Mondays With Murray: You Want a Good Driver? Check with Roger Penske

Last week it was announced that the George family had sold the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, home of the Indianapolis 500, Brickyard 400 and the Indy Car Grand Prix. The 2.5-mile oval in Speedway, Indiana, that has been in the Hulman-George family since 1945 now is owned by Roger Penske.

In honor of Veteran’s Day (Penske is a big supporter of veterans) and Penske’s purchase of the IMS, we bring you Jim Murray’s column from April 19, 1993.

Enjoy!

——

APRIL 19, 1993, SPORTS

Copyright 1993/THE TIMES MIRROR COMPANY

JIM MURRAY

You Want a Good Driver? Check With Roger Penske

  It used to be said, if you wanted a baseball player, you checked with Branch Rickey. He could spot a 20-game winner from the window of a moving train, so the legend went.

  If you wanted a football player, you went with Knute Rockne. He could get George Gipp out of a pool hall.

  Needing a fighter, you would go to Cus d’Amato and tell him whether you wanted a Patterson or a Mike Tyson.

  A Louis B. Mayer could find star quality in a guy parking cars at the studio lot.

  mondaysmurray2But if you want a race car driver — and ones named Unser or Andretti aren’t available — check with Roger Penske.

  Penske can spot a racing champion driving a cab. Or a truck. Look at the record: He found Mark Donohue, who was a graduate of Brown University, no less, and looked more like a refugee from an Ivy League faculty than a speed merchant. Penske won Indianapolis with him.

  Then, he sort of found Tom Sneva driving a school bus in Spokane, Wash. He was principal of a high school, for cryin’ out loud. Penske won Indianapolis with him.

  He found Rick Mears on a motorcycle in Colorado. Penske won four Indianapolises with him.

  None of those guys really fit the mold of the hard-bitten leadfoots of the roaring road. I mean, they didn’t remind you of A.J. Foyt till they hit Victory Lane. Neither did Danny Sullivan when he won for Roger at Indy. Danny had been a Manhattan playboy.

  So, when Penske signed a young Canadian chauffeur named Paul Tracy to replace the retiring Mears last year, a lot of people might have wondered what he saw in him. Except it would be like asking Rockne what in the world he saw in the Four Horsemen. Or what made Doc Kearns think Dempsey could fight.

  Paul did not fit your basic profile of an Indy prospect. He wore glasses for nearsightedness. He was so pale he could haunt a house. You could see through him. If he chewed gum, you could see it.

  But he had been driving cars since he was 6. His father would drop him off at a Go-Kart track with a box lunch and a can of gasoline and leave him there all day. He spent more time on wheels than entire teamster locals in eastern Canada.

  When he was 15, he was competing in world championship Kart races. As he got older he was around cars so much he almost needed a periodic oil change himself.

  Canadian kids are supposed to head for the ice as soon as they’re old enough to lace on skates. Paul Tracy preferred a garage to a rink, wheels to skates. He wanted to be an Unser, not a Gretzky.

  He won a Can-Am race when he was only 16, the youngest ever. He was winning races before his voice changed. He was driving cars when other kids hadn’t gotten off tricycles. He could drive better than he could walk.

  But there was nothing to suggest this was a future Foyt. Until Penske caught his act.

  Penske didn’t want to sit him on the pole at Indy right away. What he basically wanted, at first, was a kid with patience, common sense and an ability to stand boredom. All of these are in short supply along pit row, where the greatest collection of people in a hurry in the world can be found.

  Penske wanted to put his young discovery through a crucible of testing. This is a long, monotonous grind where you road-test cars, not by the hour but by the day. It’s a lonely boring way to spend a day. Or a week. Even a bus driver’s job is more fun than that of a racer, who has to tool a race car for interminable hours on an oval. He drives 500 miles and doesn’t go anywhere. He never sees another car.

  Tracy did it, day after dull day. And the day came when Penske finally decided he had paid his dues and put him in a race car.

  It’s too early to tell if he’s going to carry the Penske flag into further victories, but he got his first victory in an Indy car race on Sunday in the 19th Long Beach Toyota Grand Prix by more than 12 seconds over a former Indy winner, Bobby Rahal, and the current world Formula One champion driver, Nigel Mansell.

  Tracy was like a guy let out of the laboratory. He had company on the track. He even scrubbed wheels with Danny Sullivan. He had the thrill of several flat tires in traffic, and went through the crowded streets of Long Beach, instead of the wimpy surfaces of a test track.

  If you’ve ever looked at the family sedan gas gauge as it wavered perilously close to “E” and sucked it up and hoped it wouldn’t go on fumes as you were going through a rough stretch of road or neighborhood, you can sympathize with Driver Tracy.

  He had been exchanging leadership in the race with the great Mansell until he hit Lap 60 and pitted, surrendering the lead to the Briton. Tracy refuelled. He tailed the Mansell car until it needed to pit on Lap 73.

  Tracy had enough fuel for about 40 laps. He had 45 left in the 105-lap race. He put Mansell behind him and got ready.

  In that situation, you wait for the dreaded cough and sputter in the engine and the sudden loss of power and movement. It never came. Paul Tracy spun under his first Indy-car checkered flag.

  In a race that had Unsers and Andrettis and Formula One champions and six former Indy 500 winners, it came as a great surprise to a lot of people.

  But not to Roger Penske. He can pick a race driver out of a crowd shot at the Vatican at Easter. Winning with Paul Tracy is easy. He probably could have done it with Spencer.

——

Reprinted with the permission of the Los Angeles Times

Jim Murray Memorial Foundation, P.O. Box 60753, Pasadena, CA 91116

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What is the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation? 

  The Jim Murray Memorial Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, established in 1999 to perpetuate the Jim Murray legacy, and his love for and dedication to his extraordinary career in journalism. Since 1999, JMMF has granted 104 $5,000 scholarships to outstanding journalism students. Success of the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation’s efforts depends heavily on the contributions from generous individuals, organizations, corporations, and volunteers who align themselves with the mission and values of the JMMF.

Like us on Facebook, and visit the JMMF website, www.jimmurrayfoundation.org.

——

A dozen years ago, Linda McCoy-Murray compiled a book of Jim Murray’s columns on female athletes (1961-1998). While the book is idle waiting for an interested publisher, the JMMF thinks this is an appropriate year to get the book on the shelves, i.e., Jim Murray’s 100th birthday, 1919-2019.  

Our mission is to empower women of all ages to succeed and prosper — in and out of sports — while entertaining the reader with Jim Murray’s wit and hyperbole.  An excellent teaching tool for Women’s Studies.

Proceeds from book sales will benefit the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization providing sports journalism scholarships at universities across the country.

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Scattershooting on a Sunday night while wondering if Monday will be a good day to rake . . .

Scattershooting

I haven’t watched Coach’s Corner in a long time. I stopped when the show became more of a noisy rant-and-rave affair than one that provided some insight into the NHL or even hockey in general.

But it is hard to ignore what happened on Saturday night, what with social media losing its mind over it for a lot of Sunday.

The surprising thing to me — although perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised considering the times in which we live — is the number of people who maintain there was nothing wrong with what went on with Don Cherry and his acquiescent sidekick, Ron MacLean.

After all, MacLean has apologized, writing in a tweet that what Cherry said was “hurtful and prejudiced . . .”

Also, the brass at Rogers Sportsnet has apologized, using “discriminatory,” “offensive” and “divisive” to describe the commentary.

As well, Hockey Canada condemned what was said: “The hockey community does not stand for the comments made (Saturday) night. Hockey is Canada’s game because it brings our country together, be it around the television or in local arenas. Belonging and inclusivity are an integral part of our game.”

And the NHL also issued a statement of condemnation: “Hockey is at its best when it brings people together. The comments made (Saturday) night were offensive and contrary to the values we believe in.”

Let’s agree, then, that what was said was all of those things.

Let’s also agree that this is a case of someone staying — or being allowed to stay — too long at the dance.

If you want more on Cherry, check out this column right here from Bruce Arthur of the Toronto Star.

Or try this one right here by Stu Cowan of the Montreal Gazette.


Whether it’s the economy, the influence of TV and/or Netflix and the PVR, or whatever, there are a lot of sports teams out there that aren’t attracting as many fans as they once did and nowhere near as many as they would like to have in their home buildings.

One thing that often is cited as a reason for staying home is the prices at the concession stands. That being the case, perhaps it’s time more teams and facility operators took a look at happenings in Atlanta.

Prior to the 2017 NFL season, the concession prices at Mercedes-Benz Stadium (MBS), the home of the Atlanta Falcons, were slashed by 50 per cent. The result was a 16 per cent increase in average spending per fan over the 2016 season.

On top of that, according to a news release, the concessions also received “an NFL voice of the fan rating of No. 1 across all food and beverage categories.”

In 2018, the fans “spent on average the same amount as they did in 2017 and fans again rated the Falcons No. 1 in all food and beverage categories for the second consecutive year . . .”

In March, prior to the start of Major League Soccer’s 2019 season for Atlanta United, MBS cut the prices of five “top items” by 50 cents each:

Hot Dog: $1.50 (was $2)

Pretzel Bites: $4.50 (was $5)

ATL Bud Burger: $7.50 (was $8)

Ice Cream Waffle Cone: $4.50 (was $5)

Chips and Salsa: $2.50 (was $3)

Falconsmenu
A menu from one of the concessions at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

Jacob Bogage of The Washington Post has more on the Atlanta situation right here.

Wouldn’t it be interesting to see what would happen if just one NHL team, or even one WHL team, cut ticket prices in conjunction with a trimming of concession prices?


The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, a casino, “is suing San Jose Sharks forward Evander Kane, claiming he failed to pay back $500,000 in gambling markers from April,” writes Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “Possible penalties range from a huge fine and restitution to two minutes for charging.”



Bob Calvert never played for the Moose Jaw Warriors, but there was a time when he was on the WHL team’s board of directors. His son, Jeff, was a goaltender of note with the Warriors (1989-91) and Tacoma Rockets (1991-94). On Friday night, Jeff’s son, Atley, made his WHL debut against the visiting Winnipeg Ice. . . . In other words, Friday was a big night for the Calvert family.


ANOTHER PET PEEVE: The Regina Pats were to have played the visiting Swift Current Broncos at the Brandt Centre on Friday night. However, a problem with the ice resulted in . . . Well, the Pats and Broncos, along with a few others, including some purporting to be members of the media, announced that the game had been cancelled. Actually, it had been postponed and will be rescheduled. . . . Please, people, there is a difference between cancelled and postponed.



Kevin Shaw is an avid follower of the Regina Pats, who has taken to tweeting stories from the team’s past. This included the story in the below tweet that involves the long-gone Spokane Flyers losing 9-4 to the host Pats on Nov. 8, 1981. One night earlier, the Flyers had been beaten 11-3 by the visiting Victoria Cougars. . . . Yes, Spokane played one night at home and 24 hours later in Regina. Oh, and the Flyers bus driver took a wrong turn somewhere that extended the trek to Regina by a couple of hours. . . . BTW, one night before losing to Victoria, the Flyers were to have played in Kamloops. However, that game wasn’t played because, as Dave Senick of the Regina Leader-Post wrote: “Their bus was about to be repossessed and there was no money for gasoline or meals. And, the team’s payroll has not been met for two weeks.” . . . Ahh, those were the days.




JUST NOTES: Watching the Vancouver Canucks and host Winnipeg Jets on Friday night. The visitors lose D Chris Tanev and D Tyler Myers on back-to-back shifts in the second period. What happened? Both players limped off after blocking shots (luckily for the Canucks, both soon were back in action). I have never understood the emphasis on blocking shots that goaltenders are equipped, trained and paid to stop. . . . The Winnipeg Blue Bombers at the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the CFL’s West Division final. Yeah, I’ll take that for a Sunday afternoon’s entertainment. But will it be cold and snowy? . . . Did the Edmonton Eskimos save head coach Jason Maas’s job with their victory over the Alouettes in Montreal on Sunday. . . . The NFL and video review aren’t a match made in heaven. . . . As a sporting spectacle is there anything better than a big-time NCAA football matchup like Saturday’s game featuring LSU and Alabama?

The story of Hick Abbott, a real Canadian hero

HickAbbottRugby
Edward Lyman (Hick) Abbott, fourth from right, was a star athlete whether it was with the Allan Cup-winning Regina Victories or the Regina Rugby Club. (Photo: Terry Massey, from Regina Rugby Club)

In more than 40 years as a journalist what follows may well be my favourite story. I loved researching it and I really enjoyed writing it. I post the story of Lyman (Hick) Abbott, a superb athlete, a sportsman and a hero, in time for every Remembrance Day.

I present this version of it in memory of J. Lyman Potts, who was named after Abbott and who would have turned 103 on Nov. 11. Potts, who died on Dec. 9, was a legend in the Canadian broadcasting and music industries.

It was Potts who took action when he realized in the mid-1990s that the Abbott Cup — originally funded by Potts’ father and named after Abbott — no longer was being given the respect it deserved. He wrote to old friend Tom Melville, a former Regina Leader-Post sports editor, and the two of them mounted a lengthy campaign that resulted in the Abbott Cup being retired to the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.

Here, then, is the story of Lyman (Hick) Abbott . . .

—— 

Edward Lyman Abbott was, they all agreed, one of a kind.

He was a superb athlete and, just as important, he was a true sportsman. Everyone in southern Saskatchewan knew Abbott as Hick, which was shortened from Hickory, and he was loved by young and old alike.

HickAbbott
LYMAN (HICK) ABBOTT

In the early part of the 20th century, Hick Abbott was the best athlete in Regina and maybe all of Western Canada. To this day, it may be Abbott who is the best athlete Regina has seen.

According to the Regina Leader:

“Previous to going to the war Abbott was one of the greatest hockey players that this Dominion every saw. He also was a stellar lacrosse, rugby and soccer player. He piloted Regina to a western championship in rugby in 1915 and what he did to bring the Allan Cup to Regina any of the old-time fans know.”

As we pause at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, his story is but one of many worth remembering. This, then, is that story. Or, at least part of it.

————

The gentlemen of Regina’s sporting scene would gather at Joe Potts’ Rose Athletic Parlours on the east side of the 1700 block Rose Street. They would go there for a shave, maybe a trim and, most definitely, to talk about how their sporting world turned.

The Rose Athletic Parlours — the name was in honour of a Potts penpal, Philadelphia Athletics manager Connie Mack — was a seven-chair operation, with each barber having his own washbasin and mirror. There were two other huge mirrors — floor to ceiling — and a circular leather seat that surrounded a pole on which was beautiful leather backing. A long glass counter was home to a gold-coloured cash register and boxes of chocolate bars. Mahogany-veered cabinets behind the counter were full of tobacco products.

JoePotts
JOE POTTS

And there were photographs — they didn’t call them pictures then — everywhere. Photographs of prominent athletes. Many of them autographed.

The billiard room was separate and featured Boston tables, although there was one billiard table. Each table had its own mahogany cabinet in which players hung their hats and coats.

This is where doctors, dentists, lawyers and businessmen came. This is where they talked about the exploits of their favourite son.

Hick Abbott was of fair complexion. He had gray eyes that, in a blink, would steal a young girl’s heart. And that hair. Oh, that light brown hair that always had that naturally tousled look. Born in Orillia, Ont., in the Hovering parish, on May 1, 1891, Abbott, who was of the Methodist faith, moved to Regina for some reason long since lost. His father, James Henry Abbott, lived his last days in Toronto. In a file folder full of documents, notes, papers and photographs, there isn’t a mention of a mother. Perhaps Hick Abbott’s mother died and he moved to Regina to live with his sister, Robena Myrtle, who was a provincial government employee. A brother, Samuel Percival Abbott, lived near White Bear, Sask.

Hick Abbott played football (rugby football, it was frequently called then), hockey, baseball, lacrosse, soccer, basketball. He excelled at them all. He played in high school. He played for club teams. He played on playgrounds or in a gymnasium. It didn’t matter. He just wanted to play. He had to play.

But hockey was his game. He was a right winger who played for as many teams as he could.

He played for the Regina Bees Capital Hockey Club, which won the Valkenburg Cup as the province’s 1911-12 amateur champions.

But how was he to know that the highlight of his athletic career would come in the spring of 1914 when he helped the Regina Victorias to the 1914 Allan Cup title? The team photo refers to the Vics as World’s Amateur Champions 1914. There’s Abbott — bottom row, third from the right, next to Joe Potts, the Vics’ manager. The newspaper refers to Abbott as “the speedy and consistent right wing who is the sharpshooter of the team.”

But there was trouble in Europe where, before long, the First World War would be raging. Soon, newspapers were full of casualty reports. Regina’s sons were dying over there.

Naturally, Abbott heard the call, as did many of his teammates from that 1913-14 team, including goaltender Fred McCulloch, defencemen Charlie Otton and Austin Creswell, who was the team captain, and rover Freddy Wilson.

Abbott took officer training in Winnipeg, qualifying for the rank of lieutenant. He returned to Regina and enlisted with the 68th Battalion.

On the day Abbott enlisted — Sept. 23, 1915 — he was a 24-year-old student at law who lived in Regina at 2254 Rose St.

Seven months later, on April 28, he was on the S.S. Olympic as it sailed from Halifax. Abbott headed overseas as a platoon commander and officer in charge of records.

Abbott was a true warrior. Whether it was on the field of play or on the field of war, there wasn’t any quit in this man.

Upon his arrival in England, he quickly transferred to the 52nd Canadian Infantry Battalion, a trench unit. In the ensuing 26 months, shrapnel was the only thing that kept him from the front.

He was first injured on Oct. 7, 1916, while in action near Courcelette, about 30 miles northeast of Amiens, in what came to be known as the Battles of the Somme.

Four days later, Abbott was admitted to No. 14 General Hospital at Boulogne with a wound to his left shoulder. Two days later, he was in England, safely ensconced in a war hospital in Reading, a few miles west of London.

A doctor noted a “shrapnel bullet localized near wound.” That shrapnel was removed on Oct. 24; he was discharged from hospital on Nov. 13.

Abbott rushed back to the front and stayed until June 3, 1917, when he was granted 10 days leave, which he spent in Paris.

On July 26, 1917, following the Battle of Vimy Ridge, Abbott was awarded the Military Cross “for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He handled his men in the most able manner, and successfully led them through an intense hostile barrage. He set a fine example of courage and initiative.”

Three months later, on Oct. 27, he was awarded a Bar to his Military Cross.

The Bar, according to a letter Potts received from Abbott in early November, was “just for a little trench raiding affair.”

Abbott also mentioned that he now was wearing “a pair of plate glass spectacles on account of recent injuries to my eyes.”

The glasses were the result of his being wounded for a second time. He took a bullet — or a piece of shrapnel — in the right temple on Sept. 4, 1917, while raiding enemy trenches near Leuze, just over the border from France in the southwest part of Belgium.

A medical report indicates this was a “Severe G.S.W. (gunshot wound) near right eye.” Before he reached the hospital in Boulogne, the shrapnel//bullet was “removed with giant and small magnet.”

The Sept. 11 edition of The Leader reported, under the headline Popular Regina Young Man Is Among Wounded:

“As the casualty lists come in, more and more Regina soldiers are listed either as killed, wounded or gassed. In the list of yesterday appears the name of one of the best known and popular young men of the city, Lieut. Edward Lyman Abbott, as being wounded. This is the second time within 10 months that ‘Hick’ . . . has suffered injuries on the battlefield.”

The story continued:

“. . . he has written to friends in the city and appeared to be carrying on without much worry. Abbott was one of the finest athletes and best sportsmen in the city, standing at the head in every branch of sport he entered. He was particularly noted for his prowess at hockey, and football, two games in which he had no superior in the west.”

By Sept. 15, he had been “invalided, wounded and detached” to the Manitoba Regimental Depot and was being cared for in the 3rd London General Hospital in Wandsworth.

A doctor’s report noted: “Recommended for convalesence . . . to report back in three weeks.” Abbott was discharged on Sept. 24, 1917, and spent the next month at St. Mark’s College, leaving there on Oct. 25, 1917.

The next entry in his medical record is dated Sept. 14, 1918. It is short and to the point: K. in A.

Killed in Action.

It was, in the words of General Erich Ludendorff, the “black day of the German army.”

It was Aug. 8, 1918. It was the day on which the Battle of Amiens began. It was the battle in which Hick Abbott died.

After recovering from his head wound, Abbott returned to France on Dec. 24, 1917. A week later, he was back with his unit.

With Capt. G.M. Thomson heading for England, application was made for Abbott to be an acting captain with the 52nd Battalion. That was approved on March 16, 1918.

Abbott, then, was a captain when the Battle of Amiens, one of the war’s most decisive battles, began. The German’s spring offensive had been stopped only eight miles from Amiens. Now it was time to push them back. Later, after the Armistice had been signed on Nov. 11, 1918, it was generally acknowledged that this was where the tide had turned. In two weeks, 46 German divisions were defeated — 34,250 prisoners and 270 heavy guns were captured.

“It was,” said Ludenhoff, “the black day of the German army in the war . . . To continue would be a gamble. The war would have to be ended.”

On Aug. 14, with the battle almost won, Abbott — always the leader — was first out of a trench as he led a charge towards the enemy.

According to Earl Longworthy, an acquaintance of Abbott’s, he was killed by a sniper’s bullet to the head.

Longworthy was with Abbott’s battalion the day after his death and reported the platoon “worshipped the ground Abbott walked on and were in sorrowful spirits because of his death.”

A testimonial, author unknown, reads in part:

“Abbott was the type of Canadian, and the type of Britisher, that the Germans cannot understand; the type that fights with a silent fury and yet that does not hate; too much of a sportsman to fight unfairly, but more dangerous in attack than their finest products of hate-inspiration because of utter recklessness combined with a deadly skill and total inability to recognize defeat.”

By the time of his death on Aug. 14, 1918, Abbott’s father also was dead. Hick’s medals went to his sister, Robena, who was living in Regina at 2072 Angus St. A plaque and scroll went to his brother, Samuel, at White Bear.

Abbott’s will, dated July 1, 1916, indicated that there may have been another woman — besides his sister — in his life.

His will appointed his sister and R.D. MacMurchy, a Regina barrister, as executors. It read in part:

“I give and bequeath unto my sister Robena Myrtle Abbott all property, real and personal in my possession or due me at the time of my decease and in the advent of her prior decease all said property, real and personal to Miss Edith May Longworthy, 2035 Hamilton St., Regina, Canada.”

Word of Abbott’s death was reported in The Leader of Aug. 22, 1918:

“The death of the popular young Regina officer came as a great shock to his many friends in the city and to the hundreds who knew him through the province particularly as one of the finest athletes who ever appeared before the public in the province.”

Joe Potts was devastated by the news and wrote an appreciation that appeared in The Leader:

“The world of sport of Regina, and for that matter the entire province of Saskatchewan, is the poorer today by the loss of Hick Abbott.

“As long as Regina is, the name of Abbott will live. To the present generation his name stands supreme as a monument to the best that was in sport. To the future generation he has left an ideal for them to attain.

“The citizens of Saskatchewan have lost one of nature’s gentlemen, one who held dear the traditions of his land and one who ever had at heart one thing — the interest of his fellows.

“A hero among his fellows he was equally loved by the boys. No business was ever too pressing to prevent him claiming their comradeship. To the younger lads of Regina his life and glorious death will be an inspiration.

“In expressing these thoughts I am but giving voice to those of everyone in the city who knew him. As one who knew him intimately from the time he grew out of boyhood the loss is personally great.”

Potts had named his first-born son after Abbott — J. Lyman Potts was born on Nov. 11, 1916 — and would make certain that Hick wouldn’t be forgotten.

Abbott_cup
ABBOTT CUP

Late in 1918, Joe Potts started a fund-raising drive, the result of which would be the Abbott Memorial Cup, which for years would go annually to the champion of western Canadian junior hockey.

When the subscription drive started, the first name on the list was Lyman Potts ($10). The second name was that of Lieut. Austin Creswell, the captain of the 1914 Victorias.

E.A. Jolly, a prominent Regina druggist, sent in $5, along with a note:

“Captain Abbott was one of the highest types of Canadian citizens and his record on the ice and subsequently on the battlefield proved him a man of whom all of us should be proud. I remember the great games with Melville when Abbott worked so valiantly and well for victory, and I also remember what a great power Abbott was to the Victoria team when they won the Allan Cup on that great night in Winnipeg nearly five years ago.”

Dick Irvin, who would later prove to be one of the NHL’s great coaches, wrote from Belgium where he was a private “doing despatch work on a motorcycle . . . and seeing the sights of France and Belgium over the handle bars.”

Irvin was a 21-year-old centre on the Winnipeg Monarchs team that lost the 1914 Allan Cup final to the Vics.

“I am interested in what you say about the proposed Abbott Cup and you can put (me) down for a five spot,” Irvin wrote. “I think the idea splendid for junior hockey in the west and, as far as the memorial is concerned, you couldn’t have picked on a better name as Abbott was a . . . man all through.”

Hector Lang, the principal of Regina’s Central Collegiate during Abbott’s high school years who later moved to Medicine Hat and would be the Alberta trustee for the Abbott Cup, wrote that Abbott “at his studies, in his games, and on the field of battle, displayed always in the highest degree the character of the true sportsman. I remember, too, the other boys who studied and played with him — all good boys and true sports, and all of them better because of the influence of the big-hearted and fair-minded Hick Abbott.”

Sid Smith wrote from Gull Lake, Sask., expressing the hope that “this trophy will not be handled in such a way that it will fall into disregard, be forgotten as is often the case with such.”

Almost 80 years later, the Abbott Memorial Cup no longer could be considered a prominent trophy. Where it once went to the winner of a best-of-seven series, in its last years it was presented to the winner of one round-robin game between two western representatives during what was then the Royal Bank Cup — aka the national junior A championship.

“I know absolutely nothing about the Abbott Cup,” admitted one member of the Melfort Mustangs, Abbott Cup winners for 1996.

“It’s just an appetizer (for the Royal Bank Cup),” added another player.

It seems, alas, that Sid Smith’s worst fears were recognized.

——

Hick Abbott, who left Regina to fight for his country’s freedom, never returned to his adopted home town.

He is buried in Roye New British Cemetery, a few miles north of Paris.

Plot 1, Row B, Grave 13.

——

Hick Abbott was inducted into the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame in 2014.

The latest on Ferris’s situation. . . . Alberta headed to ‘opt out’ donor system

Ferris Backmeyer is a young Kamloops girl in need of a kidney transplant. I wrote about her right here on Oct. 7. . . . It is great to see at least one other outlet pick up on the story. If you click on the link right here you will find a story on Ferris that was written by Karen Edwards of infonews.ca.








A note for transplant recipients as BC Transplant changes brand on immunosuppressive drug

If you have been the recipient of an organ transplant, you need to be aware that BC Transplant, as in the tweet below, “is changing brands of immediate release tacrolimus from Prograf to Sandoz . . .” Tacrolimus is an immunosuppressive drug that works to keep the body from rejecting the new organ that really is from a foreign body. . . . For more information on the change and information sessions that have been scheduled, check the link that is available through this tweet.




Mondays With Murray: Zeke From Cabin Creek

Our 2019 Great Ones Award honoree, Jerry West, had some very kind words to say about Jim and the JMMF. He also expressed that he had one particular Jim Murray column that was his favorite. We call it Zeke From Cabin Creek and it is this week’s MWM classic.

Enjoy!

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FEBRUARY 2, 1962, SPORTS

Copyright 1962/THE TIMES MIRROR COMPANY

JIM MURRAY

Zeke From Cabin Creek

  MORGANTOWN, W.VA. — The state of West Virginia is America’s poorhouse, an area of such permanent arrested economic development that its only out is to declare war on the United States and try to lose.

  Even the Confederacy didn’t want it. Its oil fields were so shallow, they played out as soon as the first Texan stopped for gas. There are sections of the state where they don’t stare if you’ve got shoes — but they do if you’ve got laces in them.

  The other night, as the Lakers rolled in over ice-slick cobblestone streets, Rudy La Russo mondaysmurray2looked at the weathered brick buildings and shuddered. “I got to pick my wife up something from Morgantown,” he leered. “Why not Morgantown?” someone cracked.

  The people look like they’re on their way to a hard times party and maybe they are. The last time fresh money came in, a couple of guys were trying to buy a pass to the White House with it.

  He could be the best backcourt player in basketball history, but he looks as if he had just shinnied down a rope from the Mayo Clinic. He’s so thin you could mail him. If he didn’t enter with the rest of the basketball team, they’d make him sit in the children’s section.

  He’s had so many head colds he should play in a scarf and mustard plaster. His nose has been broken so many times he gets air by a detour. You can follow him home every night by a trail of Kleenexes. He sneezes more often than a TV cold tablet commercial. When the familiar question “which one’s West?” was asked at the game the other night, the laconic answer was “wait till the third period. He’ll be the one who looks like he died five minutes ago.”

   In a league largely populated by pachyderms, Jerry West frequently seems to disappear in mid floor like a small boy swallowed up in a forest. But when he comes out again, he usually has the ball — and often the basket.

  He has been injured so many times and gotten off the bench to play so well, the coach is afraid of the day he shows up healthy. “The night he comes on in crutches, the scoring record will disappear,” is his prediction.

  At the end of a season, Jerry is so under-weight he would have to carry lead to ride in the Kentucky Derby. But the other teams would just as soon see a live vampire in the rafters as see Jerry West go up for a jump shot.

  The jump shot itself is a relatively new technique in the still-infant sport of basketball but, as practised by West, it may be generations before it can be made any more perfect. West doesn’t simply soar with the ball — he seems to hang there like a kid who has leaped to a fence, chinned himself and hung over for a long look. It is the nearest thing to a defiance of the law of gravity in sports.

  In the rib-cracking game pro basketball has become, West cannot hope to crash through like an Elgin Baylor or Tom Heinsohn or other resident bull elephants. He zig-zags his way to the basket like a mosquito. It still counts two points. One night this year, they added up to 63, No other backcourt man ever racked up that many before and the chances are good only one will ever do it again — Jerry West.

  Around the league, basketball buffs are stunned at the improvement in West’s play. “He’s gorgeous,” Nick Kerbawy, ex-general manager of the Pistons, exclaimed spontaneously as West single-handedly tied the score against Detroit with 10 seconds to play and then ran away from them in overtime.

  In the West Virginia University field house the other night, where they consider Jerry West should have his own star in The Flag, the ancient field house almost tottered on its supports. He came off the bench, limping with a charley-horse on which half his weight in bandages had been wrapped, dumped in 46 points, brought the team from a 10-point deficit to a regulation tie and then ran Oscar Robertson ragged in the overtime to all but cinch a Laker conference championship.

  The adulation afterward embarrassed him to the point of donning a beard and dark glasses. Hot Rod Hundley, who would head for the Ed Sullivan Show on the next bus if he hit 46, took West with him to a university practice that afternoon. West hid in the shadows. “I don’t want the guys to think I’m trying to hog the spotlight,” he complained.

  In Morgantown where West, Hundley and other natural resources used to board with a lively, bouncy lady pharmacist, Mrs. Ann Dinardi, it was as if a small son had been found after all night in the swamp.

  Even the team instinctively protects its baby-faced assassin. “Zeke,” they call him, because the southern accent that comes out of his deviated septum and mouth from which teeth have been knocked in the backboard rumbles, sounds like something that would come from an Al Capp character with a pointed black hat and beard, squirrel rifle in hand and jug at his bare feet. “That ain’t Dixie, baby,” coos Hot Rod Hundley. “That’s hill-billy. Anybody in the league can understand old Zeke gets two free throws and the game ball.”

  In West Virginia, they understand Jerry West — and what he means to the game. They may not have seen many $20 bills, but they’ve seen basketball players. And Jerry West may be basketball’s basket-case in other parts of the country, but he’s basketball’s best down here. “Man and boy, I’ve seen ’em all,” boasted a state trooper as the crowd filed out still cheering the other night. “And l’il ole Jerry West’s the best there’s ever been. You watch what I say.”

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Reprinted with the permission of the Los Angeles Times

Jim Murray Memorial Foundation, P.O. Box 60753, Pasadena, CA 91116

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What is the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation? 

  The Jim Murray Memorial Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, established in 1999 to perpetuate the Jim Murray legacy, and his love for and dedication to his extraordinary career in journalism. Since 1999, JMMF has granted 104 $5,000 scholarships to outstanding journalism students. Success of the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation’s efforts depends heavily on the contributions from generous individuals, organizations, corporations, and volunteers who align themselves with the mission and values of the JMMF.

Like us on Facebook, and visit the JMMF website, www.jimmurrayfoundation.org.

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A dozen years ago, Linda McCoy-Murray compiled a book of Jim Murray’s columns on female athletes (1961-1998). While the book is idle waiting for an interested publisher, the JMMF thinks this is an appropriate year to get the book on the shelves, i.e., Jim Murray’s 100th birthday, 1919-2019.  

Our mission is to empower women of all ages to succeed and prosper — in and out of sports — while entertaining the reader with Jim Murray’s wit and hyperbole.  An excellent teaching tool for Women’s Studies.

Proceeds from book sales will benefit the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization providing sports journalism scholarships at universities across the country.

Scattershooting on a Saturday while pulling for Cypress Roed and her new kidney . . .

A couple of weeks ago, I spent some time in this space writing about Cypress Roed, an eight-year-old from Harrison Hot Springs, B.C., who, at that time, was preparing for a kidney transplant.

Cypress had the transplant on schedule, on Oct. 24, and now is recovering at B.C. Children’s Hospital in Vancouver.

Her mother, Chantelle Deley, told me on Saturday that Cypress “is doing well.”

There have been a couple of early issues but nothing that the medical people haven’t been able to handle.

If you missed the earlier story on Cypress, it’s right here.


The Portland Winterhawks and their fans celebrated the career and retirement of Dean (Scooter) Vrooman as they beat the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds, 2-1, on Saturday night. . . . He was the voice, and the face, of the Winterhawks for a whole lot of years. . . . Allow me to offer my congratulations to an old friend, and here’s hoping retirement is as kind to you as it has been to me. . . . Paul Danzer of the Portland Tribune has more right here, including the hilarious story on how Vrooman got his nickname.


“’Tis obviously better to be a tortoise than a hare,” writes Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “The Washington Nationals started the season 19-31 and wound up winning the World Series. The St. Louis Blues sat in last place on Dec. 31 and wound up winning the Stanley Cup. In short, the Seattle Mariners — who opened 13-2 and wound up 68-94 — are going about this thing totally backward.”

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One more from Perry: “Somebody just carried out the best fake play of the football season. A red-faced ESPN Events ‘terminated’ its three-week-old agreement with DreamHouse to be the New Mexico Bowl’s presenting sponsor after realizing the purported film-production company doesn’t even exist.”


The other night, I spent 90 minutes watching the documentary Searching for Sugar Man. I have seen it numerous times but it continues to amaze me. If you aren’t familiar with the story of Detroit musician Sixto Rodriguez and his influence on the people of South African, check it out. You can thank me later.


Sheesh, TSN, all I want as a viewer is some respect. With the Washington Nationals on a magical run, you let us watch PTI until the day after the World Series ended. Then you cheated us out of watching Tony Kornheiser celebrate. How could you? . . . You bumped PTI for ATP Tennis, but couldn’t find room for it on one of your other four channels. Please, just a little respect and some continuity in your programming. Is that too much to ask? . . . On second thought, don’t worry about it. I have discovered PTI on YouTube, so I won’t need to check your multi-channel setup anymore.


ICYMI, the BCFC’s Langley Rams will be the host team when they meet the PFC’s Saskatoon’s Hilltops for the Canadian junior football title on Nov. 16. The Rams took out the Westshore Rebels, 35-12, in one national semifinal on Saturday. Later in the day, the Hilltops dumped the host London Beefeaters, 51-1. . . . The Hilltops will be looking for their sixth straight national championship. Yes, they qualify as a dynasty. . . . One year ago, in Saskatoon, the Hilltops whipped the Rams, 58-21, in the final. The Hilltops also beat the Rams in the 2012 and 2014 finals.


Popcorn


“The Christmas turkey will be served early this year,” writes Janice Hough of LeftCoastSportsBabe.com, noting that the Miami Dolphins (0-7) and Cincinnati Bengals (0-8) are to play on Dec. 22.


The Winnipeg Jets recalled F C.J. Suess from the AHL’s Manitoba Moose on Friday. His nickname had better be Cat or Horton or even Doctor. But, this being hockey, I am betting it’s something like Suessy. . . . Actually, his surname is pronounced CEASE. . . . Interestingly, he was C.J. Franklin — yes, teammates called him Frank — when he began his college career with the Minnesota State Mavericks. He has since changed it to Suess, his mother’s maiden name. . . . In a story posted in January, Jamie Thomas of WinnipegJets.com reported that new nicknames in circulation were Seeser, C-Joe and Sweets.



So . . . it was Leon Draisaitl, Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers against Sidney Crosby and the Penguins in Pittsburgh on Saturday. The Oilers are said to have won, 2-1 in OT. . . . If you’re a hockey fan, you know that is as good a matchup as you will see all season long — or until these teams meet again. . . . So, NHL, why would you schedule this game for a Saturday afternoon? That is a prime-time game if ever there was one. . . . BTW, the next time these teams are to meet will be on Dec. 20 in Edmonton. Yes, it will be a night game.


Hey, Andy Murray and Glen Williamson . . . your buddy has come a long, long way from Souris and the Chocolate Shop. . . . Don’t believe me? Check out the link in the tweet. . . . Yes, the big, big pizza chains will be calling soon.



A tip to junior hockey players being interviewed before or after games — if you must wear a cap, wear it with the bill to the front. Not only does it look more professional, but it also shows off your team’s logo.



JUST NOTES: Had a friend who had just seen some video from a Winnipeg Ice home game in which fans seemed to be in scarce supply suggest that the WHL should move the team to Chilliwack. . . . Another WHL fan emailed me this: “I just watched the highlights of the Lethbridge-Winnipeg game on the WHL site. Couldn’t see too much of the seats with the camera angles they had, but I bet MJHL teams get better crowds than that. Instead of putting a team in a city that already has NHL, AHL, and MJHL plus Junior B teams, the WHL should have put the team in a place where it was the biggest attraction in town.  A place like . . . Cranbrook!” . . . On the subject of the Ice, does anyone know how the new arena in which the team will play is coming along? . . . Hey, Sportsnet, those virtual ads that you put on the glass during hockey games are absolutely awful. You’re welcome. . . . The New York Yankees chose not to re-sign Edwin Encarnacion and his parrot, so do the Toronto Blue Jays bring him back? . . . Do you ever wonder what Brian Burke’s hair looks like when he first wakes up in the morning?


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