTER AT FIRST BASE FOR THE FINAL OUT. TORONTO WON THE GAME, 4-3, ON DAVE WINFIELD'S TWO-RUN DOUBLE TO THE LEFT-FIELD CORNER IN THE TOP OF THE 11th. PINCH-RUNNER JOHN SMOLTZ OF ATLANTA WAS AT THIRD BASE, REPRESENTING THE TYING RUN, WHEN NIXON GROUNDED OUT TO END THE GAME.


BALLPARK WHERE BLUE JAYS WON THEIR FIRST WORLD SERIES (ABOVE): ATLANTA FULTON-COUNTY STADIUM. IT WAS DEMOLISHED AFTER THE 1996 SUMMER OLYMPICS TO ACCOMMODATE PARKING FOR ITS REPLACEMENT, TURNER FIELD.

PATCH COMMEMORATING THE BLUE JAYS CONSECUTIVE WORLD SERIES TRIUMPHS.



ANOTHER REMINDER OF THE EARLY JAYS IS THE POWDER-BLUE COLOR OF THEIR ROAD UNIFORM (ABOVE). SUCH PLAYERS AS RICO CARTY, JOHN MAYBERRY, ALFREDO GRIFFIN, BARRY BONNELL, LLOYD MOSEBY, JESSE BARFIELD, GEORGE BELL (1987 AMERICAN LEAGUE MVP), RANCE MULLINIKS, ERNIE WHITT, BUCK MARTINEZ, DAVE STIEB, WILLIE UPSHAW AND TONY FERNANDEZ ALL WORE THIS JERSEY.



YES, JACK MORRIS, DAVE STEWART, ROGER CLEMENS AND ROY HALLADAY CAME ALONG LATER, BUT MY VOTE FOR BEST PITCHER IN BLUE JAYS HISTORY STILL BELONGS TO DAVE STIEB, THE MOST DOMINANT HURLER IN THE AMERICAN LEAGUE IN THE EARLY-TO-MID-'80s. NO PITCHER I'VE EVER SEEN COULD SNAP OFF SUCH A WICKED SLIDER; HAD STIEB BEEN GRACED WITH A DEEPER BULLPEN, THE BLUE JAYS MIGHT HAVE BEEN CHAMPIONS BEFORE 1992. STIEB WAS CHOSEN STARTING PITCHER FOR THE A.L. IN THE 1983 ALL-STAR GAME AT CHICAGO'S COMISKEY PARK AND THE 1984 GAME AT CANDLESTICK PARK IN SAN FRANCISCO. AFTER SEVERAL TANTALIZINGLY CLOSE CALLS, HE FINALLY PITCHED A NO-HITTER IN CLEVELAND ON SEP. 2, 1990.


SPEEDY LLOYD MOSEBY (ABOVE) COMPRISED ONE-THIRD OF WHAT MANY FELT WAS THE BEST OUTFIELD IN BASEBALL THROUGH MUCH OF THE 1980s - ALONG WITH GEORGE BELL AND JESSE BARFIELD (ALL WERE BORN IN 16-DAY SPAN LATE IN 1959).


THE BLUE JAYS LOGO WAS EVERYWHERE IN THE EARLY YEARS. THE CLUB'S FIRST PRESIDENT, PETER BAVASI, OFTEN SAID OF HIS MEDIOCRE EXPANSION TEAM, "WE CAN'T SELL THE STEAK, SO WE'VE GOT TO SELL THE SIZZLE." THAT HE DID.

BLUE JAYS ORIGINAL BALL CAP FROM 1977.


THE BLUE JAYS PLAYED AT RENOVATED EXHIBITION STADIUM (ABOVE) FROM APR. 7, 1977 (THEIR FIRST GAME) TO MAY 28, 1989. KANSAS CITY WON THE 1985 AMERICAN LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES OVER THE BLUE JAYS IN GAME 7 AT EXHIBITION STADIUM; THE ROYALS COMPLETING A COMEBACK FROM A 3-1 SERIES DEFICIT.



PHOTO TAKEN FROM BROADCAST BOOTH AT EXHIBITION STADIUM BY FORMER MAJOR LEAGUE PITCHER JERRY REUSS.



A LOOK DOWN THE LEFT-FIELD LINE AT EXHIBITION STADIUM.



A GLANCE INTO THE RIGHT-FIELD CORNER, LOOKING NORTH-EAST FROM PRESS BOX.



VIEW FROM PITCHER'S MOUND AT EXHIBITION STADIUM; PRESS BOX (TO THE LEFT) AND BROADCASTS BOOTHS (OPEN WINDOWS) UP ABOVE. THE LATE TOM CHEEK AND PARTNER JERRY HOWARTH WOULD CALL BLUE JAYS GAMES FROM BOOTH ON THE LEFT IN THIS PHOTO.


RARE AND UNIQUE VIEW FROM TOP OF THE OLD GRANDSTAND AT EXHIBITION STADIUM (FIELD LIGHTS AT BOTTOM-LEFT) SHOWS THE BASEBALL SCOREBOARD; THE WHITE CNE STAGE (ABOVE LIGHTS) AND DOWNTOWN TORONTO A COUPLE OF MILES IN THE DISTANCE. ALL OF THESE PHOTOS TAKEN BY JERRY REUSS.






WITH EACH DECADE ANNIVERSARY (AND NO. 25), THE BLUE JAYS DESIGNED A COMMEMORATIVE PATCH - THE FIRST FOUR, IN SUCCESSION, ABOVE.


FOR THEIR 21st SEASON IN THE AMERICAN LEAGUE (1997), THE BLUE JAYS MOTHBALLED THEIR ORIGINAL LOGO AND ADOPTED SOMETHING MORE PATRIOTIC. THE SMALL, RED MAPLE LEAF IN THE UPPER-RIGHT OF THE FIRST EMBLEM NOW BECAME A FULL BACKGROUND, AND MORE OF A BRIGHT, SCARLETT COLOR; THERE WERE ALSO MODIFICATIONS TO THE FONT IN THE CLUB NAME, AND THE BIRD DESIGN. THE JAYS KEPT THIS LOGO THROUGH THE 2002 SEASON; IT COINCIDED WITH THE TWO-YEAR REIGN OF PITCHING GREAT ROGER CLEMENS IN TORONTO (1997-98). THE ROCKET COMPILED A 41-13 RECORD AND WON THE AMERICAN LEAGUE CY YOUNG AWARD EACH YEAR.



NOT SURE WHO WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS BLUE JAYS LOGO, OR WHAT CHEMICAL INFLUENCE THAT PERSON WAS UNDER, BUT I LOVED IT! SADLY, IT LASTED FOR ONLY THE 2003 MAJOR LEAGUE SEASON. TO ME, IT'S ONE OF THE GREAT DESIGNS IN OUR CITY'S PRO SPORT HISTORY.



WHATEVER MEDICINAL OR PLANT DERIVATIVE THAT LED TO THE 2003 BLUE JAYS LOGO WAS ALSO POWERFULLY AT WORK ON THE INDIVIDUAL THAT DESIGNED THIS SPECTACULAR ALTERNATE LOGO FOR THE NBA'S TORONTO RAPTORS. ALMOST NEVER HAS THE TEAM BEEN EVEN HALF AS FRIGHTENING AS THE ABOVE IMAGE.



THE RAPTORS COULDN'T WIN TO SAVE THEIR LIVES BUT THEY SURE HAD A CREATIVE MARKETING DEPARTMENT. THE CLUB'S EARLY LOGOS WERE AMONG THE BEST IN ALL OF PROFESSIONAL SPORT.


THE BEST PLAYER IN RAPTORS HISTORY - SHOOTING GUARD VINCE CARTER (UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA) DOES HIS THING AT THE AIR CANADA CENTRE. ON MAY 20, 2001, THE RAPTORS PLAYED AT PHILADELPHIA IN GAME 7 OF AN EASTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINAL. CARTER HAD AN OPEN SHOT WITH TWO SECONDS LEFT THAT - IF MADE - WOULD HAVE SENT HIS CLUB TO THE CONFERENCE FINAL. SADLY FOR TORONTO BASKETBALL FANS, IT BOUNCED OFF THE RIM AND THE TEAM WAS ELIMINATED. EQUALLY SAD IS THE FACT THE RAPTORS HAVE NEVER SINCE COME CLOSE TO SUCH PLAYOFF ACHIEVEMENT.

THIS LOGO BELONGED TO THE TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS, BUT HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH YOUR BELOVED HOCKEY TEAM. THE MAPLE LEAFS OF THE INTERNATIONAL BASEBALL LEAGUE WERE A TRIPLE-A AFFILIATE OF SEVERAL MAJOR LEAGUE CLUBS, INCLUDING THE BOSTON RED SOX IN THE FINAL YEARS OF THE FRANCHISE. THE BALLCLUB PLAYED ITS GAMES IN MAPLE LEAF STADIUM: A 13,000-SEAT FACILITY AT THE FOOT OF BATHURST STREET, ON THE SOUTH SIDE OF LAKESHORE BLVD., AND ACROSS FROM THE FAMOUS TIP TOP TAILORS BUILDING. THE STADIUM WAS BUILT IN 1926 AND DEMOLISHED AFTER THE LEAFS FINAL BALLGAME IN SEPTEMBER 1967. DURING ITS HEY-DAY IN THE 1950s, THE TEAM WAS OWNED BY COMMUNICATIONS GURU JACK KENT COOKE, WHO LATER MOVED SOUTH OF THE BORDER AND OWNED THE WASHINGTON REDSKINS, LOS ANGELES KINGS AND LOS ANGELES LAKERS. PRIOR TO HIS CELEBRATED MAJOR LEAGUE CAREER IN CINCINNATI AND DETROIT, THE LATE SPARKY ANDERSON MANAGED THE MAPLE LEAFS.



GEORGE (SPARKY) ANDERSON MANAGED THE TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS IN THE 1964 INTERNATIONAL BASEBALL LEAGUE SEASON. HE LATER MANAGED IN THE BIG LEAGUES WITH CINCINNATI (1970-78) AND DETROIT (1979-95), WINNING THREE WORLD SERIES TITLES (1975-76-84). HE PASSED AWAY ON NOV. 4, 2010 AT 76 YEARS OF AGE.


MAPLE LEAF STADIUM (ABOVE) SAT NEAR LAKE ONTARIO AT THE FOOT OF BATHURST STREET, SOUTH OF LAKESHORE BLVD. THE TIP TOP TAILORS BUILDING WAS NEXT DOOR. THE STADIUM (1926-1967) WAS HOME TO THE BASEBALL TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS AND FOOTBALL TORONTO RIFLES.



THE MAJORITY OF SPORTS FANS IN THIS CITY PROBABLY AREN'T AWARE THAT THE TORONTO RAPTORS WERE THE SECOND NBA TEAM TO PLAY HERE. THE TORONTO HUSKIES (LOGO ABOVE) WERE A CHARTER MEMBER OF THE NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION IN THE 1946-47 SEASON. THE CLUB PLAYED AT MAPLE LEAF GARDENS; COMPILED A 22-38 RECORD; FAILED TO MAKE THE PLAYOFFS, AND THEN DISBANDED IN THE SUMMER OF 1947. THE HUSKIES WERE MANAGED BY LEW HAYMAN, A LEGENDARY FIGURE IN THE CANADIAN FOOTBALL LEAGUE WHO WOULD BE PRESIDENT OF THE ARGOS IN THE '60s.

 


BETWEEN MAY 1967, WHEN THE MAPLE LEAFS WON THEIR LAST STANLEY CUP, AND NOVEMBER 1983, WHEN THE ARGONAUTS WON THE GREY CUP FOR THE FIRST TIME IN 31 YEARS, ONLY THIS CLUB WAS ABLE TO CAPTURE A MAJOR SPORTS CHAMPIONSHIP. WELL, SORT OF MAJOR. LED BY PORTUGESE STAR EUSEBIO, TORONTO METROS-CROATIA WON SOCCER BOWL '76 AT THE KINGDOME IN SEATTLE, DEFEATING THE MINNESOTA KICKS, 3-0, FOR THE NORTH AMERICAN SOCCER LEAGUE (NASL) TITLE. ONLY 14,609 FANS SHOWED UP FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH IN THE 66,000-SEAT HOME OF THE SEATTLE MARINERS AND SEAHAWKS. METROS-CROATIA PLAYED ITS HOME GAMES AT THE UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO'S VARSITY STADIUM. KNOWN INITIALLY AS THE TORONTO METROS (TSN SOCCER ANALYST DICK HOWARD PLAYED GOAL FOR THE CLUB IN THE EARLY-'70s), THE FRANCHISE MERGED WITH TORONTO CROATIA OF THE SMALLER NATIONAL SOCCER LEAGUE. A THIRD VERSION - THE TORONTO BLIZZARD - HAD SOME SUCCESS IN THE LATE-'70s AT EXHIBITION STADIUM.



THE FIRST FOOTBALL GAME I ATTENDED FEATURED THE TORONTO RIFLES (ABOVE) AND WHEELING IRONMEN IN A CONTINENTAL LEAGUE ENCOUNTER AT VARSITY STADIUM ON NOV. 5, 1966. HOW DO I REMEMBER THIS? BY WAY OF A HOCKEY CONNECTION, HOW ELSE? ON THAT SATURDAY NIGHT, THE LEAFS AND NEW YORK RANGERS PLAYED AT MAPLE LEAF GARDENS. I HAD A CHOICE BETWEEN HOCKEY AND FOOTBALL TICKETS (AS A SEVEN-YEAR-OLD). TO THIS DAY, I DON'T KNOW WHY I OPTED TO SEE THE RIFLES, BUT I REMEMBER FEELING SAD LATER THAT NIGHT WHEN I LEARNED I HAD MISSED A LIVE PENALTY SHOT: BOB NEVIN OF THE RANGERS SCORED ON TERRY SAWCHUK, AND PENALTY SHOTS WERE QUITE THE NOVELTY IN THAT ERA. THE QUEBEC RIFLES MOVED TO TORONTO FOR THE 1965 FOOTBALL SEASON AND PLAYED AT MAPLE LEAF STADIUM. THE CLUB SWITCHED TO VARSITY STADIUM FOR ITS FINAL TWO SEASONS (1966 AND 1967). I REMEMBER THE RIFLES WEARING RED UNIFORMS WITH WHITE HELMETS. THE VISITORS FROM WHEELING, WEST VIRGINIA HAD WHITE JERSEYS AND GOLD PANTS. A COUPLE OF BIG NAMES FROM THE RIFLES MOVED UP TO THE ARGONAUTS: HEAD COACH LEO CAHILL AND STARTING QUARTERBACK TOM WILKINSON. UNDER CAHILL, THE RIFLES FINISHED WITH AN 11-3 RECORD IN 1965 AND LOST TO THE CHARLESTON ROCKETS IN THE LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP GAME.



LEO CAHILL WAS ALSO PART OF THIS ALMOST-FOOTBALL TEAM IN OUR CITY... AND WHAT A STORY IT BECAME EARLY IN 1974. THE TORONTO NORTHMEN (OWNED BY JOHNNY F. BASSETT, WHO ALSO OWNED THE WHA TORONTO TOROS) WERE AWARDED A CHARTER FRANCHISE IN THE WORLD FOOTBALL LEAGUE - FIRST OF SEVERAL PROPOSED RIVALS TO THE NFL - SCHEDULED TO BEGIN PLAY THAT SUMMER. THE MIAMI DOPLHINS HAD JUST WON THEIR SECOND CONSECUTIVE SUPER BOWL, DEFEATING MINNESOTA IN JANUARY 1974. JUST MORE THAN A MONTH LATER CAME THE STARTLING NEWS THAT THREE OF THE DOLPHINS' MOST DYNAMIC PLAYERS - RUNNING BACKS LARRY CSONKA AND JIM KIICK, AND WIDE RECEIVER PAUL WARFIELD - HAD SIGNED WITH BASSETT TO JOIN THE NORTHMEN FOR THE 1975 WFL SEASON. HERE IN TORONTO, THE ARGOS WERE VERY POPULAR AND THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT OF CANADA SAW THE NORTHMEN (PLAYING IN A U.S.-BASED LEAGUE) AS A THREAT TO THE CFL. PRIME MINISTER PIERRE ELLIOTT TRUDEAU AND HIS MINISTER OF NATIONAL HEALTH AND WELFARE, MARC LALONDE, ENACTED LEGISLATION THAT PRECLUDED AN AMERICAN-BASED FOOTBALL TEAM FROM SETTING UP SHOP NORTH OF THE BORDER. AS SUCH, THE NORTHMEN (MANAGED AND COACHED BY CAHILL) WERE RE-ROUTED TO MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE AND BECAME THE MEMPHIS SOUTHMEN (LOGICAL, HUH?). SO, THIS TORONTO LOGO NEVER SAW THE LIGHT OF DAY.

Varsity Blues Women


THE UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO HAS LONG BEEN ASSOCIATED WITH COLLEGE AND PROFESSIONAL SPORT IN OUR CITY. AS PART OF THE CANADIAN INTERUNIVERSITY ATHLETIC UNION (CIAU), ITS TEAMS ONCE DID EXCEPTIONALLY WELL IN FOOTBALL AND HOCKEY. THE FOOTBALL BLUES WON THE FIRST EVER COLLEGE BOWL (NOW VANIER CUP) IN 1965 AND WERE ONTARIO YATES CUP CHAMPIONS IN 1965-67-74-83-93. THE VARSITY FOOTBALL PROGRAM HAS FALLEN INTO STUNNING DISREPAIR IN THE PAST DECADE: THE BLUES COMPILING A HORRID 7-73 RECORD SINCE 2001 (0-48 OVER SIX FULL SEASONS - 2002-07). SIMILARLY, THE MEN'S HOCKEY TEAM HAS FAILED TO WIN A CHAMPIONSHIP SINCE 1984. IT WAS ONCE A POWERHOUSE, CAPTURING NINE CIAU TITLES UNDER COACH TOM WATT (1966-67-69-70-71-72-73-76-77). THE U of T's TWO FACILITIES - VARSITY STADIUM AND VARSITY ARENA - HAVE HOUSED FOUR PROFESSIONAL TEAMS (TORONTO TOROS; TORONTO ARGONAUTS; TORONTO RIFLES; TORONTO METROS-CROATIA).

File:Varsity Centre.JPG
THE UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO'S VARSITY STADIUM (ABOVE), SHORTLY BEFORE DEMOLITION IN 2002 (PHOTO COURTESY OF WIKIPEDIA). I SAW MY FIRST LIVE FOOTBALL GAME THERE IN NOVEMBER 1966 BETWEEN THE TORONTO RIFLES AND WHEELING IRONMEN. THE BARN-LIKE STRUCTURE IN BACK OF THE STANDS IS THE ROOF OF VARSITY ARENA, HOME OF THE WHA TORONTO TOROS IN 1973-74.



THE REFURBISHED VARSITY STADIUM IS NOW CALLED VARSITY CENTRE - IN THE EXACT SPOT ON BLOOR STREET, WEST OF UNIVERSITY AVENUE. THE SCALED-DOWN VERSION IS STILL HOME TO THE VARSITY BLUES FOOTBALL TEAM, BUT IS USED PRIMARILY FOR TRACK AND FIELD. AT BOTTOM-RIGHT IN PHOTO IS VARSITY ARENA. 


THIS WAS THE LOGO FOR THE 1991 MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL ALL-STAR GAME - THE LONE EVENT TO BE PLAYED IN TORONTO. A CROWD OF 52,383 PACKED EVERY CORNER OF SKYDOME TO WATCH THE AMERICAN LEAGUE DEFEAT THE NATIONAL LEAGUE, 4-2. THE GAME WAS TELECAST BY CBS WITH THE BROADCAST TEAM OF JACK BUCK AND TIM McCARVER. SECOND-BASEMAN ROBERTO ALOMAR WAS THE LONE MEMBER OF THE HOST TORONTO BLUE JAYS TO EARN A STARTING POSITION FOR THE AMERICAN LEAGUE. ANOTHER BLUE JAY, JIMMY KEY, WAS THE WINNING PITCHER IN RELIEF. CAL RIPKEN JR. OF THE BALTIMORE ORIOLES WAS GAME MVP.




SITUATED AT THE BASE OF THE CN TOWER (TOP), SKYDOME (NOW ROGERS CENTRE) WAS THE ONLY STADIUM IN THE WORLD WITH A FULLY RETRACTABLE ROOF WHEN IT OPENED IN JUNE 1989. ABOVE IS THE STADIUM'S INITIAL LOGO.


FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE 1968, TORONTO PLAYED HOST TO THE NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE ALL-STAR GAME IN 2000 - DURING THE MAPLE LEAFS FIRST FULL SEASON AT THE AIR CANADA CENTRE; IT WAS THE 50th ANNIVERSARY OF THE EVENT (GAME'S OFFICIAL LOGO ABOVE). THE FORMAT FEATURED NORTH AMERICAN-BORN PLAYERS FACING OFF AGAINST THEIR EUROPEAN-BORN COUNTERPARTS. THE "WORLD" TEAM, AS IT WAS KNOWN, SKATED TO A 9-4 VICTORY ON FEB. 6, 2000 BEFORE THE USUAL SELL-OUT THRONG AT THE ACC. A PAIR OF MAPLE LEAFS WERE NAMED TO THE STARTING ROSTERS: GOALIE CURTIS JOSEPH ON THE NORTH AMERICAN SIDE; CENTRE MATS SUNDIN FOR THE EUROPEANS. ANOTHER LEAF - DEFENSEMAN DMITRY YUSHKEVICH - WAS ADDED TO THE WORLD SQUAD AND CHIPPED IN WITH A GOAL AND AN ASSIST. THE GAME'S MVP WAS PAVEL BURE OF THE FLORIDA PANTHERS; HE HAD THREE GOALS AND AN ASSIST. BROTHER VALERI BURE OF THE CALGARY FLAMES ASSISTED ON TWO OF PAVEL'S GOALS. THE BURE'S THUS BECAME THE FIRST BROTHERS TO COMBINE ON A GOAL IN THE ALL-STAR GAME SINCE MAURICE AND HENRI RICHARD IN THE 1956 EVENT IN MONTREAL.


IN JUNE 2002, AND FOR ONLY THE SECOND TIME, THE NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE ENTRY DRAFT WAS HELD HERE IN TOWN. A PACKED AIR CANADA CENTRE SAW THE COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS SELECT LONDON KNIGHTS WINGER RICK NASH FIRST OVERALL. WITH PICKS NO. 24 AND 57, THE MAPLE LEAFS CHOSE CENTRE ALEX STEEN OF VASTRA FROLUNDA AND CENTRE MATT STAJAN OF THE BELLEVILLE BULLS. THE DRAFT HAD ALSO BEEN HELD HERE IN 1985 - AT THE METRO TORONTO CONVENTION CENTRE. ON THAT OCCASION, LEAFS HAD THE NO. 1 PICK AND LANDED FORWARD WENDEL CLARK FROM SASKATOON OF THE WESTERN HOCKEY LEAGUE.



THIS PATCH WAS THE HANDIWORK OF KEN DRYDEN, WHO RAN THE MAPLE LEAFS WHEN THEY MOVED FROM THE GARDENS TO THE AIR CANADA CENTRE IN FEBRUARY 1999; THE LOGO STILL HANGS FROM A GIRDER IN THE ACC. WITH HIS FLARE FOR NOSTALGIA AND ELOQUENT SPEECH , DRYDEN WAS THE PERFECT INDIVIDUAL TO PULL OFF THE TRANSITION CEREMONY. ON FEB. 13, 1999, THE LEAFS WERE CLOBBERED, 6-2, BY CHICAGO IN THEIR FINAL HOCKEY GAME AT THE GARDENS; EX-LEAF DOUG GILMOUR SCORING THE WINNING THIRD BLACKHAWKS GOAL. AN ELABORATE POST-GAME CELEBRATION SAW MOST LIVING MEMBERS OF THE LEAFS ALUMNI MARCH ONTO THE ICE. CAPTAIN MATS SUNDIN RECEIVED A FLAG FROM THE LATE RED HORNER, A MEMBER OF THE ORIGINAL LEAFS, WHO HAD PLAYED IN THE FIRST GAME AT THE GARDENS ON NOV. 12, 1931. A WEEK LATER (FEB. 20, 1999), THE LEAFS HOSTED MONTREAL IN THEIR INAUGURAL MATCH AT THE ACC. SPEEDY WINGER TODD WARRINER SCORED THE FIRST GOAL IN THE NEW ARENA.



THESE THREE INTERIOR PHOTOS OF MAPLE LEAF GARDENS WERE TAKEN ON MAR. 16, 2009 AND ARE AMONG THE LAST IMAGES OF THE ARENA BEFORE IT BEGAN A MASSIVE RENOVATION ON BEHALF OF CO-PROPRIETORS THE LOBLAW COMPANY AND RYERSON UNIVERSITY. A LARGE GROCERY OUTLET WILL SOON OPEN ON THE GROUND LEVEL OF THE GARDENS, WHILE THE INTERIOR IS BEING RECONFIGURED INTO A MULTI-SPORT VENUE FOR RYERSON. THE GARDENS EXTERIOR WILL REMAIN LARGELY AS IT HAS SINCE THE BUILDING OPENED IN 1931.

[BallardImprint.jpg]

FOOT-PRINTS LEFT BEHIND BY LEAFS OWNER HAROLD BALLARD ON JULY 29, 1983 WHEN NEW CONCRETE WAS PORED AT MAPLE LEAF GARDENS.

File:Maple Leaf Gardens, east side.JPG

AERIAL PHOTO OF MAPLE LEAF GARDENS (COURTESY WIKIPEDIA) TAKEN ON MAY 25, 2008. IT WAS A GREAT OLD BUILDING WHOSE REPUTATION WAS BADLY SCARRED BY THE UNCOVERING OF A PEDOPHILE RING THAT OPERATED WITHIN ITS WALLS FOR A NUMBER OF YEARS. THOUGH MANY OF US REFLECT FONDLY ON THE GARDENS FOR ITS HOCKEY MEMORIES, WE MUST NEVER FORGET THOSE WHO WERE PHYSICALLY ABUSED.

Air Canada Centre

THE MAPLE LEAFS MOVED INTO AIR CANADA CENTRE (ABOVE) ON FEB. 20, 1999 - DEFEATING MONTREAL CANADIENS ON AN OVERTIME GOAL BY STEVE THOMAS.

Toronto Maple Leafs A to Z

MANY OF THE LEAFS ALL-TIME GREATS ARE DEPICTED IN BANNERS THAT HANG IN THE AIR CANADA CENTRE - ABOVE (L-R) BILL BARILKO, JOHNNY BOWER, RED KELLY, TIM HORTON, TED KENNEDY, GEORGE ARMSTRONG, BORJE SALMING AND DARRYL SITTLER.



ON NOV. 8, 1986, ONE OF THE MOST BELOVED INDIVIDUALS IN MAPLE LEAFS HISTORY PASSED AWAY AT 83 YEARS OF AGE. FRANK (KING) CLANCY, A SMALL BUT FEISTY DEFENSEMAN, PLAYED FOR THE LEAFS FROM 1930-37 AND COACHED THE HOCKEY CLUB FROM 1953-56. HE BECAME PAID CARETAKER OF THE BLUE AND WHITE IN THE 1960s, WHEN PUNCH IMLACH LEANED ON HIM FOR EVERYTHING BUT PERSONNEL DECISIONS. CLANCY'S CHEERFUL DEMEANOR NICELY OFFSET IMLACH'S SNARL - AS IT LATER DID THE IRASCIBILITY OF OWNER HAROLD BALLARD. IN CLANCY'S FINAL DECADE, HE WAS RARELY SEEN OUTSIDE BALLARD'S PRESENCE - TRAVELING WITH THE LEAFS' OWNER TO ALL ROAD GAMES, THEN DOING THE SAME IN FOOTBALL WHEN BALLARD PURCHASED THE CFL'S HAMILTON TIGER-CATS IN 1978. AFTER CLANCY TOOK ILL AND DIED, BALLARD ORDERED A MEMORIAL PATCH (ABOVE) TO BE DESIGNED AND WORN ON THE SHOULDER OF ALL LEAF PLAYERS FOR THE REMAINDER OF THE 1986-87 SEASON.

[BallardClancy.jpg]

BEST PALS HAROLD BALLARD (LEFT) AND KING CLANCY IN 1978 DURING BALLARD'S CO-OWNERSHIP OF THE MAPLE LEAFS AND HAMILTON TIGER-CATS. BALLARD DIED THREE-AND-A-HALF YEARS AFTER CLANCY, ON APR. 11, 1990.



SHOULDER-PATCH (ABOVE) WORN BY PLAYERS ON THE MAPLE LEAFS IN THE 1996-97 SEASON TO COMMEMORATE THE 65th ANNIVERSARY OF THE GARDENS. 



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