Seasoned Ticket Holder
Levitt has been a fan longer than the Ticats have been a team
July 18, 2009
The Hamilton Spectator
(Jul 18, 2009)
Norman Levitt will be back in his usual perch at tonight's Tiger-Cat game, keeping a 63-year string as a season-ticket holder alive.
"I don't think anyone has been going as long as I have. Is anyone else this old?" the 92-year-old joked after watching part of a Ticat scrimmage Thursday at Ivor Wynne Stadium.
"I started buying season tickets in 1947, the year after I came home from the war in Europe."
In the unlikely event someone has a longer run of continuous support, Levitt will find out at halftime tonight when the football club honours the 1965 Grey Cup champs and fans who have faithfully followed the team since the 1960s.
"Norman's loyalty is the kind we build the business on," said Tiger-Cat owner Bob Young. "His enthusiasm for the team is second only to mine."
Levitt was married to the Cats before he wed Blanche, who joined him for many of those seasons from 1951 on.
In fact, he had tickets to the old Flying Wildcats, which amalgamated with the Tigers in 1950 to create the Tiger-Cats.
And for many seasons Levitt had 10 seats for his business at Ticat games, largely through the glory decades of the 1950s and '60s.
He stayed up to 1 a.m. last weekend to watch his team upset the British Columbia Lions, hoping the sad-sack club of the past few seasons is set to rebound.
But he's a realist, literally a guy who has seen it all.
"There has been lots of talk before recent seasons about how much better the team would be. And they won the second game last year, too, and then didn't do very well after. I'm not happy about that, but I stay hopeful."
Levitt, who retired at 71 as co-owner and president of Canada Iron & Metal, has a long history of civic engagement besides backing the football club.
He was president of the Hamilton Olympic Club, sat on the city's entertainment complexes' board HECFI, was on the Ticat advisory board and still sits on the board of the Hamilton District Society for Disabled Children.
For his 65th birthday, his wife made a poster noting Norman Wears Many Hats.
She drew 16 chapeaux representing public bodies he worked with.
But the most important one was the lid he'd need at Ticat games.
"Rain, wind, sleet or snow, Norman will be there," she says.
Players who stand out for him include quarterback Bernie Faloney, tough tackler Angelo Mosca and swift Garney Henley.
Two games rise to the top of his memories -- the 1961 Eastern final at Civic Stadium when the Ticats overcame an 18-point deficit to win in overtime, and 25 years later when Hamilton dominated Edmonton in the 1986 Grey Cup.
But as far back as 1935, he was attending Grey Cup games, including the Winnipeg win over Hamilton at the city's HAAA Grounds.
"That was something," he said of a championship tilt famous for the winning 78-yard punt-return touchdown by Fritz Hanson.email@example.com