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Hi again, folks. The CFL Beat is back this week with a look at the CFL’s 1962 championship game – the first Grey Cup game to ever be broadcast on American TV, hereafter referred to as “The Fog Bowl!”
Date: December 1st and 2nd, 1962
Venue: Exhibition Stadium, Toronto, ON
Winnipeg Blue Bombers fast facts:
- Season record: 11-5 (1st in West)
- Head Coach: Bud Grant
- Quarterback: Kenny Ploen & Hal Ledyard
The Blue Bombers and Ti-Cats were major rivals in the late ’50s and early ’60s; as I mentioned back in the post from a couple of weeks ago, these two teams faced off in the Grey Cup game numerous times in the early days of a single, nationwide, professional football league in Canada. Previously, in 1961, the Bombers had bested Hamilton 21-14 for the title, and quarterback Kenny Ploen was named Grey Cup MVP. Winnipeg fans were eager to see the rematch in 1962, which, like the game the year before, was hosted in Toronto at Exhibition Stadium.
Hamilton Tiger-Cats fast facts:
- Season record: 9-4-1 (1st in East)
- Head Coach: Jim Trimble
- Quarterback: Joe Zuger & Frank Cosentino
The Ti-Cats wanted revenge on Winnipeg for their defeat in the previous year’s Grey Cup, but it wasn’t going to come easy for them, particularly with Hall of Fame quarterback Bernie Faloney injured for most of the year. In Faloney’s place, Joe Zuger ended up taking over the majority of the snaps – after Faloney’s departure from the Ti-Cats in 1965, Zuger became the team’s new full-time pivot. With Hamilton and Winnipeg’s rivalry so strong during these years, this Grey Cup match ended up being the first CFL game broadcasted on American TV, when ABC’s Wide World of Sports covered the matchup. It was the only game until 1980 to appear on American television, when ESPN acquired the rights to broadcast CFL games across the US market.
0:26 – CBC’s Mark Lee giving an intro, set to a Vivaldi-esque orchestral soundtrack (???) of today’s broadcast. The CBC re-ran these old games as sports filler a number of years ago, when they were in need of #content. This includes a rundown of historical tidbits that year – completion of the Trans-Canada Highway, Kennedy & Khrushchev and the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the success of Lawrence of Arabia at the box office. This game has become known as the “Fog Bowl” in CFL history, and the weather necessitated playing the final ten minutes of the game on the following day, as players and fans alike were completely unable to see the action on the field by the time the game was postponed.
1:32 – Our old footage begins. Winnipeg will kick off, and Hamilton will receive.
2:01 – A little bit of proto-SkyCam action?? Interesting technological development, here!
4:22 – Winnipeg’s Kenny Ploen gets sacked by guard John Barrow, forcing a Bombers punt.
10:16 – The fog, of course, will be a problem all game long, but we’re now starting to see it creep into view in a major way. Even the low-quality footage makes it readily apparent.
10:51 – Hamilton’s Garney Henley, a halfback, gets the carry, and proceeds to break a ton of tackles as he weaves his way down the right sideline, diving into the end zone for the game’s opening touchdown! Some great downfield blocking helping him along the way.
11:42 – Ti-Cats’ defensive halfback and kicker Don Sutherin misses the convert, and the score is 6-0, Hamilton.
25:26 – Kenny Ploen is sacked again, this time by Pete Newman, for a loss of 12 yards.
31:18 – Kenny Ploen’s pass to left end Farrell Funston is complete, and honestly, it feels like it’s been the first actually successful pass attempt from either team this game. This game feels like some quintessential mid-century football to me.
31:55 – Ploen calls his own number and has an awesome 41-yard run to end the quarter!
32:35 – Bernie Faloney is providing colour commentary on the opening quarter of action – since he’s out for the year, he’s actually in the studio and not on the sidelines, and looking very dapper indeed.
33:44 – Bombers halfback Leo Lewis gets the handoff at the 5-yard line, and bounces off his tackler to get into the endzone! After the convert kick, it’s 7-6, Winnipeg.
40:39 – The lights have now come on in the stadium to see if that’ll help with the thickening fog.
43:45 – Look at this fog! It’s incredible!
46:11 – Good god, I have no idea how I’m gonna be able to keep watching this if they keep the standard camera setup. Looks like they’re going to be switching to using sideline cameras for a bit.
48:05 – Winnipeg has scored again! You can’t see what’s happened, but halfback Leo Lewis takes a handoff from Kenny Ploen, rolls out, and throws a 15-yard strike to fullback Charlie Shepard in the endzone. Shepard actually loses his shoe on the play. After the conversion, it’s 14-6, Winnipeg.
50:16 – Hamilton’s Joe Zuger rolls right and takes off out of the pocket, with a nice run to take the Ti-Cats to midfield.
52:49 – The weather office says there’s “no hope for conditions to improve.” As I mentioned in an earlier CFL Beat, Toronto’s Exhibition Stadium was complete fucking garbage (and not only for weather-related reasons!) and was called “The Mistake on the Lake” by many. Even Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium, its better-known nickname counterpart, was better. In fact, Exhibition Stadium was such a point of embarrassment for the City of Toronto that its inadequacy was a major catalyst for the campaign in the early ’80s to get SkyDome built.
57:49 – Nobody knows what’s going on. Fans, commentators, officials, players – nobody. This is a complete farce. I love it.
59:07 – Ti-Cats’ coach Jim Trimble looks on from the sidelines, and his shadowy outline in the fog makes him look like a character out of a Hitchcock thriller.
1:01:00 – Joe Zuger hands off to fullback Bobby Kuntz, and he dives over the pile to score for Hamilton! Don Sutherin misses another conversion, and it’s 14-12, Winnipeg.
1:02:30 – Sutherin kicks off, and nobody can see anything at all. This is just ludicrous.
1:02:59 – Official word from the league is now that halftime will only be 15 minutes long, to try and make the most of the deteriorating weather.
1:03:30 – Winnipeg has fumbled – and Hamilton has recovered!
1:04:24 – Zuger rolls right and hands off to Garney Henley, and Hamilton scores again! Sutherin connects on the convert kick, and it’s 19-14, Hamilton.
1:06:13 – This is a test pattern, and I will not be convinced otherwise.
1:08:00 – And just like that, Leo Lewis scores again for the Blue Bombers! It’s 21-19 at the half, following the conversion. What an insane game.
1:11:20 – Did a quick Google search on the 85th Grey Cup, which is being advertised on this broadcast, and I won’t give away the final score, but I did happen to notice that in 1997, the halftime show was Trooper. CLASSIC ROCK BREAK!
From Trooper’s Wiki page, I present the following quotation: “Trooper’s visit to the archive [of Library and Archives Canada, which houses the official government archive of Trooper photos and textual records] was covered by almost every major newspaper in Canada.” Sometimes Canada is a liiiiiittle bit too easy to satirize, considering how good we are at unintentionally doing it to ourselves.
1:11:29 – The fog seems a tiny little bit better – but not much.
1:13:50 – Don Sutherin receives the punt and has a couple of decent jukes before being brought down.
1:14:43 – Crazy series of events here! Joe Zuger takes the snap and fumbles it, but picks it up again before any pass rushers can touch him; he gets a pass out over the middle to right end Paul Dekker, who passes behind him back to left end Hal Patterson, who also has a tough time handling it and falls to the ground. It’s the exact opposite of a textbook play, but it’s good for a first down.
1:22:25 – Zuger throws a bomb to Garney Henley, good for 53 yards. Not that you can see it, but trust me, it’s there.
1:23:10 – It looks like we have another score. The announcer can’t tell what the play is, but Zuger’s hooked up with end Dave Viti for a 36-yard touchdown catch in the endzone! After the convert, Hamilton leads 26-21.
1:24:35 – Leo Lewis has a very nice 64-yard return to bring the ball back down into Hamilton territory!
1:27:14 – Bombers backup QB Hal Ledyard connects with HB Leo Lewis on a short curl, and Lewis rumbles down past the 5 yard line to bring Winnipeg very close to scoring yet again.
1:28:05 – Fullback Charlie Shepard gets the handoff, and he’s in for his second major of the game! After the convert, it’s 28-26, Winnipeg.
1:32:13 – Garney Henley has another first down for Hamilton, with a 19-yard run to take the ball down to the Winnipeg 38. Trust me.
1:35:45 – Don Sutherin attempts another kick – this time, a field goal – for Hamilton, but yet again, he’s missed. The ball sails out of the back of the end zone, resulting in a…
The score is now 28 to 27, Winnipeg.
1:36:32 – Ernie Pitts has a 27-yard catch for Winnipeg, as the Bombers come right back down the field.
1:39:30 – On the final play of the quarter, Joe Zuger gets the ball out, looking deep over the middle to Hal Patterson, but it’s incomplete, and Zuger gets absolutely smoked after letting the pass fly.
1:40:30 – “This is the first Grey Cup game that has grossed over half a million dollars.” To account for inflation, $500,000 CAD in 1962 is worth $4,306,962.03 in 2020. That’s not Super Bowl gate revenue at all, but that’s not bad. Remember, in the 1950s and early 1960s, the Canadian dollar was actually worth more than the American dollar, and as a result, the CFL ended up poaching a significant amount of elite US college talent due to the ability to offer more lucrative contracts than the NFL, surprisingly enough.
1:41:00 – Hal Ledyard’s pass is intercepted by defensive halfback Sam Fernandez, and Hamilton takes over at the Winnipeg 41!
1:42:10 – Joe Zuger looks end zone, but the pass is knocked down, setting up 3rd and 8.
1:50:35 – The boos rain down from the crowd at the horrific fog and terrible visibility.
1:51:00 – Referee Paul Dojack consults with CFL Commissioner Sydney Halter about what to do, because conditions are the worst they’ve been all afternoon at this point in the game.
1:51:29 – CBC’s Mark Lee notes that the game was paused for 20 minutes by Commissioner Halter, and re-scheduled to finish the final 9:29 of game play the following day. Weirdly enough, during the entire time this debacle was taking place, there was bright sunlight just a few blocks north at the University of Toronto’s Varsity Stadium, the home of the U of T Varsity Blues and former home of the Toronto Argonauts. It’s the only time in CFL history that a game has had to be played over multiple days – and just 15,000 fans returned the following day to watch the conclusion of the game. Not the ending the league was looking for, particularly on the stage for an American audience for the first time ever on television.
1:52:32 – Play resumes, with Winnipeg on offence; Hamilton jumps offside to start Day 2 of competition.
1:57:45 – Frank Cosentino is now in at quarterback for the Ti-Cats; Joe Zuger was injured yesterday and won’t be their go-to guy; he’s just going to focus primarily on his punting duties. Cosentino rolls right and tries to connect with Hal Patterson, but he can’t quite hold on to the pass.
2:00:00 – Leo Lewis tries to run the ball for the Bombers, but he’s swarmed quickly by tacklers.
2:01:22 – Garney Henley has another carry for Hamilton, and he’s driven out of bounds at the 41. Henley has been Hamilton’s best player this weekend, by a fair margin.
2:01:55- Frank Cosentino was clearly sick the day they learned about ball security, based on the way he’s running with the ball. The ball-carrying arm is outstretched, well away from his body, just asking for a linebacker to come punch it out from him.
2:03:45 – Halfback George Scott misses Zuger’s pass, and even as the ball falls incomplete, he tries to pick it up and run with it. Not gonna happen. The Ti-Cats turn the ball over on downs.
2:07:17 – Hal Patterson has a sensational catch at the 44-yard line! Hamilton’s got a ways to go, but there’s still a little bit of time left – 28 seconds to go.
2:08:45 – Cosentino looks deep right sideline to Garney Henley, but it’s incomplete. There’s 14 seconds left.
2:09:26 – Joe Zuger is going to try and kick for a rouge, as Hamilton’s well out of field goal. Unfortunately, Kenny Ploen, who’s also playing safety and returning punts, falls on the ball outside the end zone, and forces the Ti-Cats to take a no-yards penalty. That’ll do it! The Bombers win yet another Grey Cup as fans pour onto the field to celebrate, without question, the weirdest championship game in the history of Canadian football.
What an absolutely crazy game. There were so many stories that came out of this one; Ti-Cats kicker Don Sutherin, for one, swears he hit the field goal that was ruled a rouge near the end of the third quarter. Whether he did or not, his missed conversions also played large into the final outcome. The thick fog was certainly not an ideal situation for anybody who participated in, or watched, this game, but players persevered nonetheless. Hamilton couldn’t even get out of Toronto due to the traffic to go home for the night before returning the next day, and were forced to stay in two different motels due to the number of fans who’d come to Toronto to watch the game. They slept poorly, put their wet clothes back on, and went back to finish playing the next morning. Regardless of the logistics and visibility, the game was a hit to ABC’s Jack McKay, who said “I’ve not seen hitting as hard as this in any game. What a pity the fog had to spoil it.” Blue Bombers halfback Leo Lewis was named Grey Cup MVP thanks to his very strong performance, including two touchdowns on the ground and another through the air.
Thanks for reading! Check back next week, when we take a look at the 1981 Grey Cup, which had a league finalist with the worst season record in the history of the CFL – the 5-11 Ottawa Rough Riders against the powerhouse Edmonton Eskimos.