|Nickname(s)||The Little General|
|Date of birth:||October 14, 1938|
|Place of birth:||Fairchance, Pennsylvania|
|Date of death:||September 18, 2008(aged 69)|
|Place of death:||Hamilton, Ontario|
|Height:||5 ft 10 in (178 cm)|
|Weight:||185 lb (84 kg)|
|Ottawa Rough Riders
Career highlights and awards
|CFL All-Star:||1970, 1973, 1975, 1976|
|CFL West All-Star:||1966, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1973, 1975, 1976|
|Awards:||1970 - CFL's Most Outstanding Player Award
1976 - CFL's Most Outstanding Player Award
1977 - Tom Pate Memorial Award
1996 Annis Stukus Trophy
1998 Annis Stukus Trophy
2008 CFL Commissioner's Award
Ronald "Ron" Lancaster (October 14, 1938 – September 18, 2008) was one of the pre-eminent quarterbacks of the Canadian Football League during his playing career; after his retirement as a player, he was also coach and general manager in the same league, and a sports announcer for CBC Television. At the time of his death, he was the Senior Director of Football Operations of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. He is enshrined in the Canadian Football Hall of Fame (1982), the Canada's Sports Hall of Fame (1985) and the Wittenberg University Athletic Hall of Honour (1985).
Lancaster was born in the Pittsburgh area industrial town of Fairchance, Pennsylvania but moved to nearby Clairton, Pennsylvania as a young boy. At the time of his death, his mother still resided in Clairton.
Lancaster was a talented quarterback by the time he graduated from Clairton High School, but due to his small 5′5″ (165 cm) stature, he was ignored by most college scouts. He attended tiny Wittenberg University and again showed talent, but no NFL scouts showed any interest; however, a scout for the Ottawa Rough Riders of the Canadian Football League liked his on-field leadership, and Lancaster was signed by Ottawa.
During his rookie season with Ottawa in 1960, while he shared the quarterbacking duties with another future Hall of Famer, Russ Jackson, Ottawa won the Grey Cup. He spent two more years with Ottawa, but after a losing season in 1962 (6–7–1), Lancaster was traded to the Saskatchewan Roughriders. (He would have a losing record only one other time in his career, in his last season as a player.)
It was with Saskatchewan that "The Little General" found his stride. In 16 seasons with Saskatchewan (1963–1978), he led the team into the playoffs 14 consecutive times, and made it to the CFL's Western Football Conference final 12 times. During that period, Saskatchewan represented the West in the Grey Cup five times (1966, 1967, 1969, 1972, and 1976); however the Roughriders won the big game only once, in 1966, when they defeated the Ottawa Rough Riders 29–14.
Over Lancaster's 16 seasons with the Roughriders, they won 170 games with him at quarterback, and had only one losing record, 4–11–1 in 1978, which was Lancaster's final season as a quarterback.
He was the first quarterback in CFL history to reach 50,000 career passing yards, was a finalist for the Schenley Award as most outstanding player in 1966, 1970 and 1976, (winning in 1970 and 1976), was an All-Canadian in 1970, 1973, 1975 and 1976 and a Western all-star in 1966, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1973, 1975 and 1976.
He was so dominant as a quarterback, that on the day that he died, which was 30 years after he retired from playing, he was still ranked in the top 3 in career stats in a number of categories:
- second in touchdown passes (333, surpassed only by Damon Allen) [Eight months after Lancaster's death, Anthony Calvillo moved past Lancaster into second place.]
- third in pass completions (3,384)
- third in pass attempts (6,233)
- third in yards passing (50,535)
Lancaster was a player-coach in the 1977 and 1978 seasons, serving as Saskatchewan's offensive co-ordinator.
Lancaster became Saskatchewan's head coach immediately after his 1978 playing season but found "the glorious fifties and sixties were over, and he was the first Roughrider coach in sixteen years who did not have Ron Lancaster at quarterback." The Green Riders finished 2–14 in consecutive seasons and Lancaster would not coach again for 11 years.
After serving as a colour commentator for The CFL on CBC from 1981-1990, he returned to the coaching ranks when he was named 12th head coach in Edmonton Eskimos history on February 4, 1991. He coached the Eskimos from 1991–1997, amassing an 83–42 regular season record and a Grey Cup win in 1993. He passed Hugh Campbell for first place on the Eskimos' list for coaching wins October 27, 1996.
Lancaster became the 17th head coach in Hamilton Tiger-Cat history on November 26, 1997. He coached the Tiger-Cats from 1998–2003. He took the team to the Grey Cup twice (1998, 1999) winning it in 1999. On July 10, 2006, Ron Lancaster was re-hired as the teams head coach on an interim basis after the firing of coach Greg Marshall.
Lancaster’s 142 career regular-season wins place him fourth on the CFL’s career regular season wins list.
CFL coaching record
|Team||Year||Regular Season||Post Season|
|SSK||1979||2||14||0||.125||5th in West Conference||–||–||Missed Playoffs|
|SSK||1980||2||14||0||.125||5th in West Conference||–||–||Missed Playoffs|
|SSK Total||4||28||0||.125||0 West Division
|-||-||0 Grey Cups|
|EDM||1991||12||6||0||.667||1st in West Division||0||1||Lost in Division Finals|
|EDM||1992||10||8||0||.556||2nd in West Division||1||1||Lost in Division Finals|
|EDM||1993||12||6||0||.667||2nd in West Division||3||0||Won Grey Cup|
|EDM||1994||13||5||0||.722||2nd in West Division||0||1||Lost in Division Semi-Finals|
|EDM||1995||13||5||0||.722||2nd in North Division||1||1||Lost in Division Finals|
|EDM||1996||11||7||0||.611||2nd in West Division||2||1||Lost in Grey Cup|
|EDM||1997||12||6||0||.667||1st in West Division||0||1||Lost in Division Finals|
|EDM Total||83||43||0||.659||2 West Division
|7||6||1 Grey Cup|
|HAM||1998||12||5||1||.694||1st in East Division||1||1||Lost in Grey Cup|
|HAM||1999||11||7||0||.611||2nd in East Division||3||0||Won Grey Cup|
|HAM||2000||9||9||0||.500||2nd in East Division||0||1||Lost in Division Semi-Finals|
|HAM||2001||11||7||0||.611||2nd in East Division||1||1||Lost in Division Finals|
|HAM||2002||7||11||0||.389||3rd in East Division||–||–||Missed Playoffs|
|HAM||2003||1||17||0||.056||4th in East Division||–||–||Missed Playoffs|
|HAM||2006||4||10||0||.286||4th in East Division||–||–||Missed Playoffs|
|HAM Total||55||66||1||.455||1 East Division
|4||3||1 Grey Cup|
|Total||142||137||1||.509||2 West Division
1 East Division
|11||9||2 Grey Cups|
CBC Television invited Lancaster to become a colour commentator on CFL broadcasts in 1980. He was part of a trio that included Don Wittman doing the play-by-play and former Argonaut head coach Leo Cahill doing colour commentary along with Lancaster. He was with the CBC from 1980–1991 and was a member of the CBC team at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, Korea as the play-by-play broadcaster for basketball.
Illness and death
In 2004, Lancaster was diagnosed with bladder cancer, but appeared to have beaten it after treatment. In 2008, he was diagnosed with lung cancer and immediately started treatment. Lancaster was positive in his outlook, stating "Five years ago, I survived a battle with cancer, and now we have another battle on our hands. The goal is to get this taken care of and move forward just like I did five years ago. We will approach this the same way as then and I thank you all in advance for your kindness as I am on my path to recovery." Six weeks later, on September 18, 2008, Lancaster died of a heart attack.
He was survived by his wife, Bev and his three children Lana, Ron, and Bob, and four grandchildren.
- "The Little General: The Life and Times of Ron Lancaster". CBC-TV. Retrieved December 4, 2008.
- Henshaw, Jim (November 20, 2007). "The Legion of Decency: Rider Pride". Retrieved December 4, 2008.
- "Life and Times: Ron Lancaster". CBC News. Retrieved September 21, 2008.
- "Ron Lancaster". Front Office Team. Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Archived from the original on September 18, 2008. Retrieved September 18, 2008.
- Mullick, Rajeev. CFL Legends: Ron Lancaster. Retrieved January 17, 2006.
- 2009 Canadian Football League Facts, Figures & Records, Canadian Football League Properties/Publications, Toronto, Ontario, ISBN 978-0-9739425-4-5, p.234
- Masters, Mark (August 6, 2008). "Lancaster facing another fight with cancer". National Post (Canada). Retrieved September 18, 2008.[dead link]
- Maki, Allan (August 19, 2008). "Lancaster cast a long shadow in the CFL as a Hall of Fame player, coach, GM and broadcaster". Globe and Mail (Canada). Retrieved September 19, 2008.
- "CFL fans remember Ron Lancaster". CBC Sports. September 19, 2008. Retrieved September 25, 2008.
- "CFL icon Lancaster dies at 69". CBC Sports. September 18, 2008. Retrieved September 18, 2008.
- "Als' Calvillo, Argonauts' Dorsey take CFL honours". Toronto Star. November 20, 2008. Retrieved November 21, 2008.
- CFL Facts, Figures and Records 2007.
- Official WFC, EFC and CFL statistics 1960 to 1978.
- The Canadian Encyclopedia
|Grey Cup winning Head Coach
87th Grey Cup, 1999
81st Grey Cup, 1993