What happened in the winter of 1973?

In the fall of 1972, the Tiger-Cats finished the season in first, calmly secured another Grey Cup berth, asserted themselves as champions again, and the entire nation continued to despise us fans. Then something unknown, unheard, and unseen took place during that following off-season that has doomed the team to mediocrity for nearly every one of the next forty-two years. And now, we, young and old, sit and sometimes post in utter frustration for an explanation as to what happened in the winter of 1973.
For us over 50, we remember the glory days well. From the league's inaugural season; 1950 until 1972, the Tiger-Cats had winning seasons 87% of the time. They appeared in the Grey Cup nearly half (48%) of those years. And they brought the Cup home to us over a quarter (26%) of those twenty-three seasons. The Blue Bomber teams of the day were our hated rivals with the next best success at getting to and winning the Cup, but for a bunch of felines, we were the league's Top Dogs. We were the "Dawn Yankees" of the CFL, and other teams were willing to make a deal with the Devil to get what we had. (Theatrical reference...sorry)
On the surface, good things were happening in the first few months of 1973. All American troops had been recalled from Vietnam, and their POWs were being sent home too. But north of the border, a prolonged and confusing war was set to begin, with no sight of victory even after forty-one years of entanglement. (Excessive hyperbole...sorry)
From 1973 until last season, the Tiger-Cats have trailed the league in the same statistics that they led the CFL in the years previous. In those 41 years, the Cats have managed winning seasons only 27% of the time. That's a stunning 60% drop-off. Our appearances in the Grey Cup dropped from 48% to 17%, and Cup winning percentage dropped from 26% to 6%. What we had in the 1950s and 60s; a dynasty, was stolen from us. Those who took it, aren't guilty of theft, or trickery, or anything supernatural. They took our dynasty and have held it for 41 years thanks to something perfectly legal; good management.
The Edmonton Eskimos have produced winning seasons 71% of the time since 1973. They have won ten Cups to our two, which matches the earlier Cats' Cup winning percentage of a quarter of the time. And 41 years is a lot longer than 23. Since 1973, the Lions, Stampeders, and Alouettes have all had winning seasons more than half of the time (the Bombers are at 49%). The same reason why they hated us way back when, is why we hate them now; jealousy.
So there's the source of our frustration; a couple of decent seasons every decade, sporadic appearances in the final, and a couple Cup wins in over 40 years. Dawn Eskimos! What would you give for a Klondike Bar? (Okay Frank, now you've lost it, you self-indulgent boob...an tagline from an old advertisement and a reference to Klondike Days in Edmonton.)
To anyone who read this completely, I thank you for your patience.

"Damn Yankees" (not Dawn Yankees) was a Broadway musical from a long time ago where members of the Washington Senators sold their souls to the Devil so that they could finally defeat the New York Yankees (also known for a rousing male chorus singing "You've Gotta Have Heart"). (More self-indulgent boobery from Frank...sorry).

And is auto correct changing damn to dawn?

Excellent post and something I have been complaining about for years. In 1973 a black cloud parked itself over this team and has never left. I hope for another Grey Cup but am becoming more and more doubtful.

The mid 80's was a good time

Nope, nope, nope. You’ve got it all wrong. The team experienced plenty of success after '73. We’ve been haunted ever since 2002, when Ron Lancaster fired Don Sutherin.

Since then: 2 winning seasons, 3 playoff wins, 0 Grey Cups.

The Curse of the Bambino pales in comparison to the Sudsy Curse!

Frank Madigan, you seem to believe in deals with the Devil.

Did you ever consider that it may have been the Ticats who made such a deal, in order to deliver a Grey Cup win to the hometown fans in 1972? Perhaps the scheming-at-all-costs to win the big one at home did not just begin in 2012 and 2013. Maybe Hamilton fans have been paying the diabolical price for their Greatest Hour ever since.

Here's my take on what happened in 1973:

From 1900 to the 1960's Hamilton was one of the most prosperous cities in Canada. Manufacturing was booming and there were lots of high paid jobs for off-season football players.

Beginning in about 1970 Canadian manufacturing went into a (relative) slump that it has never recovered from. The money went to the resource rich provinces and the Alberta teams started to win consistently, while Hamilton and Winnipeg suffered as the manufacturing sector in those cities suffered.

Of course this does not explain Toronto whose economy has done well since 1970 without seeing corresponding success on the football field, but there has to be an exception to every rule. :wink:

Our new stadium and the team's front office focus on the technology sector, that is doing well in Hamilton and surrounding areas, bode well for the Tiger-Cats future success.

Caretaker, I agree, the manufacturing sector in Hamilton of heavy industry like steel making has changed dramatically over the past 30 years and has spawned growth in other areas in Hamilton like Healthcare and Technology, the heavy Industrial Manufacturing jobs have diminished and people either have moved on to other areas or been retrained into other positions.

The Tiger-Cats and the City have grown together as this landscape of change has happened, unfortunately as people lose their jobs and employment the Tiger-Cats feel it as well in box office sales of Tickets, so the local economy goes hand in hand with the Tiger-Cats, in 98 and 99 the City was doing good and the Cats were as well just one example and in 99 we won the Grey Cup in Vancouver.

A lot goes into making a winning football team good coaching, management, ownership, players, fans and so on but one of the biggest is just what this team has lacked in the past nearly two years, A Home Stadium to Train, Practice and most of all Play in and hopefully by Labor Day that dream will come true and I'm sure you will see a positive attitude and approach to this team when they do have a place to call home and bond together as a team and Win again!!!

I love the nostalgia and truth in your post, Frank. I also remember vividly, the 1950s era and some of the best football entertainment ever. Coaches like Carl Voyles, Jim Trimble and Ralph Sazio all come to mind along with some of the storybook players like Lou Kusserow, Vince Mazza, Bernie Custis,etc.

Most of all, I remember the wonderful football rallies we used to take part in when we won the playoffs and were on our way to another Grey Cup or other prestigious occasions. Its great to reflect on those days with anyone who was there. They were great days, weren't they?

I continue, after all these years, to hold my head high with pride for our beloved Ticats and await the recurrence of those wonderful days. Hopefully, it won't take much longer but in any event, I remain convinced, return they will. :thup:

Thanks Rock:
People should always treat my posts in a light-hearted manner.
But since you mentioned Bernie Custis, I've got a remembrance of the man. Mr. Custis was my guidance teacher in middle school. He was a dead serious guy, and there was no messing around with him. Because of something stupid I had done, I was called into his office for an "interview." Of course being a kid, I couldn't get where he was coming from, and me being a little white punk from Ancaster, he shouldn't have had any time for me. But he tried his best to straighten me out and I showed a decent enough level of respect to get out of there. Only after too many years was I able to have an appropriate amount of respect for a little black kid who grew up in the States in the 1930s.


I should have mentioned that I saw "Damn Yankees" twice on stage and once on film and frequently think of making a deal with the devil if we could win one more Grey Cup. Kidding of course :twisted:

And the curse shall be lifted following the destruction and rebuild of the hometown championship stadium of 1972...

Not sure I agree completely with 1973 being such a marker year in the history of the Tiger-Cats.
There is no question the manufacturing industry decline in Hamilton had an effect on attendance after that but despite some coaching problems we still fielded some very good teams after that.
We were in the Grey Cup in 1884, 1985 and won in 1986. We won again in 1989. After that were in the Grey Cup final in 1998 and won it in 1999.
To me, 1999 is a more important marker point. Before that, the longest Grey Cup appearance drought lasted 11 years (1973 to 1984) but until last year it had been 14 years between Grey Cup appearances.
There have been some encouraging signs in the past few years because of an occasional playoff appearance so let's hope we are finally on the road to successful seasons....which in my book means either an Eastern championship or a Grey Cup appearance or win.
I'm also not sure I agree with the hate for Winnipeg lasting as long as Frank mentioned. I remember that incredible rivalry (1960-1962 especially) where no matter how good we were we always knew Winnipeg was capable of somehow squeezing out a win. But I think that rivalry decreased over the years after that and almost disappeared. I'd say it wasn't until the spying incident a few years ago, that the old dislike for Winnipeg returned.
We still have a proud team history which includes 11 Grey Cup wins and 19 Grey Cup losses.That puts us in fourth place in CFL Grey Cup history.
I hope that despite declining crowds after 1973, and management mistakes after 1999, that we are now poised for a return to consistently successful seasons and more Grey Cups. I still believe Bob Young will lead us to that and the new stadium will provide an appropriately new rallying point. :thup:

Correction to my post above...we have 15 Grey Cup wins. Not 11. Losses should have been 12. Not 19.

1974 was the start of many ownership changes


Bob Young (Oct. 7, 2003 – Present)
Ownership term length: 10 years and counting
Single Ownership

Bob Young - 100%
CFL (Aug. 16, 2003 – Oct. 7, 2003)
Ownership term length: 1 month, 3 weeks
Single Ownership

CFL - 100%
Grant/McDonald (Apr. 13, 1995 – Aug. 16, 2003)
Ownership term length: 8 years, 4 months
Group Ownership

George Grant - ?%
David McDonald - ?%

Yachetti/Michaluk/McDonald/Others (Oct. 20, 1993 – Apr. 13, 1995)
Ownership term length: 1 year, 5 months
Group Ownership

Roger Yachetti - ?%
John Michaluk - ?%
David McDonald - ?%
Seventeen additional investors - ?%

Yachetti/Michaluk/Others (Aug. 13, 1992 – Oct. 20, 1993)
Ownership term length: 1 year, 2 months
Group Ownership

Roger Yachetti - ?%
John Michaluk - ?%
Nine additional investors - ?%

David Braley (Feb. 15, 1989 – Aug. 13, 1992)
Ownership term length: 3 years, 6 months
Single Ownership

David Braley - 100%
Maple Leaf Gardens Ltd. (Feb. 1, 1978 – Feb. 15, 1989)
Ownership term length: 11 years
Single Ownership

Harold Ballard/Maple Leaf Gardens Ltd. - 100%
Michael DeGroote (Jan. 1, 1974 – Feb. 1, 1978)
Ownership term length: 4 years, 1 month
Single Ownership

Michael DeGroote - 100%
Unknown (Jan. 1, 1960 – Jan. 1, 1974)
Ownership term length: 14 years
Group Ownership

Community/Widely Held (Jan. 1, 1950 – Jan. 1, 1960)
Ownership term length: 10 years
Group Ownership

Community/Widely Held - 100%


Harold Ballard happened!

Yes, it’s the Ballard curse!! :stuck_out_tongue: