Yesterday, TSN producer Matt Dunn and television personality Brian Williams came to Fairwinds to interview Gerry James about his dual careers in the CFL and NHL. After shooting footage of Gerry playing golf with some members of his old foursome, everyone gathered in the club house for lunch. Thanks to Ward Stouffer, his staff and the Fairwinds Golf Club for hosting us.
One reason for the visit was the recent achievement of Jon Cornish and Andrew Harris, two Canadian running backs who duplicated what Gerry and Normie Kwong accomplished 55 years ago. 1957 was the last time two Canadians ran for over 1000 yards in the same season. More importantly, Brian and Matt made it clear that they both feel it is their mission to convince Canadians that it’s important to celebrate some of the country’s forgotten iconic figures; not just in sports but in general. To paraphrase Brian, when you ask young fans today if they can imagine someone playing in a Grey Cup and Stanley Cup in the same season, they simply shake their heads. Then they say, but he didn’t do both full time. Yes he did, Brian answers, and they stare at him in disbelief. And he did both for five seasons, Brian adds. Gerry played five seasons for the Toronto Maple Leafs and pro ball for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers for ten years, twice winning the Schenley and placing runner-up to “The Rocket” for the Lou Marsh Award in 1957. He still holds the record for playing in the most post-season games.
After lunch we returned to Marg’s and Gerry’s house where Brian talked to the couple about their lives back in the glory days and sketched in the years since. At the end of the day, Brian and I sat down to talk about writing Kid Dynamite, why I had done it and what I had learned. We discovered a common concern and passion; the need to pay homage to those who help define our character. The story will likely be broadcast on TSN the week of the Western final, November 18th. Thanks Brian, Matt, and the all-important technical duo of Vince and Sparky. You made the day memorable. And you have helped resurrect a career everyone should celebrate.