Monthly Archives: July 2016

Crosby, Kessel, and the Stanley Cup

Last Friday and Saturday, Sidney Crosby took the Stanley Cup to his hometown of Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia. It was a busy 24 hours in the Halifax area, as Crosby brought the Cup to a local Tim Hortons (being the most famous graduate of the Timbits hockey program), took it to his local hockey school for children and brought it to a Veterans hospital on the Friday. On Saturday, he paraded with the Cup in Cole Harbour.

Screen shot taken from the Internet feed of Crosby’s Cole Harbour parade.

Crosby did many of the same things during his 24 hours with the Stanley Cup after Pittsburgh’s victory in 2009. Didn’t seem like anyone was tired of it, though!

After Sidney Crosby’s time in Cole Harbour, the Stanley Cup was flown to Madison, Wisconsin, where Phil Kessel and his family spent some time with it in their hometown on Sunday. On Monday, Kessel brought the Stanley Cup to Toronto. People hadn’t seemed thrilled with the idea when the controversial ex-Leaf said he was thinking about a Toronto visit after Pittsburgh’s victory. Even so, Kessel seems to have won the hearts of his detractors with his unannounced visit to share the Cup with the young patients at the Hospital for Sick Children … a Toronto institution he had quietly supported throughout his time with the Maple Leafs.

Sick Kids
Screen shots taken from Sick Kids video of Phil Kessel’s visit.

Phil Kessel isn’t the first former Toronto star to bring the Stanley Cup to town after winning it with another team. The very first time the Cup visited Toronto was way back in February of 1901. It came in the care of George Carruthers. Never heard of him? Well, you likely would have if you were a hockey fan in Toronto in the late 1890s. He played with the Toronto Rowing Club and the team from Osgoode Hall, and Toronto newspapers circa 1899 referred to him as the best cover point (defenseman) in the city.

In the fall of 1900, work took Carruthers to Winnipeg. He caught on as a spare player with the Winnipeg Victorias, perennial champions of Manitoba, and was with the team when they defeated the Montreal Shamrocks in a tight series that wrapped up on January 31, 1901. On their way back to Winnipeg with the Stanley Cup, the Victorias stopped off in Toronto to make a pilgrimage to the gravesite of their former teammate Frank Higginbotham, who had died in his hometown of Bowmanville, Ontario, shortly after the Vics’ first Cup win in 1896.

Clippings from the Toronto Star and The Globe, February 5, 1901.
Photo of George Carruthers is from the Society for International Hockey Research.

George Carruthers was “The Keeper of the Cup” during its visit to Toronto, and on February 5, 1901, he put Lord Stanley’s prize on display for the citizens of his hometown in the show window of J.E. Ellis, a jeweller with a store on the corner of King Street and Yonge – less than a five-minute walk from the current location of the Hockey Hall of Fame. The clip from the Toronto Star says of Carruthers and the Cup, “when it is not on public exhibition, he carries it around in the pocket of his coon-skin coat.” The Stanley Cup was a lot smaller in those days, but even so that must have been some big coat Carruthers was wearing!

DiMaggio & Williams

Seventy-five years ago this summer, Major League Baseball witnessed two extraordinary feats. Ted Williams (who was in only his third season, and didn’t turn 23 until August 30) became the last player to hit .400, while Joe DiMaggio (in his sixth season and 26 years old) set a record that is unlikely to be broken with his 56-game hitting streak.

On this day, July 13, 1941, (a Sunday) DiMaggio got hits in both halves of a double header, collecting three hits in the opener and one in the night cap, as the New York Yankees swept the White Sox in Chicago. A crowd of 50,387  – the largest at Comisky Park in six years – saw The Yankee Clipper run his streak to 53 games. He was batting .369 for the season.

DiMag 53

The Red Sox also played a double header that day, but Ted Williams wasn’t in the lineup. He’d injured his ankle in Detroit the day before, and missed the twinbill in Cleveland. Williams was actually slumping at the time.

Having gone above .400 on May 25, and reaching a high of .436 on June 6, The Splendid Splinter needed four hits in eight a bats in a doubleheader on July 6 to reach the All-Star break still above .400 at .405. Two days later, he hit a dramatic three-run home run with two out in the bottom of the ninth to give the American League a 7-5 victory over the National League in the All-Star Game at Detroit.


Coming off of that high, Williams went 0-for-4 in a 10-2 Red Sox victory over the Tigers when the season resumed on July 11. That dropped his average to .398. He fell to .397 after going 0-for-1 on July 12 … although he did draw three walks in that one.

The ankle injury he suffered that day kept Williams sidelined until July 16, when he went 0-for-1 as a pinch hitter. Then he sat again until July 19, when he pinch hit in both halves of a doubleheader, going 0-for-1 with a walk and watching his average fall to .393. That was as low as he would go. After singling as a pinch hitter on July 20, Williams returned to the Red Sox outfield on July 22. He had seven hits in 15 at-bats over the next four games to get back to .400 on July 25.


Williams never fell below .400 again, famously entering the final day of the season on September 28, 1941, with a .39955 average but refusing to sit out to protect a mark that would have rounded up to .400. He had six hits in eight at-bats in a doubleheader against the Philadelphia A’s that day and ended the season at .406.

Ted Williams also led the AL with 37 home runs in 1941, while his 120 RBIs ranked him fourth. DiMaggio finished the season third in batting at .357, fourth in homers with 30, and first in RBIs with 125. The Yankees finished the season in first place with a record of 101-53, which had them 17 games ahead of the Red Sox, who were second at 84-70. DiMaggio edged out Williams in MVP voting (the second of three times he’d win the award in his career), and the Yankees went on to beat the Brooklyn Dodgers to win the World Series.

Reports of His Death…

Ninety-eight years ago today, on July 6, 1918 (a Saturday), sports fans reading their favorite newspaper came across reports that Art Ross had either died, or was dying, as a result of injuries suffered in a motorcycle accident. At the time, Ross had just reached the end of a playing career that had seen him widely recognized as one of the greatest players in hockey.

Art Ross excelled at many sports, as this cartoon panel illustrates.

News of the accident first broke in some evening editions on July 5, 1918. The story claimed that Ross and a nephew, Hugh Ross, had been badly hurt during the evening of Thursday, July 4, and that Hugh died of his injuries at 1:30 am on July 5.

July 5

By July 6, most newspapers reported that Ross was badly injured, although some claimed that he, too, had died. Below are reports from the New York Times, and from the Evening Tribune in Providence, Rhode Island, which put the headlines over the wrong stories, but reported that Ross had been killed.

NYT & Prov

That same day, The Toronto World reported in its sports section on page nine that Ross had died, but the same paper had previously reported on page two that he’d suffered no injuries at all.

TO World

Fortunately, in Montreal, where Ross’s wife, infant son, mother and brother Colin all resided, the news was cleared up fairly quickly. Art Ross was fine, but the sad truth was that Hugh Ross, a few months short of his 25th birthday, had been killed.

Gazette Redo

Even so, two days later, on July 8, the Syracuse Herald had a story on its sports page claiming that Art Ross had died.


And some newspapers still didn’t have the facts straight for several more days.


As I wrote in Art Ross: The Hockey Legend Who Built the Bruins, even now, when a story breaks suddenly, it can be hard to make sense of the conflicting initial reports on the various all-news networks. This was even truer when newspapers were the only real source of news, and so many of them were competing in the same market.

If the story of Art Ross’s death in 1918 had been true, the game of hockey might look very different today. It’s a certainty that its history would.