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Today's Tidbit... Fog and the 1962 Grey Cup, Part II
As our coverage of the 1962 Grey Cup ended yesterday, the game had been suspended due to intense fog, with plans to resume action the next day, Sunday, at 12:30 PM. Immediate reactions to suspending the game were largely negative, but the reasons for the responses varied. Winnipeg coach Bud Grant called the delay "Ridiculous," claiming the people on the sideline could see every play. Tiger-Cats President and later CFL Commissioner Jake Gaudaur said the postponement was "the craziest I've ever heard of" since the teams and everyone else would have to return the following day. Fans from Toronto who were not Hamilton or Winnipeg supporters objected to spending the time and money to return for 9 minutes and 28 seconds of football.
A complaint voiced by one newspaper reporter that spread like wildfire was that the commissioner's decision was influenced by ABC and the U.S. audience set to watch the game. The thought that American television viewers' needs trumped those of Canadian fans in the stands was infuriating. That rumor was soon quashed when it became known that ABC had prepared to show a videotape of a CFL playoff game if needed; the rumor stuck around, nevertheless.
There were practical issues at the stadium as well. Fans had to show up with their ticket stubs the next day, but some had tossed them aside, causing some to wander the stadium grounds looking for stubs lying on the ground. The police department schedules had to change to provide Sunday traffic and crowd control after supervising the Torontonians who partied late into Saturday night regardless of the score. Drivers of cars parked in the area struggled to find their vehicles and to drive them home once located. At the same time, uniforms needed washing, training supplies needed replenishing, and the teams' travel and hotel arrangements had to change.
Yet another consideration concerned how to notify fans of the remaining details for Sunday. Like most of Canada at the time, Toronto did not have a newspaper that published a Sunday edition. The challenge of communicating changes became especially relevant several hours after announcing the postponement when Commissioner Halter indicated that if foggy conditions continued on Sunday, he would declare the game a "no contest." The CFL would go without a champion in 1962.
As it turned out, Sunday dawned with some fog hanging about the stadium, but not enough to prevent finishing the game. An estimated 15,000 fans showed up, less than half the number from Saturday but more than the 5,000 the concessions manager expected and prepared for. Still, the game went on. The final 9 minutes and 28 seconds saw Hamilton play aggressively, outgaining Winnipeg 108 yards to 4, but they never threatened until the game's final play.
At that point, Hamilton had the ball on Winnipeg's 45-yard line down by one point with time running out. Rather than toss a Hail Mary pass, the obvious approach under U.S. rules, Hamilton punted instead, hoping to boot the ball into the end zone where they might tackle the return man to score a rouge and tie the game. Alas, the Winnipeg punt returner caught the ball on the 1-yard line, fell to the ground, and Winnipeg was the 1962 CFL champion.
The Grey Cup victory was Winnipeg and Bud Grant's fourth over Hamilton in the past five years, with each victory coming over Hamilton's head coach, Jim Trimble. Trimble had been Bud Grant's position coach and then head coach when Grant played for the Philadelphia Eagles in 1951 and 1952, so the victory was sweet for Grant, and any win by a team from Western Canada over the East was worth savoring. Although he was a multi-Grey Cup loser, Trimble made his longest-lasting contribution to football a few years later when he invented the slingshot or forked goal post – the version with one pole offset from the goal line that is now nearly universal.
So, a game ended without incident, and despite going 22 hours between downs at one point, they finished the regulation 60 minutes, and everyone left the field knowing that Winnipeg had won fair and square. Despite the fog and the delay, Winnipeg's 1962 Grey Cup victory does not need an asterisk. They won on the field, and despite hefty doses of criticism, Commissioner Halter's decisions proved at least adequate, if not correct.
As a reminder to American readers, today's Grey Cup is unavailable on a network or cable channel in the U.S., but you can stream it for free at cfl.ca/plus starting at 6:00 PM Eastern.
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