Monday, 31 March 2014 20:00

Brian McFarlane

Brian McFarlane (born August 10, 1931 in New Liskeard, Ontario) is a Canadian television sportscaster and author. He is also the Honorary President of the Society for International Hockey Research. He is the son of the prolific writer Leslie McFarlane who wrote many of the early Hardy Boys books.

Brian McFarlane attended St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York, on a hockey scholarship, graduating in 1955. In his four years he scored 101 goals for the Skating Saints, which remains a St. Lawrence record. On three occasions, he scored five goals in a game, a school record shared with several others.

After graduating, he worked in television at WRGB in Schenectady, New York, before moving to CFCF-TV in Montreal, Quebec (where he was sports director) and CFTO in Toronto, Ontario. He had a lengthy career in broadcasting and journalism.

National Hockey League broadcasting

He is perhaps best known as a commentator on Hockey Night in Canada for 25 years. He made similar broadcasts on NHL games for the major American networks CBS and NBC and has written more than 50 books on hockey. McFarlane is an expert on hockey history and has compiled several volumes of NHL lore titled "It Happened in Hockey," as well as a 1999 series detailing the colorful history of the Original Six NHL teams. His memoirs, published by Stoddart Publishing in 2000, are entitled Brian McFarlane's World of Hockey.

Published in 1999 Inductees
Wednesday, 02 April 2014 20:00

Foster Hewitt

Foster William Hewitt, OC (November 21, 1902 – April 21, 1985) was a Canadian radio pioneer.

Born in Toronto, Ontario, Hewitt attended Upper Canada College and the University of Toronto. He was a champion boxer in his student years, winning the intercollegiate title at 112 pounds. Hewitt developed an early interest in radio and as a teenager accompanied his father, W. A. Hewitt, on a trip to Detroit, Michigan to see a demonstration of radio technology sponsored by General Electric.

He took a job with Independent Telephone Company, which manufactured radios, and left that job and university when his father—the sports editor of the Toronto Daily Star—told him that the Star was going to start its own radio station. Hewitt became a reporter at the paper, and was ready to go on the air when CFCA was launched. CFCA's first hockey broadcast was on February 8, 1923, although it was colleague Norman Albert who performed the play-by-play. Hewitt's first broadcast likely was February 16, of a game between the Toronto Argonaut Rowing Club and the Kitchener Greenshirts. Hewitt recalls the date as March 22 in his own book, but there was no game that night at the Arena Gardens. Hewitt's book mentions his first broadcast as being of a game between Parkdale and Kitchener, and the Argonaut Club is based in Parkdale, a neighbourhood of Toronto. He also mentions the game as going into overtime which the Argonaut-Kitchener game did.

On May 24, 1925, Hewitt and his father made what was said to be the world's first broadcast of a horse race. In 1927, he was invited as guest announcer to broadcast the first game from the new Detroit Olympia. Hewitt was part of the opening night ceremonies for Maple Leaf Gardens in November 1931, and the broadcast gondola where Hewitt would broadcast from was brought into the plans with his input, and the blessings of then Leafs owner Conn Smythe.

For forty years, Hewitt was Canada's premier hockey play-by-play broadcaster on Hockey Night in Canada, the first radio program widely listened to in Canada. He coined the phrase "he shoots, he scores!" and was also well known for his sign-on at the beginning of each broadcast, "Hello, Canada, and hockey fans in the United States and Newfoundland." (Newfoundland was a British Colony before joining Canada in 1949.)

Hewitt's Hockey Night in Canada broadcasts were simulcast on television until 1963 when he handed over the television broadcasts to his son, Bill Hewitt. In 1951, he started his own radio station in Toronto, CKFH, initially at AM 1400 kHz, until moving to 1430 in 1959. The station carried Leafs games until losing the rights in 1978. In 1981, the station was sold to Telemedia and was renamed CJCL.

Published in 1996 Inductees
Sunday, 30 March 2014 20:00

Jim Hunt

Jim "Shaky" Hunt (9 November 1926 - 9 March 2006) was a Canadian sports columnist who spent over 50 years as a journalist and covered the biggest events in sports including the Stanley Cup, the Super Bowl, the Olympics, all of golf’s majors and the 1972 Canada-Russia Summit Series. Hunt was known as "Shaky" thanks to his intramural goaltending career at the University of Western Ontario, where he was part of the school’s first journalism graduating class, in 1948.

Born and raised in Sarnia, Ontario, Hunt began his 50-plus years in journalism when he joined the Toronto Daily Star in 1948, working first as a city news reporter.

At the Star’s sports department, he worked under Milt Dunnell in 1953 and later the Star’s former weekly magazine as sports editor. While with the Star, one challenging assignment saw him smuggling a gun — he opted for a fake one made of wood — in a gun case into Maple Leaf Gardens in 1956 during a Toronto Maple Leafs playoff game against the Detroit Red Wings. The objective for Hunt was to test the Gardens’ security. He was able to get past the ticket-takers and the Star ran the picture of him and the gun case on the front page the next day.

Along the way he interviewed a long list of well-known figures in the sports world and outside it. He wrote a biography in the mid-1960s on hockey legend Bobby Hull. It was titled, Bobby Hull: The first million dollar hockey player. He had lunch with Marilyn Monroe and took notes while chatting with Yankee great Mickey Mantle. He also interviewed legendary boxers, Rocky Marciano, Sonny Liston and Muhammad Ali. As well as sharing drinks with Queen Elizabeth II on her private yacht during the Montreal Olympics.

His interview with Ali took place in a midtown Manhattan hotel room prior to Ali’s 1964 upset win over Sonny Liston. After telling Hunt what he was going to do to Liston, the young and brash Ali (then known as Cassius Clay) burst into one of his trademark verses. "After I beat Liston I’ll be sad, then there’ll be no one to make me mad. His book also described what it was like covering the hockey riots in 1955 in Montreal. The incident occurred after the NHL suspended Canadiens great Maurice Richard for attacking a Boston Bruins player with his stick, and later going after a linesman who tried to stop him. Hunt said it was a day he’d never forget, "one of the blackest in the history of hockey".

He moved to CKEY in 1967 as sports director of the AM radio station, eventually becoming news director. Hunt credited the CKEY job with giving him the opportunity to cover the 1972 and 1974 Canada-Russia hockey series.

In 1983, he became sports columnist with the Toronto Sun. He would later co-host a sports program with Bob McCown called Prime Time Sports on Toronto’s The Fan 590 radio station while with the paper.

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

Milt Dunnel

Milt was a Canadian sportswriter, joining The Toronto Star in 1942 and becoming sports editor in 1949. He wrote on almost all sports during his career, which lasted more than fifty years. In the 1990s, he was still writing three columns per week until the age of 94. Dunnell covered the Olympic Games from 1952 through 1968. He also wrote extensively on Stanley Cup, Grey Cup and Kentucky Derby events as well as baseball (long before the Blue Jays arrived in 1977). Born in St, Marys, December 34th, 1905, Dunnell entered journalism with the Stratford Beacon Herald in the 1920s. Milt died on January 3, 2008 at the age of 102.

Dunnell received the Elmer Ferguson Memorial Award in 1984 being honoured by the Hockey Hall of Fame. In 1988 he received the Jack Graney Award for his contribution to baseball in Canada.

Dunnell was inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame and the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame in 1991. The city of Toronto named a baseball diamond after Dunnell on June 10, 2006, at Bond Park , in a ceremony that he was able to attend.

Published in 1995 Inductees
Monday, 31 March 2014 20:00

Trent Frayne

Trent Frayne (pictured, right of Joe DiMaggio) always had the gift for gab in his marvellously written stories and columns. He calls it his "light-hearted" approach to the business of putting together an article that would appeal to readers. One admirer of his referred to his "quirky circumspection" of events and his rhapsodies. "I never took it too seriously. It was not about who won the game," Frayne told me. "It’s not all about life and death. It’s sports, for God’s sake. It’s fun and games.

"I took a larger look at the picture. There was not the rush there is now. The problem now is the speed that is required in getting the story to the office. And the editors all want quotes now."

The Olympics, Kentucky Derby, Super Bowl, Wimbledon, 1972 Summit Series, Stanley Cup playoffs, World Series, Grey Cup, you name it, Frayne was there. He spent three decades writing for Maclean’s and he also pounded out stuff for the Globe and Mail and the Sun, retiring in 1993.

"There are three top things that stand out for me," Frayne said. "Two are tied – the 1972 series between Canada and the Soviets and the Kentucky Derby in 1964 when Canada’s Northern Dancer won. Then there was 1941 when I was writing for the Winnipeg Tribune. That year I was in Philadelphia when Ted Williams finished the season with a .406 average and that was the year Joe DiMaggio hit in 56 consecutive games.

"I got my picture taken with DiMaggio at the World Series that year. All the scribes were on the field before the game and I went up to Joe and asked him if I could have my picture taken with him. He said it was allright. It was a great moment for a kid from Brandon, Man."

Frayne cut his career at his hometown Sun paper, watching games at night and then getting up early in the morning, going into the bathroom, sitting on the "throne," writing out stories and then dropping them into the newspaper mailbox on his way to school. So he got his training on the pottie, so to speak. "The editor said he didn’t have time to cover the events but he said that if I wanted to give him stuff, he said he would make sure it got in the paper," Frayne said.

So began an illustrious career by a remarkable writer.

Published in 2002 Inductees