History of the A's

 
 

An Interview with Ken "Weiner" Croft

 

 

Ken Croft was raised in the rough and tumble Port Dalhousie of the depression years. As a green and untested 18-year-old, he received his senior lacrosse baptism with the short-staffed 1944 Mann Cup Champion Athletics and then later went on to develop into a solid goal scorer in the senior lacrosse circuit of the 1940s to mid-1950s.

Short on stature but long on speed and heart, Ken was inducted into the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame in the box player category in 2003.

 

Ken Croft of the 1947 Quebec City Montagnards

 

Gary: Ken, how did you get started in lacrosse?

 

Ken:

Well, Bobby Thorpe was only a few years older than me and we did a lot of things together. I could see his house from where I lived and we’d hang around together down in Port Dalhousie. I didn’t realize that these guys, Bobby and about four or five others, were playing midget lacrosse in St. Catharines. They sort of got me interested in the game. 

Sunday mornings we used to go over to a little area on Main Street, it used to be the bowling green, and we’d throw the ball around. With these big guys we sort of got used to throwing the ball fast. 

Then we would go down to see teams play at Lakeside Park. They put a bowl up and there would be a native team that would come there occasionally. A lot of the older Port players were playing at that time.

 

Gary: Where in the park was the bowl?

 

Ken: Well, it was actually where the baseball diamond had been. They would put the boards up and then take them down. Sometimes they left them up through the winter because they had a skating rink there too.

 

Gary: Would that be near where the carousel is now? 

 

Ken:

No, it would be more towards the grass field by the parking lot. The streetcar tracks came down the hill from Main Street and they went right down actually to the water. There were a lot of tracks there because when the picnics came in the summer time, they had all kinds of streetcars that ended up waiting to take people away at the end of the day. 

I don’t know, it just seemed that nobody had any money then and us kids where scrambling just to have fun. We never seemed to get into trouble for the fun we had. But, you know, there were things that maybe we should not have done. (laughs) 

 

Gary: Was the first organized lacrosse you played in Port Dalhousie? 

 

Ken: No, I played in St. Catharines. The first year that I played, the kids I mentioned didn’t go again. I don’t know why, maybe they were in the next age group. When I first started I thought they would be doing the same thing, but I ended up going all by myself. I was the only kid from Port that would take the streetcar or I would hitch-hike to go to the Haig Bowl. And at that time, I know everybody that played got a stick. They’d give you a stick and that was the start of it.

 

Gary: I know that the Senior Athletics in those days would use a portion of their profits to buy sticks for the minors.

 

Ken: There is a picture in the museum that shows all the kids getting these sticks.

 

Gary: You would get a new stick every year you played?

 

Ken: Well yes, pretty well, and any kid that had a stick usually carried them everywhere, just like some of the kids do now like Steenhuis. And any place there was a brick wall, there would be a lacrosse ball that hit it. In Port, there weren't many kids with sticks.

 

Gary: Who were some of the older lacrosse names that were in Port at that time? 

 

Ken:

Well, George Coles of the A's married a Port girl and they lived across the street from Bill Mackie. Mackie was very active in lacrosse, baseball and hockey. He had a job at Thompson Products. His uncle Jimmy Inglis was also into sports and they were the guys that got the Sunday morning games going. I don't think we even had a net.

         I remember Jimmy Inglis, he was a pretty rough character. Nice guy, but rough. We didn’t have much equipment, a pair of gloves maybe, and he really hit me one day with the stick and it hurt. I really was kind of stopped by it, you know and he said to me, “If you can’t take it kid then get the hell out of here!.” (laughs)  

And that was generally the way things were in Port Dalhousie. The big guys would let you play with them, even hockey on the canal, and we thought that was a big deal. The big guys were good. I know there were several of them that played on the St. Catharines senior “A” hockey team; the Pinders, “Chick” Turner, "Speedy" Groh and these guys. If you got down on the canal when these guys were playing and they let you play, boy, it was really great. And it was the same thing with the lacrosse. When they were throwing the ball around, you really wanted to be there and you just took whatever was dished out.

         “Lick” McGregor was a goaltender for the Port Dalhousie team. He was a pretty decent goaltender and these guys were rough. Goalies didn’t wear very many pads back then. His reaction when he stopped the ball with his stick was like Whittaker, he would lift the ball up in the air and I’m talking 20 or 30 feet. Whether it was a reaction when they held the stick with so much force, I don’t know. When the ball hit the stick, up it went.

         It was a good sport and when the native team came, they were pretty good. I don’t even know where they came from, Rochester or where, but it seemed to me that they pretty much always won.

 

Gary: Did you have the nickname “Weiner” when you were a kid?

 

Ken: Yes, that was the thing. Everybody had nicknames, everybody in Port.

 

Gary: Do you remember who gave you that nickname? 

 

Ken: I haven’t got a clue. I know I was small, just into grade school, 6 or 7. That was the way it was.

 

Gary: The McNultys were Port boys?

 

Ken:

The McNultys lived on Elgin Street by the catholic school. They had a lot of kids. Their house was there and we used to play road hockey right there on the street. Every weekend and lots of time in between we’d be playing road hockey. 

Jimmy McNulty, I would say, was one of the best natural athletes that I ever knew. He could do it all and with ease. 

We would be playing hockey down there on the road, you know, and if you got a step or two ahead of him, well he’d just swing his stick and trip you. It didn’t matter, you would get up and your knees would be all scraped up and he’d laugh. 

But he was good. He was really good. He was the first guy that I ever heard of that won the senior lacrosse scoring championship in the east and in the west. That was amazing to me.

 

Gary: So you started playing lacrosse in midget?

 

Ken: No, bantam. I played for the “Tecs”. The Tecumsehs were called the “Tecs”. The C.Y.O. beat us that year and they were going to play before a Mann Cup game at Maple Leaf Gardens. They picked up “Whitey” (Frick), myself and Jack Gatecliff, and we went with them to Toronto and played at Maple Leaf Gardens.

 

Gary: That must have been a thrill.

 

Ken:

I’m telling you! 

But Owen Sound beat us by 20 to something. We weren’t even there, you know. That was the same group of guys that actually helped to win those Mann Cups and everything in Peterborough. They were our age and they just kept on going. They were good and they were well coached too.

 

Gary: And you would be added years later (1953) to the roster of a Peterborough Mann Cup team that won in British Columbia.

 

Ken: Bobby Thorpe was player-coach in Peterborough at that time, ’52 and ’53, and I got a chance to go. But I had a good year that year and that had a lot to do with it too.

 

 

Pick-up players Ken Croft and Derry Davies (shown) along with regulars Bobby Thorpe, Donald "Nip" O'Hearn, Jerry Fitzgerald and Harry Wipper gave the 1953 Mann Cup champion Peterborough Trailermen a healthy representation of St. Catharines-raised lacrosse talent.

 

Gary: That was the year you played in Orillia?

 

Ken:

Yes, I can remember back then, that particular year, and I don’t know why, whether I was doing something different, I don’t know, but I got 65 goals in 26 games. I used to go out of the house and feel that I was going to get three that night. It just seemed like the natural thing to do at that time, and I don’t know why.

I don’t know why because we played all the same teams as we had for several years. 

Kenny Dixon was my idol. He was really good. Bill Isaacs was the best native player I ever saw. And you know the worst part of that whole thing was, I saw him play when I was young when he played with Hamilton against the Athletics, and St. Catharines use to really beat him up. And he still excelled.

 

Gary: He was exceptional.

 

Ken: Bill Isaacs was certainly an exceptional person.

 

Gary: And he played on the ’44 Athletics team….

 

Ken: Yes he did.

 

Gary: for that one game that they needed to win the Mann Cup.

 

Ken: And you see what happened, they picked up “Scoop” Hayes, "Whoopie" Arthurs, Bill Isaacs and Al Doyle. Four of them, and of course four of us “kids” didn’t play. Well, in retrospect, everybody was doing it. We were lucky to get in the games before that because they wanted to use the players that got them to the finals and that was a good feature too. But I guess the executive got together when the series was tied and said, “Well, we want to win this”, and I was there when they gave each of those guys a hundred dollars.

 

Gary: That was for playing that one game?

 

Ken: Yes.

 

Gary: Were the “kids” disappointed?

 

Ken: No, no, that was another thing. I know that I was not disappointed. The only thing that I was a little disappointed about was when we went to Hamilton to play the final game we had to sit in the stands. I would rather have been at the bench. It sort of took away the association and the charisma of the whole win.

 

Gary: Do you remember a lot from that day?

 

Ken: I remember after the game and we were driving home in cars. There was no bus but we had followers that would drive three or four players in their cars with them. Well in 1938 it was their first win and in 1944 it was their fourth win. So there wasn’t the planning, or there wasn’t any parade, or there wasn’t anything when we got back here. We just got dropped off at the house. I don’t know if the older guys that drank had a party, I have no idea.

 

Gary: That was a big change from the earlier wins, wasn’t it?

 

Ken: Yes, it seemed to be, okay they’re going to win and they had done it before.

But getting back to the initial start of my playing for the Athletics. That was it. If you could play for the Athletics, you had really accomplished something. There were the older guys and the younger guys, and we really didn’t get that much coaching. Not like compared to today. It was up to the individual to do what he had to do to be part of it. And I remember I would go down the street to the bottom of Port Dalhousie and Billy Mackie lived near there. There was an old Chinese laundry and his house was right there. On the corner there was a gas station and then the park. Well, across the street, and it’s still there, was a stonewall holding back some higher ground. Bill Mackie could fire that ball, and I remember lots of times he’d have me out by the one side of the building towards the street. He’d be firing the ball back and forth with me and if I missed the ball, which I did lots of times, it would go across the street and hit that damn wall and come bouncing, you know, anywhere. And then I would get it from Mackie…“Get that damn stick in front of you and get the ball in it!” There was no, per se, instructions. It was like…you better catch the next one! (laughs).

 

Gary: Was that when you were first with the A’s? 

 

Ken: Yes. I would go down there because we would get a ride to a practice or a game. I had to go down to get a ride, you know.

 

Gary: Were there players on the 1944 team that looked after the “kids”, I know you mention Bill Mackie, but were there any other of the veteran players that helped the “kids” along?

 

Ken: Well, George Coles was really the only guy other than Mackie and Jimmy Inglis that helped me.

I remember we were at a practice and George Coles came to me as we were finishing and said, “Stay out for awhile.” And I said “Okay.” He said, “Now here’s the ball, you try and beat me.” And of course that didn’t happen. Then he said, “Here, before you get to me, take a step, you’re going one way or the other, then put a little speed on it and you’ll go by.” That was the first time anybody ever told me anything of that nature.

And I remember “Tank” Teather, I played on the same line as “Tank” and he couldn’t move very fast. He’d lumber along, but he would say to me, “You run for the net and if you get a step, you’ll get the ball.”

And, that was true.

I shot left so I was always on the right-hand side because I wanted the ball to come there as I was running and fire the ball as I ran by the net. And you know a lot of players can fire the ball with accuracy from a spot, but when you’re running its not as easy to hit a spot on the net. When the goaltender moves across the net as you're running by, you have to either fire it where he’s leaving or fire it before he gets to where he’s going. I see the kids now and they want to beat two or three people before they shoot. We’re sitting up there in the stands frustrated watching because everybody is jammed up in this little area in front of the net.

Now I wasn’t a very good checker. I was very small. One of the coaches said to me one day, “If you score up at the other end, you don’t have to back-check.” (laughs) It made a lot of sense to me. I don’t know if it helped or not.

When I was out on the floor, and someone was coming towards me to get by me, I always looked behind to see how close my backup was. Because it had to be a defenseman, you know. We forwards were out in front, the defense was back and the three forwards would come back and we’d try to pick up a man as he was coming. You know, “I got this guy, you got that.” Still happens now and it is good communication.

The bigger guys that played against us younger guys could push us right over. So what happened was if they pushed us over or got around us, there was another checker there waiting and you would get up and run to check his man.

It was an experience really. Even then I didn’t realize the significance of the whole thing. Really, you know. And I don’t know if kids today know about the hall of fame or anything of that nature.

Some nights you would have a good game and nobody on the A's would say anything. They just took it for granted that some days, you’re going to have a good game or somebody else was, and that was just part of the game. We didn’t go around raising our sticks and all that stuff. It was more that we’d get heck if we didn’t score. I don’t know where all that stick stuff started.

You know it’s strange. Now the kids go on and off as quickly as possible on offense and defense. If you score a goal you have to go off because the defense is coming on. Well it wasn’t the same then. If you scored a goal, even in hockey, and you were playing good, they would leave you out there for at least one more shift. And it excited you to go again. But when you go back to the bench it sort of settles you down. You don’t have the same adrenaline going. You want to get more when you get a couple of goals. (laughs)

I remember when I was going to the Collegiate, I never went for football and we used to get out early on the afternoon of football games. I used to get out of there as quickly as I could. When I left school, I would run all the way down to Lake and Louisa to get the streetcar as it came around. It was three o’clock and we’d get out maybe just a little before three or something like that, and I’d run down the street to get on that streetcar. And a lot of times I’d miss it because it was just taking off. (laughs) And I use to run home from Lakeside Park all the time, I had a nine o'clock nightly curfew. I think both of these factors contributed to my being a faster runner. I really look at that as being part of my education.

 

Gary: All that I've read says you were one of the faster runners in the game, did you try to run a lot of fast breaks? 

 

Ken: Well, sometimes. Whittaker could throw the ball a long ways you know. But the opposing goaltenders would come out and hit you. You would be reaching for the ball and you’d get decked, really decked, and that was really a tough check.

I think the older guys were not prone to the fast breaks, because they played together, they’d pass the ball as they moved up the floor. I don’t think there were too many fast breaks.

I know “Gus” (Carl Madsen) would lumber down the floor. And “Geezil” (Frank Madsen) his brother, was the same way. They would lumber down and they would have the ball. And with “Gus,” he had control. He would bring that ball down, and just his size alone was impressive. And then the ball would go somewhere and the first thing you knew there was a shot on the net or a goal. When we played, twenty goals wasn’t unusual. Everybody got goals. And now it’s a different thing. Of course the nets were a little bigger and that’s what the pros are doing now. They have a little bigger net and they’re getting more goals.

 

Gary: Have you been to N. L. L. games?

 

Ken: Not that many. I go south for the winter when the league is playing. But some games are shown on TV in Florida, and I watch them.

 

Gary: What do you think of the piped-in music and the cheerleaders and everything in the pro game?

 

Ken: Well I’ll tell you, it’s a way of getting entertainment, but it takes away from the actual competition.

 

Gary: After playing for the senior Athletics in 1944, you were drafted into the army in 1945 when you were nearly nineteen-years-old. Did you play any lacrosse at all in ’45?

 

Ken: In ’45, I was in the army and actually Jack Gatecliff was at the same area as I was at Borden, and we played lacrosse at Camp Borden. So did “Punch” Imlach and we played with the officers. And, (laughs) there were a lot of perks when you were playing sports in the army.

I remember one time we were on a twenty-mile route march and we got half way there. We were stopped to have a meal and a truck pulls up. They named out three or four guys, “Get in the truck, and bring your stuff!” We didn’t know what was going on. We got in the truck headed back to camp and then they said, “You’re playing lacrosse tonight, you know!” (laughs)

 

Gary: Who would you play against?

 

Ken: Well there were different teams. I know we were the machine-gunners. There were different groups in the camp. The guys from Owen Sound were in a different group and we used to play against them. There was Russ Slater and Don McWhirter. They still beat us, but it was fun. (laughs) 

 

Gary: Then in 1946 you were back in St. Catharines, but now with the junior Athletics.

 

Ken: That was a good team. But we got beat out by Mimico. They were a good team too. Blain McDonald was playing against us.

 

Gary: Was Fred Conradi involved with that team?

 

Ken: Yes, Fred was quite a guy. He would go all over at his own expense to take us or go with us, or just go to a lot of lacrosse stuff. He was well liked.

 

Gary: Do you know if he ever played lacrosse?

 

Ken: No, he never did play lacrosse. He did a lot for lacrosse though and was inducted into the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame.

 

Gary: In 1947 you played senior in Quebec City.

 

Ken: Yes. We had a good team. Syd Wright coached us. "Nip "O' Hearn, "Whiz" Cunningham, Matt Anthony, and John Kuzmaski were all from St. Catharines. Anthony and Jake Gaudaur were also playing football for the Ottawa Rough Riders and "Punch" Imlach was coaching the Quebec Aces of the A. H. L.

In 1947 the A’s came down to Quebec to play us. It was sort of a weekend thing and we had two good games. They beat us both games but they were good contests and close. They had a little trophy for the guy on our team that had the most points in the two games, and I remember that I came second (laughs).

So anyways, that was the year I came back home and the A’s were still playing. I went to some games. I know the A’s got beat that year and I think they were playing Hamilton. I was at the Haig Bowl for at least one game.

 

Syd Wright,  Donald "Nip" O' Hearn,  Matt Anthony,  John Kuzmaski,  Leo "Wiz" Cunningham,  Rowan Shute,  and  Ken "Weiner" Croft  in  Quebec City  in  1947

  

Gary: Was there any chance you could have played for the A’s when you came back?

 

Ken: No, no. That didn’t even occur to me.

But one thing I do regret though, in 1945 when I was in the army I came home almost every weekend. I was in Brantford to start with, and I could have, if I had extended myself and tried to play for that team. Some of the service guys played, in 1944 Mackie was in the navy and he played. And I often wonder now why I didn’t do that.

 

Gary: So you were back with the Athletics from 1948 to 1951, and they had some pretty good teams.

 

Ken: Yes, they were pretty good teams. The team in 1950, I would say, was one of the best teams. Owen Sound beat us in the finals and the last game was played in Fergus. We would go up there and they would beat us pretty good, and it was the reverse when they came here. It seemed like it was almost a five hour drive to go there and a lot of guys couldn’t go because of work or whatever.

 

Gary: And they decided to play the seventh game somewhere in between and that’s how Fergus was chosen.

 

Ken: Well that was the year that a guy from Owen Sound was the president of the O.L.A. They knew before we did, before we played the seventh game that it was going to be played in Fergus. Well we went there and that was the last year they won. In 1951, a lot of their guys went to Peterborough.

 

Gary: That was a team that would have had Slater and Wootten?

 

Ken: Slater, Wootten and Mason. “Curly” Mason. He was the best face-off man in the league.

We had some good crowds you know. Every year we played then we had good crowds and all we got was a split at that end of the year. In 1944, I got $25 when I played on that team. I didn’t expect anything. That’s what it ended up to and I didn’t ask any questions one way or another, and it was $25 I never had before. Then I never got a dime from the Athletics until 1954.

In 1954, a guy came down from the A's executive, and I hadn’t played for them since ’51, from the clear blue sky he came down to my house and he wanted me to sign for St. Catharines. It was after the ’53 team in Orillia wasn’t going to play in the league because they lost their financial backers.

And I was busy at work and so I said no, I’d rather take overtime and so and so, and I don’t think so. He said, “Well, what if we pay you what you lose?” I said, “What are you talking about?” So anyhow, we messed around a little while and he gave me $75 and I signed. I don't think he had the authority to do that because after that he was not an active A's director.

 

Gary: $75 for the year?

 

Ken: Total. That was it. That was the only amount of money that I got from St. Catharines.

 

Gary: In ‘54?

 

Ken: Yes.

Before that, Doug Cove was coaching in Hamilton and he said, “Come on up. You’ll get $300 and you’ll play for us.” It was ’52, I said I wanted to go, St. Catharines said I couldn’t go, so and so and so and so.

 

Gary: The A’s wouldn’t let you go?

 

Ken: They said, “Too many guys have gone. You’re it, we’re not going to let you go.”

Well, I said I’m not playing.

All these other guys, Wipper, McNulty and others were gone. They never had any problem. So that was a chance I had to get 300 bucks that I didn’t have, so I said okay, I’m not playing.

But I still was throwing the ball and running. I was trying to keep in shape because for some reason I thought, I’m going to be playing. I’m not going to be playing for St. Catharines, but I thought maybe Hamilton would do something. But they didn’t.

So it was more than half way through the schedule and I was up to see a game at the Haig Bowl, Toronto West York was playing. And I went in the dressing room, there was D’Amico and McNulty.

 

Gary: I think Leo Teatro was on that team too.

 

Ken: Teatro and McPhail, and so McPhail said, “I thought you were playing for Hamilton.” “Well they want $600 for my release and nobody is going to pay that.”

 

Gary: That was a lot of money then?

 

Ken: Yes. So anyway, that was a Saturday night and on Sunday I got a call from Toronto, “Be in Hamilton tomorrow night, we have a game.” I said, “What’s going on? You didn’t buy my release did you?” He said, “Yes, we did!” He said, “What do you want?” I said, “$400.” He said, “Be in Hamilton tomorrow night.” So I said, “Okay”

Anyways that was the start of a lot of fun.

 

Gary: And that was in mid-season?

 

Ken: Well yes, and I said to the Toronto guy, “I have summer holidays coming up and I’m going to be missing some games.”  He said, “Well, that’s okay.”  We made an arrangement anyhow. I think I played seven games that year and there had been ten games left.

 

Gary: That Weston team then did well in the play-offs, they took Peterborough to the seventh game in the finals.

 

Ken: We got rained out in Peterborough on a Wednesday night in the seventh game and we were leading at the time. We had to go back on the Thursday, the next night.

We didn’t come home. They took us St. Catharines kids to Toronto and we stayed at the Royal York (laughs). We were 'raggity-assed' kids then.

 

Gary: So you were leading in the seventh game before it was rained out and you had to play the entire game over?

 

Ken: Yes, we had to play the whole game over the next night. And we were leading again with 5 minutes to play in the game. We were leading by three goals, then, Jimmy McNulty got a penalty for tripping. And we never had the ball again until they were three goals ahead of us.

 

Gary: Back then they would sit out the entire two minutes of a penalty?

 

Ken: Yes. And that’s what happened to us in 1950 when we were playing in Fergus. Bill Whittaker (goaltender of the A’s) got a penalty and he was off for two minutes. They allowed us to put anyone in, no pads or anything. He could use a goal-stick and he could have his other stick there too. If he stopped the ball he could use his stick to throw it.

But Whittaker was off for two minutes and that was sort of the end of the game.

 

Gary: Do you remember who went in the net? 

 

Ken: One of the old guys.

 

Gary: How did you end up in Orillia in 1953?

 

Ken: Well it was strange. There was a Member of Parliament in Orillia, I forget his name. He was an old guy and he had money. 

 

Gary: It wasn’t “Bucko” McDonald was it? 

 

Ken: No. We called him the “senator”. He was a gentleman, he would dress with a suit and tie. Every time we saw him he was always dressed up.

We made the arrangements that we would go there and he would pay all the expenses and $25 a game. We had a good following up there in Orillia and we did pretty well that year too. We ended up second or third I think. We had to play Peterborough and they were in first, so we probably finished in third place.

I remember before the playoffs started, I had to go in to see the bank manager to get some money. He was on the executive or something, and I remember sitting in his office and he said, “How do you think we’re going to make out against Peterborough?” 

I lied through my teeth (laughs). I had to make him feel good. Well, you know, we did have a slim chance. Peterborough I don’t think lost a game around here that year.

 

Gary: They were just too strong.

 

Ken: Yes, they were strong.

 

Gary: They were like an all-star team.

 

Ken: Yes. That was the year I did pretty good and I got a chance to go out west with them.

 

Gary: I have Wamper's 1953 stats here and Doug Smith of St. Catharines won the league scoring title and you were second. Ross Powless, another hall-of-famer, was third. Your team-mate Leo Teatro was fourth, Slater playing for Peterborough. Ike Hildebrand was in there too. He was a great player.

 

Ken: In 1944 when the A’s won, Hildebrand came from the west and won the most valuable player award for that series. And their team got beat.

 

Gary: And he was just a kid then too.

 

Ken: Yes, he was just eighteen.

You could tell Ike was good. “Gus” Madsen was checking him and he had his hands full checking this kid because he was so fast and tricky.

 

Gary: Did you know Roy Morton fairly well?

 

Ken: Yes, I recently made a presentation about lacrosse to the retired G. M. salaried people and I mentioned that Roy Morton was the first guy in the O. L. A. to get 1,000 points. He worked at G. M. and we actually worked together sometimes. He was an old hand there, well-known and well-liked. I always had a lot of respect for Roy. He was very unassuming.

 

Gary: Ken, we’ve talked about a lot of the great players from your playing days, who would you say was the best player you ever saw?

 

Ken: I know I played against some great players and they’re all in the Hall of Fame, and that makes a statement. If you were with them or against them, you knew how good they were.

Every one of the good players had a distinction. Kenny Dixon was one of the best. He was a very subtle type. He wasn’t a very outgoing type of player, but the first thing you knew he had three goals against you. Where was he? You didn’t even see him out there.

Carl Madsen on defense, he had control. He was the lieutenant or captain. He was it. He just seemed to make the game go for you or against you, and he was unassuming too. 

Bill Isaacs, I watched him. Boy, he was slippery. He had a stick, I don’t know, somebody must have made his sticks special because they weren’t any wider than that (holding his fingers about four inches apart). They would beat him up to try to get the ball from him and I’d see him laugh a lot of times after he got beat up, as if to say, ‘you didn’t get the ball and I got a goal or something.’ He was well respected by the guys.

"Scotty" MacPhail, he was a crowd pleaser, and a good lacrosse player, and rough. He had his teeth knocked out and he would go along before the game, during the game or during a lull in the game and talk to all the people like he knew them, then grin and show the big gap where his teeth had been. Everybody either loved him or hated him.

It would take too long to name all the really good lacrosse players of my time and I'm sure there were a lot of them that I lost track of after I finished playing. Lacrosse has always been a great game and I was fortunate to have played with and against some of the best players. The game today is different and the sticks, "tupperware", are different. The wooden sticks we got hit with, really hurt and did body damage and scars which showed up when we got older.

 

Gary: Thanks Ken for all your lacrosse recollections today.

 

photos courtesy of Ken Croft

INTERVIEWS