May 20, 2009

The CFL remembers David G. Humphrey Staff

TORONTO — On Sunday, Ontario lost a great lawyer and judge, David G. Humphrey, 83, who died in his sleep. For many, he will be remembered for his outstanding contribution to the legal community, but for others, he will be remembered for his participation in the 1957 Grey Cup game.

Below is an article detailing Mr. Humphrey’s role as “The Tripper” in the 1957 championship game played at Toronto’s Varsity Stadium:


Alan Christie
Special to

A senior Ontario judge and an American Eagle will be forever linked because a brief moment of irrationality in the 1957 Grey Cup game.

Here’s the scene: Varsity Stadium, Toronto, Nov. 30, 1957. Ray “Bibbles” Bawel, a Hamilton Ticat defensive back, has just picked off his second pass of the game and is headed down the sidelines with a clear path to the end zone. David Humprhey, a spectator standing on the sidelines near the Winnipeg Blue Bomber bench, sticks his foot out and trips Bawel, preventing the touchdown, though the Ticats won the game easily, 32-7.

Humphrey was then a Toronto lawyer and became a judge in the Ontario court, general division. He is now retired and the could not reach him for comment.

On that afternoon in 1957, Bawel got up after being tripped, spitting mad, and started looking for the guy who cost him a touchdown. But by then Humphrey had slipped back into the crowd and got out of the stadium without being challenged.  He was later identified by a CFL official.

Many years later, Humprhey explained his brain cramp.  As recounted in Heroes of The Game, a History of the Grey Cup, Humphrey said that while on the sidelines he had encountered a man who had been a jury foreman (how DID these guys get on the sidelines anyway?) in a criminal proceeding in which Humphrey was representing the accused. The accused was convicted and sentenced to death.

Instead of taking out his anger against the foreman, Humphrey instead took it out on Bawel.  A radio broadcast of the incident has the announcer exclaiming: Bawel “is boiling mad and no wonder!”

Years later Bawel received a gold watch in the mail with a note saying “From the Tripper, Grey Cup 1957.”

Bawel, a former Philadelphia Eagle, may have had one touchdown wiped out but he scored another one on a fumble recovery.

In a telephone interview from his home in Jasper, Indiana, Bawel relived the play for   “I had intercepted the ball and was hugging the sideline when this guy tripped me. He was a little bit inebriated, I think. Well, maybe not a little bit.”

Bawel, 77, confirmed that Humphrey sent him a watch engraved “from the tripper.” Bawel only played that one year for the Cats before retiring but said Humphrey always said he would try to get him in the Canadian Football Hall of Fame because no one would remember anything else but that strange play in the Grey Cup game. (Bawel is not in the hall of fame).

But he said things turned out all right anyway. The trip occurred on the Bomber 40 yard line. The referee penalized the Bombers half the distance to the goal line and the Cats scored a touchdown.

And where did he get the “Bibbles” nickname? He got it from a teammate while playing high school basketball in Indiana.

Bawel was just one small cog in a powerhouse Ticat team that year, led by the fearsome coach Jim Trimble.  Under Trimble and general manager Jake Gaudaur, the Cats would go to the Grey Cup in 1957-58-59, 1961 and 1962. But they only won the first one, losing the others to the Blue Bombers and their famous coach Bud Grant, who went on to coach the Minnesota Vikings of the NFL.

Trimble had stars like quarterback Bernie Faloney and Paul Dekker in 1957 but no one as exciting as Chester ‘Cookie’ Gilchrist. Kids on the streets of Hamilton used to sing: “Lookie, lookie, here comes Cookie.” At 250 pounds, he was huge for a running back in the 1950s (he also played defence as did many of the players).

But Gilchrist was back then considered a clown, (he was the Terrell Owens before there was a Terrell Owens). He played for three teams in the NFL and five in Canada.

When he played for the Buffalo Bills, he demanded a chauffeur-driven limousine with a telephone. Instead he got a leased car driven by a rookie who was instructed to answer “Mr. Gilchrist`s car, I’ll see if he is in” when picking up the phone.

As big and tough as he was, Gilchrist was no match for Trimble (who infamously vowed before the 1958 Grey Cup that the Cats would “waffle” the Blue Bombers).

Gaudaur, who became CFL commissioner in 1967, once said he sold Gilchrist to the Saskatchewan Roughriders the day after he challenged Trimble to a fistfight after practice. “I don’t think Cookie realized how kind I was being to him,” Gaudaur said.

The 1957 Grey Cup drew 27,051 fans at Varsity Stadium but it also became the most watched game up until that time because it was the first game to be seen coast-to-coast on television, using the new “microwave system.”

No one knew back then that a microwave could have been used to get Bibbles Bawel steaming again.