By “we” I mean the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. And 46 years ago, a 13-year-old Hamiltonian boy could say “we” and really mean it. I watched the Cats practice in the pouring rain; I sold programs at Civic (now Ivor Wynne) Stadium just so I could get into the games for free.
And watching that Grey Cup game on television in 1962 with my dad, it was us versus them, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
Older CFL fans know about that famous game, which started on Saturday, Dec. 1 at Exhibition Stadium in Toronto and ended the next day after the fog rolled in off Lake Ontario. The game was halted with nine minutes and 29 seconds to go on that Saturday, with the Bombers leading 28-27. It was the final score.
I’m convinced that the officials missed the Cats’ Don Sutherin’s field goal. It sure looked good to me. But I do admit it was tough to see on that Saturday. The Toronto Star reported after the game that the “Metro air was fouler than ever recorded… sulphur and muck, trapped in a layer of stagnant air show levels 10 times higher than ever.”
About 32,000 fans in the stadium could not follow the play (although Lorne Rubenstein, a Globe and Mail sports reporter, wrote last year that he was at the game with his father and they saw a woman stripping in the crowd).
Here’s why I just might have been wrong about that field goal:
The referee, Paul Dojack: “I made the decision that it couldn’t go on any longer… I was at the far hash marks and couldn’t see the down marker,” Dojack said later, after he halted the game on Saturday.
Winnipeg Tribune columnist Jack Matheson: “You couldn’t see a damn thing, especially from the press box. I don’t know if it was a good game or not, I didn’t see it.”
Jim McKay, host of ABC’s Wide World of Sports, which broadcast the game to Americans for the first time: “I’ve not seen hitting as hard as this in any game. What a pity the fog had to spoil it.”
Rubenstein, in a story in the Globe: “The girls from Bathurst Heights (high school) bumped into each other dancing at half time.”
Garney Henley, Ticats’ Mr. Everything, who ran the football, caught passes, played defence and returned punts: “You could see the bodies coming at you, but only from the waist down.”
Henley scored two touchdowns in the game, but Leo Lewis (how we hated him, he was so good) scored two himself for the Bombers and threw for a touchdown as well.
After CFL commissioner Sydney Halter declared that the rest of the game would be played on Sunday (the Cats wanted it played the following week), only 15,000 fans came back.
Ticat coach Jim Trimble took quarterback Joe Zuger out for those last agonizing nine minutes and replaced him with Frank Consentino (who used to drive us crazy because he ran holding the ball with one hand away from his body). But we could not score.
At the end of the game, Zuger, who also punted for the Cats, tried to kick the ball into the Winnipeg end zone to tie the game, but the punt was short.
One of the people who made it back for the second day was the late, great Jackie (Spaghetti Legs) Parker, the quarterback of the Edmonton Eskimos.
Parker later said, “it was the best ball game I ever saw.”
If he were only here today so I could ask him if he saw that Don Sutherin field goal.