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Foster Hewitt History
By Eric Zweig (firstname.lastname@example.org)
According to most information, Foster Hewitt is reputed to have made his first hockey broadcast from Toronto's Mutual Street Arena on March 22, 1923. The game in question is said to have been an Eastern Canada semifinal between Kitchener and the Parkdale Canoe Club at the Mutual Street Arena in Toronto. The winner was then to face the Toronto Granites for a berth in the Allan Cup final. (Many people have even heard an audio broadcast of this event, though that broadcast was a recreation ... as stated in the notes to a two-record Hockey Night in Canada commemorative album issued circa 1971.) However, Foster Hewitt did not make his first broadcoast on March 22, 1923, he actually made it five weeks earlier, on Februay 16, 1923.
The story of Foster Hewitt's first broadcast was perhaps first told by Foster Hewitt himself in his 1967 autobiography, Foster Hewitt: In His Own Words. It has been repeated ever since, most notably in Scott Young's biography, Hello Canada: The Life and Times of Foster Hewitt. It is often claimed that Foster Hewitt's broadcast on March 22, 1923, was hockey's very first radio broadcast. (Hewitt himself never actually claimed this, but never denied it either.) However, Young and many others correctly credit Norman Albert with making the first hockey broadcast on February 8, 1923. Still, this hockey first is often overlooked behind the misinformation about Hewitt.
Many hockey researchers have long been aware of inconsistencies in the Foster Hewitt story. For that reason, the date is sometimes listed slightly differently, and the game is sometimes credited as an intermediate game, not a senior game. One major inconsistency in Hewitt's story lies in the fact that, on March 22, 1923, the Allan Cup final had already taken place! In fact, on that every night, the Toronto Granites defeated the University of Saskatchewan for the championship in Winnipeg. No games at all were played at Toronto's Mutual Street Arena that night!
In checking through two of the major Toronto newspapers of the day, (the Star and the Globe), it becomes obvious that neither Parkdale or Kitchener qualified for the Ontario Hockey Association playoffs in 1923. In fact, the Hamilton Tigers defeated Kitchener on February 23, 1923 to set up that year's only OHA playoff series between the Tigers and the Granites. The Toronto team (who would represent Canada at the first Winter Olympics in 1924) beat the Tigers, then defeated the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the Northern OHA before facing the Ottawa St. Patricks in the Eastern Canada final. They wrapped up that series on March 15, 1923. The Granites never faced Kitchener or Parkdale in the playoffs because neither team qualified for the postseason. The last game between Kitchener and Parkdale in 1923 was a regular-season game played on February 7.
Later in his life, Foster Hewitt admitted that he may have had some of the details wrong about his first broadcast. For one thing, he thought the Toronto team involved may not have been the Parkdate Canoe Club, but rather the Toronto Argonauts hockey club. As it turns out, those two teams met on February 16, 1923. The details of that game match almost perfectly the details Hewitt had long provided for his first game. More importanly, the Toronto Star (which owned radio station CFCA,) confirms in its pages that the game that night between the Argos and Kitchener was indeed broadcast on their station. (The Star of February 9, 1923, also confirms that Norman Albert made hockey's first broadcast on CFCA on February 8.) Though Foster Hewitt is not mentioned by name in the Toronto Star until April 10, the story on that date makes it relatively clear which games constitued his earliest broadcasts.)
Because of the confusion over Hewitt's date, and the fact that Norman Albert is so often ignored, Pete Parker of Regina is often credited as making hockey's first broadcast. He called a Western Canada Hockey League playoff game between Regina and Edmonton on March 14, 1923. While this was likely the first complete broadcast of a professional hockey game, it was not hockey's first broadcast.
Below is a recap of significant early hockey broadcast dates, as well as all broadcasts made by Toronto's CFCA in 1923. (The source for these dates come mainly from the Toronto Star, though the Globe and Mail, Winnipeg Free Press and Regina Leader from Feb/Mar 1923 were also consulted.
February 8, 1923: First radio broadcast of a hockey game made by CFCA in Toronto. (The station was owned by the Toronto Star.) Broadcast featured a recap of the first and second periods, followed by live play-by-play of the third. North Toronto beat Midland 16–4. Norman Albert was the broadcaster.
February 14, 1923: First radio broadcast of an NHL hockey game made by CFCA in Toronto. Broadcast featured recap of the first and second periods, followed by live play-by-play of the third. Toronto St. Pats beat Ottawa Senators 6-4. Norman Albert was very likely the broadcaster.
February 16, 1923: Foster Hewitt makes his first radio broadcast. Broadcast features recap of the first and second periods, followed by live play-by-play of the third period and overtime. Toronto Argonauts beat Kitchener Greenshirts 5-3. Game featured future Hall of Famers Roy Worters (Argos) and George Hainsworth (Kitchener) in goal, as well as another future NHLer, Duke McCurry.
February 22, 1923: Winnipeg radio station CJCG (owned by the Manitoba Free Press) makes the first full broadcast of all 60 minutes of a hockey game. Winnipeg Falcons defeat Port Arthur 4-1. Broadcaster is unknown. This game has been long overlooked.
March 14, 1923: Pete Parker called a Regina-Edmonton WCHL playoff game for Regina radio station CKCK (owned by the Regina Leader newspaper). With Foster Hewitt’s first broadcast erroneously reported as being on March 22, 1923 (and with Norman Albert seldom recognized), this game is often reported as being hockey’s first radio broadcast. It is also often credited as being the first broadcast of a full game, but it comes three weeks after the long overlooked broadcast from Winnipeg. However, it is the first full broadcast of a professional hockey game.
March 22, 1923: This is the date usually attributed to Foster Hewitt's first broadcast. In fact, it was the date of the last broadcast made by CFCA during the 1922–23 hockey season. CFCA broadcast “live” reports of the Toronto Granites Allan Cup victory over the University of Saskatchewan, which were telegraphed to Toronto directly from the game played in Winnipeg. W.A. Hewitt provided the “play-by-play” to a telegraph operator. It is likely that Foster Hewitt read these reports on the air in Toronto.
March 29 and/or 31, 1923: Dick Rice, on Edmonton radio station CJCA (owned by the Edmonton Journal), reportedly used telegrams sent from a reporter at rinkside in Vancouver to broadcast Stanley Cup play between the Edmonton Eskimos and the Ottawa Senators.
The CFCA hockey broadcast schedule for February–March 1923 (All games broadcast from the Mutual Street Arena — except were noted. All featured summaries of the first and second period, followed by live play-by-play of the third.)
Feb. 8 – Midland 4 vs. North Toronto 16 (OHA intermediate)* Feb. 14 – Ottawa Senators 4 vs. Toronto St. Pats 6 (NHL)** Feb. 16 – Kitchener 3 vs. Toronto Argonauts 5 (OHA senior)# Feb. 23 – U of T Varsity 1 vs. Toronto Granites 3 (OHA senior)# Feb. 24 - Montreal Canadiens 3 vs Toronto St. Pats (NHL)** Feb. 27 – Hamilton Tigers 2 vs. Granites 4 (OHA playoff)** Mar. 2 - Toronto Granites 2 at Hamilton Tigers 2 (OHA playoff) Mar. 3 – Hamilton Tigers 3 vs. Toronto St. Pats 4 (NHL) Mar. 5 – Ottawa Senators 0 vs. Toronto St. Pats 2 (NHL) Mar. 6 – Sault Ste. Marie 7 vs. Stratford 1 (OHA playoff) Mar. 8 – Sault Ste. Marie 3 vs. Granites 2 (OHA playoff)# Mar. 10 – Sault Ste. Marie 1 vs. Granites 5 (OHA playoff) Mar. 13 – Ottawa St. Patricks 2 vs. Granites 1 (Eastern final) Mar. 15 – Ottawa St. Patricks 1 vs. Granites 7 (Eastern final) Mar. 20 – Granites 6 vs. University of Saskatchewan 1 (Allan Cup. Broadcast of telegraphed reports from Winnipeg) Mar. 22 – Granites 5 vs. University of Saskatchewan 1 (Allan Cup. Broadcast of telegraphed reports from Winnipeg)
- (*) - Norman Albert definitely called this game.
- (**) - Norman Albert very likely to have called this game.
- (#) - Foster Hewitt definitely called this game.
NOTE: Norman Albert is known to have called only four games, so it is very possible that Foster Hewitt called every game listed except Feb. 8, Feb. 14, Feb. 24 and Feb. 27.—The preceding unsigned comment was added by 18.104.22.168 (talk • contribs) 11:04, April 17, 2006.
- The February 8 date for the first game of CFCA is confirmed in the Toronto Star of February 9 on page 12. I can't make out all the details and don't see credit given to Norman Albert for the play-by-play. He wrote the story covering the game in the Star, but that doesn't mean he handled play-by-play. Maybe that information is in the part I can't read, but I don't see it here. --Walor 19:55, 12 March 2007 (UTC)
From Eric Zweig ... Page 9 of the "Toronto Star" on February 9 has a story headlined HOCKEY OVER RADIO NEW STAR FEATURE. Though it is very hard to read, Norman Albert is confirmed as the man who reported the game. He is mentioned by name at least three times. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 22.214.171.124 (talk) 19:31, 22 August 2008 (UTC)