Saturday, 19 April 2014 20:00

Leo Cahill

Leo Cahill was born in Utica, Illinois and from his earliest days as a youth, was captivated by football. After a superb high school career, Leo attended the University of Illinois on a football scholarship, appearing in the 1947 Rose Bowl game.

His professional coaching career began in the early 1960s in Montreal, where Cahill was an assistant coach with the Montreal Alouettes football team. His move to Toronto shortly thereafter, saw him take over direction of the Toronto Rifles of the Continental Football League. He made the move to the Argonauts just before the 1967 season and immediately made them a force to be reckoned with. Cahill coached the Argonauts three separate times, and had two Grey Cup appearances in 1971 and 1987.

Leo Cahill is one of the biggest names in Argonaut and Toronto sports history. He will always be remembered as one of the finest, most colorful coaches in the game and perhaps the best recruiter of talent ever in the CFL. Since 2004, Cahill has been serving as "goodwill ambassador" with the Argonauts. He has five children, Steve, Christy, Terry, Lisa and Bettye.

Published in 2013 Inductees
Sunday, 30 March 2014 20:00

Lew Hayman

Lewis Edward "Lew" Hayman (September 30, 1908 – June 29, 1984) was one of the driving forces behind the Canadian Football League as coach, general manager, team president, and league president. As head coach, he was a five-time Grey Cup winner with three different teams. Hayman was a pioneer in bringing African Americans into the CFL, hiring professional football's first Black player, Herb Trawick and coach Willie Wood.

Hayman was born in New York City and grew up in Paterson, New Jersey. He attended New York Military Academy and was a star basketball player at Syracuse University, where he was a three-year starter and named College Humor third team All-American in 1931. He also played for the Syracuse football team.

After graduating, Hayman moved to Canada in 1932 to become assistant coach of the University of Toronto football team under Warren Stevens. He was soon also hired as an assistant to coach Buck McKenna with the Toronto Argonauts football team. When McKenna took ill during the 1932 season, Hayman became interim head coach. He was given the job outright for the 1933 season and, at the age of 25, guided the Argonauts to a Grey Cup championship. He followed that with back-to-back Grey Cup wins in 1937 and 1938. With World War II escalating, the major Canadian football leagues halted operations following the 1941 season and Hayman joined the Royal Canadian Air Force as a flying officer. He was made coach of Toronto's RCAF football team and led the Toronto RCAF Hurricanes to the 1942 Grey Cup championship. He was discharged after the war, having reached the rank of flight lieutenant. Hayman thought he had an agreement with the Argonauts to return as head coach when play resumed in 1945, but the deal fell through and Ted Morris was hired instead. That left Hayman with bitter feelings toward his former team—which admitted that they had misled him—and Hayman had to settle for a job as coach of the Toronto Indians football team. One of the members of the Indians was future CFL commissioner Jake Gaudaur, who had also played under Hayman in the RCAF.

The following season, Hayman partnered with Eric Cradock and Leo Dandurand to form the Montreal Alouettes CFL team, with Hayman as head coach and general manager, as well as part-owner. In his first season, he broke the league's color barrier by signing Herb Trawick, an African American lineman. Other innovations introduced by the Alouettes under Hayman were playing night games, scheduling games on Sundays, and allowing games to be televised. During the off-season in 1946, Hayman became general manager of the Toronto Huskies professional basketball team, the first Canadian-based team in what evolved into the National Basketball Association (known at the time as the Basketball Association of America). When the team's first coach quit a month into the season, Hayman took his place for one game, and is in the record books as having been an NBA coach for that single game. The Huskies disbanded after one money-losing season. Hayman led the Alouettes to their first Grey Cup in 1949—Hayman's fifth and final Grey Cup as head coach. Following the 1951 season, Hayman stepped down as coach but continued as general manager until the end of the 1954 season, when he sold his share of the Alouettes and moved back to Toronto to become a stockbroker.

Hayman was elected to the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1975. The CFL award presented to the outstanding Canadian player in the East Division is called the Lew Hayman Trophy. In 2004, he was inducted into the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.

Published in 2004 Inductees
Wednesday, 02 April 2014 20:00

Lionel Conacher

Lionel Pretoria Conacher, MP (May 24, 1900 – May 26, 1954), nicknamed "The Big Train", was Canada's top all-around athlete in the 1920s, excelling in Canadian football, ice hockey, lacrosse, baseball, boxing and wrestling. He later became a politician and was elected to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario and the Canadian House of Commons.

Conacher was born in Toronto, Ontario in 1900. He grew up in poverty and was one of ten children. His father was a Toronto teamster. Lionel quit school after the 8th grade to help support his family. He soon realized that sports offered a way out of poverty. He then pursued athletic success.

Junior football and rugby

Lionel first played organized football from 1912-1916 with a Toronto junior team, the Capitals, where he played middle wing (offensive tackle). Canadian football was different then from what it is today. There were fourteen players a side and a touchdown was worth only five points (as it had been in the U. S. before 1912). The Capital won the city championship each year Conacher was a member of the team. In 1919 he played halfback on the Ontario Rugby Football Union's (ORFU) Capitals. In 1920 Conochar joined the Toronto Rugby Club in the senior division of the ORFU.

Toronto Argonauts

He went on to play for the Toronto Argonauts, and was part of the 1921 Grey Cup winning team. This was the first Grey Cup game ever played between the eastern and western champions. Lionel scored two touchdowns for the Argonauts.[3] The very next season Lionel was named as team captain of the Argonauts. The team went undefeated again, with one tied game. Conacher rushed for 950 yards, in six regular-season games, including 215 yards on eight carries against Ottawa. Conacher only played two season with the Argonauts. While he played for them, the team was 15-1-1 in regular-season and play-off competition, winning one Grey Cup. He also set a season record by scoring 33 singles, including eight on 25 punts in another game versus Ottawa. This record still holds today, even though Canadian teams now play sixteen games instead of six.

Canadian Pro Football

By 1932, Conacher was a professional in four sports and ineligible to play Canadian football, which was still exclusively amateur. Therefore in 1933, he organized the first professional football league in Canada. He played halfback and captained the Toronto Crosse and Blackwell Chefs. The team was named for its sponsor, a food products company. The Chefs played teams from Rochester and Buffalo. In 1934 Conacher's team was called the Wrigley Aromints, because of a change of sponsors, this year marked his last year in football.

In 1963 Lionel Conacher was chosen as one of the charter members of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame. However while football was Lionel's favorite sport, it did not pay well in the 1920s and 30's. However hockey did pay well and Conacher began to play more hockey games.

Hockey Career

From 1925 to 1937, Conacher played in the National Hockey League with the Pittsburgh Pirates, New York Americans, Chicago Blackhawks, and Montreal Maroons. Winning the Stanley Cup in 1934 with the Chicago Blackhawks, and 1935 with the Montreal Maroons.

Hockey was Conacher's weakest sport. Conacher didn't start skating until he was 16 years old. However he quickly learned the skill while with the Toronto Century Rovers and the Aura Lee Athletic Club. He then joined the Toronto Canoe Club juniors in 1919-20. The club captured both the Ontario Hockey Associations junior crown and the Memorial Cup that season. Conacher then returned to the Aura Lees to play for their senior team for two years.

In 1922, Conacher played hockey for the North Toronto Seniors and he was in the line-up on February 8, 1923, in the first hockey match ever broadcast on radio. At this stage, Conacher was so highly regarded that the Toronto St. Pats and Montreal Canadiens both invited him to play in the NHL. That year while still active in amateur baseball, hockey and lacrosse, Lionel turned down an offer by Montreal Canadians manager, Leo Dandurand, to turn pro. Dandurand is reported to have offered Conacher $5,000 plus help in setting up his own business.

In 1924 and 1925, Conacher captained the Pittsburgh Yellow Jackets as they won consecutive United States Amateur Hockey Association titles. The following year the Yellow Jackets became the expansion Pittsburgh Pirates of the NHL. He was instrumental in keeping most of the Yellow Jackets together when the team went professional.

Conacher went professional when he joined the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1925. He was soon named the team's captain and scored the first goal in franchise history, against the Boston Bruins on November 26. On December 2, in front of 8,200 fans, Lionel also scored the Pirates first goal in Pittsburgh.

In 1927 Conacher was traded to the New York Americans, where he played four seasons and played alongside defencemen Leo Reise and Bill Brydge. In 1929 until 1930, Conacher served as the Americans player-coach.

Conacher joined the Montreal Maroons for the 1931 season. His time with the team included a career-best 28 points in 1932-33. He then joined the Chicago Blackhawks for the 1933 season, and was a key figure in the club's first-ever Stanley Cup victory that season. He finished second to the Canadiens' Aurel Joliat in the voting for the Hart Trophy and earned a spot on the NHL's First All-Star Team.

The next season, Conacher returned to the Maroons, where he'd spend his last three NHL seasons and won his second Stanley Cup in 1935. He ended his hockey career after the Maroons were eliminated from the playoffs by the New York Rangers on April 23, 1937. That final year he was runner-up to Babe Siebert in the 1937 Hart Trophy voting and was placed on the NHL Second All-Star Team.

Other sports

Baseball

In 1920, Lionel hit the game-winning home run to give his team the Toronto semipro baseball crown, then promptly took a taxi across the city and scored four goals for his lacrosse team, which was losing 3-0 when he arrived. In 1926, he played professional baseball as an outfielder for the Toronto Maple Leafs of the International League. His team won the pennant and the Triple A championship.

Boxing

In 1920 Lionel won the Canadian amateur light heavyweight boxing title. In 1921 Lionel boxed a four-round exhibition with Jack Dempsey.

Lacrosse

Lionel also played lacrosse for the Toronto Maitlands, and helped guide that team to the Ontario Senior Lacrosse championship in 1922. In 1931, Conacher became professional in a third sport when he played for the Montreal Maroons in the International Indoor Professional Lacrosse League. In 1965, he was inducted into the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame.

Wrestling

In 1916 Conacher won the amateur lightweight wrestling championship of Ontario in the 125 pound weight class at age 16 year old. After training with Ali Hassan, he made his pro debut in May 1932 for Toronto promoter Ivan Mickailoff. Conacher went 27-0 as a pro wrestler in Canada and the United States in 1933 and never lost a match in his career.

Published in 1996 Inductees
Wednesday, 26 March 2014 20:00

Michael "Pinball" Clemons

Michael Clemons was born in Clearwater, Florida in 1965. He became a Canadian Football League icon and developed into a national sports hero and endearing personality.

He attended the College of William & Mary in Virginia where he was NCAA – Division 1, -AA, All-American in 1986.

Drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs in 1987, Clemons ended up joining the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League in 1989. Picking up the nickname “Pinball” for his elusive running style, he established the single season pro football combined yardage record of 3,840 yards in 1990. Over his 11 year career with the Argonauts, Mr. Clemons retired with a CFL record of 25,396 total yards.

Clemons won the Jeff Russell Memorial Award in recognition of being an Eastern Conference All-Star 4 times in his career. He was the CFL all-star 2 times and the CFL outstanding player in 1990. ‘Pinball’ was on Grey Cup winning teams in 1991, 1996 and 1997. He won the Tom Pate Memorial Award in 1993 and 1996; a CFLPA award from his peers for sportsmanship and off-field contributions to society.

Leaving the playing field Pinball became an outstanding Head Coach for the Argonauts, winning a Grey Cup in 2004. He was a CFL ‘coach of the year’ nominee 2002, 2003 and 2004. He retired from coaching to become the President and CEO of the Toronto Argonauts Football Club in 2007.

Mr. Clemons was awarded the Order of Ontario in 2001.

Michael Clemons is a member of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame.

Published in 2009 Inductees
Monday, 31 March 2014 20:00

Red Storey

Roy Alvin "Red" Storey, CM (March 5, 1918 – March 15, 2006) was a Canadian football player and National Hockey League referee.

Born in Barrie, Ontario, Storey was working in a rail yard when he received an offer to play football with the Toronto Argonauts. He was on the team for six seasons from 1936 to 1941, winning the Grey Cup in 1937 and 1938. In the 1938 Grey Cup, Storey scored three touchdowns in twelve minutes (all in the fourth quarter) of the 1938 game to give the Argos the victory. After his performance, he received offers from the New York Giants and the Chicago Bears of the National Football League, but he declined. He was forced to retire after suffering a knee injury. At the same time he was playing football, Storey was also playing competitive lacrosse. In the Ontario Lacrosse Association, he played for Orillia and was an all-star with the Hamilton Tigers in 1941. Storey was also a prominent senior men's baseball player and received an offer from the Philadelphia Athletics of the American League.

As a defenceman, he played hockey in New Jersey for the Rivervale Skeeters in 1941. Storey then moved to Montreal and joined the Montreal Royals late in the 1941–42 season. He played lacrosse for Lachine in 1942 and 1943. He later joined the Montreal Canadiens lacrosse team, and was playing there in 1946.

By the mid-1940s, Storey—in addition to his regular job—was officiating football, lacrosse, and hockey games. He officiated for 12 years in the precursor to the Canadian Football League.

Storey became an NHL referee in 1950 and worked in the league until 1959. On April 4, 1959, he was officiating a playoff game between the Montreal Canadiens and the Chicago Black Hawks, which Montreal won—along with the series—scoring the winning goal with 88 seconds left in the sixth game. Chicago fans nearly rioted, and Black Hawks coach Rudy Pilous accused Storey of choking by not calling penalties against the Canadiens late in the game. Storey was scheduled to referee the final game in the series between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Boston Bruins, but when an Ottawa newspaper reported that NHL president Clarence Campbell said that Storey had "frozen" on two calls that should have been penalties against the Canadiens, Storey immediately resigned. He never returned to the NHL. His career included 480 regular season games and seven consecutive Stanley Cup finals from 1952 through 1958.

He was popular with NHL players because he talked with them. Gump Worsley said of Storey in his autobiography They Call Me Gump: "When Red Storey was refereeing in the NHL, I used to ask him where he was going to get a beer after the game. He usually told me, too."

Following his retirement from the NHL, Storey remained active in oldtimers' games, worked as a TV commentator, and was a popular raconteur.

Storey was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame (1967) and Canada's Sports Hall of Fame (1986) and was made a Member of the Order of Canada in 1991. He was 88 when he died in Montreal after a lengthy illness. His son, Bob Storey, was also a two-time Grey Cup winner (1967, 1970).

Published in 2001 Inductees
Wednesday, 02 April 2014 20:00

Russ Jackson

Russell Stanley "Russ" Jackson (born July 28, 1936 in Hamilton, Ontario) is a former professional Canadian football quarterback. Jackson spent his entire 12-year professional football career with the Ottawa Rough Riders of the Canadian Football League. He is a member of the Order of Canada, the Canadian Football Hall of Fame, and Canada's Sports Hall of Fame, and has been described as the best Canadian-born quarterback to play in the CFL. In 2006, Jackson was voted one of the CFL's Top 50 players (#8) of the league's modern era by Canadian sports network TSN, the highest-ranked Canadian-born player on the list.

Early life and college career

After a stellar college career as both a basketball and football player, Jackson graduated from McMaster University in 1958 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics. He was the McMaster nominee for a Rhodes Scholarship, but did not pursue an interview for the scholarship, deciding instead to sign with the Ottawa Rough Riders of the Canadian Football League, who drafted him in the first round of the 1958 CFL draft.

Professional football career

Originally signed as a defensive back, Jackson ended up quarterbacking the Rough Riders to three Grey Cup victories (48th, 56th, and 57th Grey Cups).

Jackson was honoured many times during his CFL career. He won the CFL's Most Outstanding Player Award in the 1963, 1966, and 1969 seasons. He was also a four-time winner of the CFL's Most Outstanding Canadian Award (1959, 1963, 1966, 1969 seasons). He was a six-time Eastern Conference All-Star quarterback (1962, 1963, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969) and the CFL All-Star quarterback in the 1966, 1968, and 1969 seasons.

Russ Jackson was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1973. Many consider him one of the best Canadian-born players to play in the CFL, while most consider him to be the best Canadian to play the quarterback position. In November, 2006, Jackson was voted one of the CFL's top 50 players (#8) of the league's modern era by Canadian sports network TSN.

Jackson ended his career with 24,592 passing yards, with 1,356 completions on 2,530 attempts (53.6%), 125 interceptions, 185 touchdowns, and an efficiency rating of 90.83. He was also a mobile quarterback, gaining 5,045 yards on the ground on 738 rushes, with 54 touchdowns. Among the few Canadian-born quarterbacks to play in the CFL, Jackson is the only one to pass for over 20,000 yards. In fact, he is the only one to exceed 10,000 career yards. Other Canadians, such as Don Getty, Frank Cosentino, and Gerry Dattilio, are well behind Jackson in statistics. At the time of his retirement following the 1969 Grey Cup, he was third all-time among all quarterbacks in the CFL, behind only Sam Etcheverry and one-time teammate Ron Lancaster.

Published in 1995 Inductees
Tuesday, 16 September 2014 20:00

Tony Gabriel

A native of Burlington, Tony Gabriel starred as a 2-sport athlete in high school. A 6’4 forward who led his Burlington Central High Basketball team to the provincial Championship. As a senior, he once scored 48 points in one game, single-handedly outscoring the opposition on that night.

But it was on the gridiron, where the BCHS Athlete of the year really made his mark. While playing for the high school squad, Gabriel also played for the Junior Burlington Braves. He was scouted by a number of American Colleges and decided to follow his scholarship opportunities at Syracuse University where he played split-end for coach Ben Schwartzwalder.

After a very successful College career, Gabriel turned professional, with the Hamilton Ti-Cats, his home-town team. In his 2nd season as a pro, the lanky receiver caught 49 passes for 733 yards and 3 touchdowns and helped lead his team to a Grey Cup Title over Saskatchewan. But he was just getting started

In 1974, Gabriel joined the Ottawa Roughriders, and it was there, catching passes for fellow Ontario native Russ Jackson, that his career really took off.

5 times over the next 7 years, he hauled in over 1 thousand yards in passes per season. He caught the game winning pass in the 1976 Grey Cup, for his 2nd title.

In 1977 and 1978, Gabriel led the league in reception yards with 1320 and 1362 respectively. Also, in 1978 he won the Schenley Award as the CFL’s Most Valuable Player. It would take 35 years for another Canadian to turn the trick.

4 times he was named the League’s top Canadian, and he was an All-Star in 9 of his 11 pro seasons. Gabriel suffered a knee injury in the 1981 Grey Cup game and was forced into retirement.

He was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1986 and is still listed among the top receivers of all time.

Published in 2014 Inductees
Tuesday, 01 April 2014 20:00

Tony Golab

Nicknamed the Golden Boy, Anthony Charles (Tony) Golab, (born January 17, 1919) the classy Windsor native took the CFL by storm during a career that began in 1939 and ended in 1950. He was part of the 1941 and 1948 Grey Cup finalists teams and was part of the winning 1940 Grey Cup champions.

In 1985, he was made a Member of the Order of Canada. In 1964, he was elected to the Canadian Football Hall of Fame. In 1975, he was inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame.

Published in 1997 Inductees
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