Tag Archives: Jiggs McDonald

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

Bob Hope In Orillia, Jiggs In Hollywood

In September of 1957, Orillia hockey star Rick Ley, who would go on to NHL and WHA stardom, was 9 years old, Orillia folksinger Gordon Lightfoot was 19, Bobby Orr, 60 miles up the road, was 9, and I was a month shy of being 7.

And in September of 1957, Hollywood funnyman Bob Hope, fresh from hanging out with Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour, close friends with a bunch of Presidents, and star of stage and screen, came with his family for a nice visit to Orillia. (The above photo is Hope in Orillia and comes from one of my dad’s photo albums).

I was there, although I don’t remember it. But my dad told me we were all there. He told me about Hope and his wife and kids riding in a parade down the main street. And he told me the Hope clan were guests of my dad’s boss, who happened to own a local factory.

It seems Hope had been invited to Orillia to help celebrate the expansion of Orillia’s radio station, CFOR. I’m thinking he must have been in the area anyway.

It’s also a beautiful thing when I can tie in CFOR to NHL hockey.

CFOR’s sports guy was Ken McDonald, and Ken was a great guy. My sister worked with him when she was a radio copywriter, and he would not only do radio sports, but on the side he would broadcast minor hockey games from the Orillia Community Centre. I can remember my grandma and I huddled by the radio one night in the early sixties when Ken described Archie Rankin scoring the big goal with just seconds left as the Orillia juveniles captured the Ontario championship in dramatic fashion.

In 1966, the Los Angeles Kings were granted a team in the league’s first expansion, and Ken McDonald was offered and accepted the big job of being the Kings’ very first play-by-play guy. I suppose it was owner Jack Kent Cooke who decided the name Ken McDonald just wasn’t fancy enough for the Hollywood market, and from that day forward, Ken McDonald became Jiggs McDonald. Over the years, Jiggs became one of the NHL’s best and longest-lasting broadcasters, with gigs with the Atlanta Flames, New York Islanders, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Florida Panthers. He also had a brief stint doing New York Mets games.

When I ended up in jail for a week in Los Angeles during the summer of 1967 (breaking curfew after Sunset Strip riots), my sister phoned Ken/Jiggs in LA and asked him if he could help. I never learned if he did or not, but after a week behind bars, a plane ticket showed up from my parents, who had absolutely no money, to get me back to Canada, and I was set free.

Maybe Jiggs pulled some strings. If so it’s taken a lot of years, but thanks a lot, Mr. McDonald.

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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Kings Become Kings

The Los Angeles Kings are new Stanley Cup champions with their one-sided 6-1 win over the New Jersey Devils, but it was a side plot that will make for fine conversation all summer.

It was unfortunate the entire episode happened in the first place. One major penalty and the suspense of a big game six was sucked out like air from a balloon.

Things were all even in the first period when the Devils’ Steve Bernier rammed Rob Scuderi into the boards, was given a five-minute boading penalty plus an ejection from the game, and during the five-minute power play, the Kings scored three times and the game was basically over. Just like that. Somehow it doesn’t seem right.

Imagine how lousy Bernier must feel. From the dressing room, he surely must have heard the roar from the Los Angeles crowd when the goals began to go in. The first roar must have sucked. With the second roar, his heart must have dropped down around his ankles. When the third came, I’m sure he felt like puking.

Devils’ fans were probably sick too.

Scuderi was back for the second, but when they showed him on the bench, he looked to be in rough shape. Like I said, the whole thing was very unfortunate.

Good for the Kings in winning it all. They enjoyed a tremendous playoffs, taking out Vancouver in five games, sweeping St. Louis, beating Phoenix in five, and winning in six games in the Final against New Jersey. Just an absolutely solid two months for the Kings, who capture their very first title after 44 years of trying. Fine Orillian and the Kings’ first play-by-play man Jiggs McDonald might be shedding tears of joy right now..

And now it’s over, with all 30 teams starting even again. Montreal’s tied for first.

 

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

Cheering For The Kings I Guess

It’s taken the Los Angeles Kings only nine games to remove the Vancouver Canucks and St. Louis Blues from the playoff picture, and when is it going to get hard for them? If they keep going like this, the major studios will come calling.

I’ve decided that I’m hoping the Kings go all the way. They’re the one NHL city I can almost accept right now, I suppose because they’ve been around since 1967, the first year of expansion, and for me that’s some solid history. Along with Orillian Jiggs McDonald handling the first play-by-play.  (The other new teams were St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Oakland, Philadelphia, and Minnesota).

Heck, I’m just trying to find a team to cheer for. And it wasn’t going to be Philadelphia.

So why not L.A.? And besides, they win by default  because I could care less about the other teams playing and I like going to Los Angeles. It’s that simple. I thought I might be cheering for the Rangers because the Big Apple is so great, but I haven’t seen many Ranger games, and the ones I have seen, I forget.

And of course, L.A. has magnificent palm trees.

The L.A. Kings were born when the Sunset Strip, a few miles west of the Fabulous Forum, was filled with long haired youth toking and provoking and often forgetting underarm deodorant. The Doors and Janis Joplin blew it out at the Whisky A Go Go in West Hollywood, the streets were abuzz, crowds gathered at the Troubadour and Pandora’s Box and at the theatres to see Dustin Hoffman seduced by Ann Bancroft. Things were hopping, and definitely, the players from that first year in LA were in their new city at a very cool time.

Although I suppose being on the hockey team got in the way of a lot of things.

The Los Angeles Dodgers were my favourite baseball team back then, but I see in checking the Dodgers 1967 season that they finished 28 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals, so I guess they sucked at that time. But regardless, palm trees grew behind the outfield walls at Dodger Stadium and the team once boasted the sensational pitching duo of lefty Sandy Koufax and the righthanded Don Drysdale, who were even more important than palm trees.

L.A.s a good place with great weather. It hardly ever rains, unlike where I live. It’s on the ocean, and there’s some nice neighborhoods, and of course some not-so-nice neighborhoods. I’m sure you’ve seen both in the movies. Also, the freeways are ridiculously packed and drivers on regular streets are on their horns to the guy in front of them about a millisecond after the light turns green. I know about this quite a bit.

But aside from that and a few other things, (okay, a lot of things), it’s a lively and interesting place to visit. I think it always has been. Humphrey Bogart liked it.

For me it would be fine to see the Kings go all the way. Why not?

Keep it going, Kings. Go Dodgers. Go Habs, next year!

 

 

 

 

Ladies And Gentlemen, I Give You – Ken/Jiggs

Recently I wrote about Jiggs McDonald, the Orillia radio guy who was hired to be the LA Kings first play-by-play guy, then moved on to the New York Islanders, Atlanta Flames, Florida Panthers, Toronto Maple Leafs, and also enjoyed a brief stint with baseball’s New York Mets. I had mentioned, which you can click on right here and check out, that Jigg’s name was changed from Ken to Jiggs to begin his NHL career in Los Angeles.

Ken/Jiggs also may or may not have helped in getting me out of my week-long stay in an LA jail, which is also described in the link above.

Here’s Ken/Jiggs, when he was just a small town guy doing a big time job for CFOR in Orillia.

And a slightly more recent picture.

Bob Hope In Orillia, Jiggs In Hollywood

In September of 1957, Orillia hockey star Rick Ley, who would go on to NHL and WHA stardom, was 9 years old. Orillia folksinger Gordon Lightfoot was 19. Bobby Orr, 60 miles up the road, was 9. I was a month shy of being 7.

And in September of 1957, Hollywood funnyman Bob Hope, fresh from hanging out with Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour, close friends with a bunch of Presidents, and star of stage and screen, came with his family for a nice visit to Orillia. (The above photo is Hope in Orillia and comes from one of my dad’s photo albums).

I was there, although I don’t remember it. But my dad told me we were all there. He told me about Hope and his wife and kids riding in a parade down the main street. And he told me the Hope clan were guests of my dad’s boss, who happened to own a local factory.

It seems Hope had been invited to Orillia to help celebrate the expansion of Orillia’s radio station, CFOR. I’m thinking he must have been in the area anyway.

It’s also a beautiful thing when I can tie in CFOR to NHL hockey.

CFOR’s sports guy was Ken McDonald, and Ken was a great guy. My sister worked with him when she was a radio copywriter, and he would not only do radio sports, but on the side he would broadcast minor hockey games from the Orillia Community Centre. I can remember my grandma and I huddled by the radio one night in the early sixties when Ken described Archie Rankin scoring the big goal with just seconds left as the Orillia juveniles captured the Ontario championship in dramatic fashion.

In 1966, the Los Angeles Kings were granted a team in the league’s first expansion, and Ken McDonald was offered and accepted the big job of being the Kings’ very first play-by-play guy. I suppose it was owner Jack Kent Cooke who decided the name Ken McDonald just wasn’t fancy enough for the Hollywood market, and from that day forward, Ken McDonald became Jiggs McDonald. Over the years, Jiggs became one of the NHL’s best and longest-lasting broadcasters, with gigs with the Atlanta Flames, New York Islanders, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Florida Panthers. He also had a brief stint doing New York Mets games.

When I ended up in jail for a week in Los Angeles during the summer of 1967 (breaking curfew after Sunset Strip riots), my sister phoned Ken/Jiggs in LA and asked him if he could help. I never learned if he did or not, but after a week behind bars, a plane ticket showed up from my parents, who had absolutely no money, to get me back to Canada, and I was set free. 

Maybe Jiggs pulled some strings. If so, it’s taken 44 years but thanks a lot, Mr. McDonald.