Tag Archives: Garney Henley

The Big Sports Dinner

Roger Crozier was there, and so was Andy Bathgate and hurler Sal Maglie and a host of others, including my peewee baseball team that rolled over unsuspecting teams from around Ontario.

It was the 3rd annual Sports Celebrity Dinner in Orillia, from June 1964, organized by local radio personality Ken McDonald, later known as Jiggs McDonald.

Only a few years after this fancy affair, Jiggs would find himself broadcasting NHL games in Los Angeles when the league first expanded, and then in Atlanta and Long Island (along with stints in Toronto and Florida). Jiggs ultimately wound up in the Hall of Fame as a recipient of the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award.

This is my program from that big night at Club Pavalon, a place where, on normal nights, gave us some of the best live rock bands from the province and beyond.

cover

Ken

Crozier

Bathgate

Sal

Former NHLer Cal Gardner is in the Terriers lineup.

Terriers

My peewee team. They spelled my name wrong.

peewees

Basilio

Castator

Henley

Jr. C

Below, Rick Ley, who would go on to NHL and WHA stardom, is in the front row of the midget team.

Ley

lacrosse

The Team

baseball

I was the second baseman and sometimes shortstop, depending on whether Sparky Roe or Lorne Wingrove was pitching, and this little small-town team beat city teams all over central and southern Ontario. We were a force, and after winning a provincial championship, the Orillia fire truck picked us up outside of town and carried us in with siren wailing.

Orillia gave us a parade, with us riding in convertibles, just like a Stanley Cup parade. And we had a meeting with the mayor where she gave us pen sets. There was also a banquet we were invited to, with Andy Bathgate, Roger Crozier, football star Garney Henley, boxer Carmen Basilio. and baseball great Sal Maglie there as speakers. Ken  McDonald, who would someday become NHL play-by-play man Jiggs McDonald, was the master of ceremonies.

Each of us had to get up and thank our coaches and parents, and I got up, froze, and nothing came out, so they let me sit down to the laughter of the room.

My picture was in the paper eating ice cream. And when my dad died recently, the funeral director was John Mundell, the kid on the left in the front row, who was a fine outfielder. And of course he wasn’t a funeral director back then. But his dad was.

I was twelve. It was the summer I smoked my first cigar. And I still had my paper route.

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The Big Dinner

My peewee baseball team (I was a smallish-yet-reliable infielder) was invited to the big Sports Celebrities Dinner in Orillia, a dinner organized by Ken McDonald, who became Jiggs McDonald, the Los Angeles Kings’ very first play-by-play announcer. I was 13.

The lineup of guests was impressive, and I got them all to sign my little book

I Hope I Didn’t Get Any Corn Stuck In My Teeth

0012 When I was twelve our Orillia peewee baseball team beat all comers, from little towns to big cities, and we won the all-Ontario championship. The following year, Orillia put on a Sports Celebrity dinner and our team and some successful minor hockey teams were invited and we accepted trophies and such from the celebrities –  like baseball legend Sal Maglie, hockey star Andy Bathgate, goalie great Roger Crozier, all-star fooball player Garney Henley, and champion boxer Carmen Basilio.

I’m in the bottom row, third from the right in the baseball picture, and Ricky Ley, who eventually played for the Toronto Maple Leafs, New England Whalers, and Team Canada ’74, is in the hockey photo, bottom row, third from left with the “A” on his sweater. The Whalers actually retired Rick Ley’s sweater in Hartford and it’s hanging from the rafters there.

Ken McDonald, who was the local radio guy, was the master of ceremonies, and he eventually changed his name to Jiggs McDonald and became an iconic play-by-play broadcaster for the inaugural Los Angeles Kings, and later the Atlanta Flames.

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