“Does your Thursday luncheon group ever get into hockey and baseball trivia?” Paddy asked.
He was referring to a group that meets every Thursday for lunch at Windfield’s Restaurant in the Toronto suburb of Don Mills. The group is called Thursday’s Children and is composed of people with a hockey and broadcasting background.
The regular attendees are: Frank Selke Jr., who needs no introduction; Pete Conacher, former NHL player and member of hockey’s Royal Family, the Conachers (Charlie was his father, Lionel and Roy his uncles, and Brian is his first cousin); David Rae and Art O’Connor, former advertising executives who were heavily involved with Hockey Night In Canada; Doug Beeforth, former president of Sportsnet and currently quarterbacking broadcast activity for the 2015 Pan-Am games; Rick Briggs-Jude, a free-lance television producer who produces a lot of Blue Jay games; John Shannon, former executive producer of Hockey Night in Canada and currently an on-air personality with Sportsnet; and me.
Ralph Mellanby, retired broadcast executive, and NHL Vice-president Jim Gregory are charter members but don’t often attend; Ralph, because he lives at Niagara-on-the-Lake, and Jim, because his job with the NHL still takes up most of his time. Frank Bonello, who played with the famous Whitby Dunlops world championship team, was GM of twoToronto Marlboros Memorial Cup winning teams, and was head of NHL Central Scouting, drops in from time to time.
“We get into trivia occasionally,” I replied, “and it’s usually at a pretty high level.”
“Give me a couple of hockey and baseball examples,” said Paddy, “and see how I do.”
“OK,” I agreed, “let’s start with hockey. Name seven brother acts that have played in the NHL, one member of which scored at least 50 goals and one member of which played for the Montreal Canadiens”
“Could they both have played for the Canadiens?” Paddy reasonably asked.
“Yes,” I told him.
He thought for a minute and then asked another clarifying question, “If one of them both scored fifty goals and played for the Canadiens, does that count?”
“Yes,” I answered again.
Paddy thought for a long time and finally said, “The only ones I can think of are the Richards and the Redmonds.”
“That’s not bad,” I told him, “the others are: Pavel and Valeri Bure; Marcel and Gilbert Dionne; Phil and Tony Esposito; Claude and Jean Pronovost; and, Pierre and Sylvain Turgeon”
“Good God!” Paddy exclaimed, “That is a pretty high level of trivia. I should have gotten the Espositos, and with a lot of thought might have come up with the Turgeons, and Bures; but I didn’t realize Gilbert and Marcel Dionne were brothers. And who in the hell is Claude Pronovost?”
“Claude Pronovost is a goalie who played two games for the Canadiens back in the late 50s,” I explained. “He also played a game for the Boston Bruins a couple of years earlier when their goalie, Long John Henderson, arrived in Montreal with no skates and none could be found that were big enough to fit him.”
“Lay the next one on me,” Paddy ventured.
“There have been sixteen Maple Leaf coaches who also played for the Leafs,” I said, “how many can you name?”
Paddy began to count them off on his fingers, “George Armstrong; Red Kelly; Ron Wilson; Floyd Smith; Hap Day; King Clancy; Joe Primeau; Pat Quinn…..” Then he paused.
“You’re half way there,” I said.
After thinking for a few more minutes he came up with Howie Meeker and Johnny McLellan.
“Would the list include Joe Crozier, Dan Nykoluk and Dan Maloney?” I teased.
“If you say so,” he muttered.
“I do,” I assured him. “There are three more. Any guesses?”
“No,” he said after a little more thought.
“There was Art Duncan, but that was away back, so I’m not surprised you didn’t get him. Then there’s Dick Duff,” I told him.
“When the hell did Dick Duff ever coach the Leafs?” he fumed.
“Two games in 1980,” I informed him.
“How many left?” he asked.
“Just one,” I answered.
“Who?” he asked.
“It’s one you should get,” I told him, “so I’ll give you some more time. Do you want the baseball questions now?”
“Sure,” he said.
“OK,” I said, “I’ll start with my all-time favorite baseball trivia question. No one has ever gotten this without being given clues.”
“Fire away,” Paddy challenged me.
“There’ve only been four players with ten or more letters in their last names who have hit forty or more home runs in a season. Who are they?” I asked.
Paddy paused, stared at the ceiling for awhile, and then started counting on his fingers. He came up with two names. “Yastzremski and Kluszewski,” he said.
“Right; two to go,” I told him.
After a fairly long period of silently staring at the ceiling he said, “Clue, please.”
“One National Leaguer and one American Leaguer,” I told him.
More silence and ceiling staring, then, “Another clue, please.”
“Two Italian names,” I told him.
After some more silence he gave up.
“Roy Campanella and Rico Petrocelli,” I told him.
“Campanella wasn’t Italian, he was black!” Paddy practically shouted.
“I said an Italian name, not an Italian,” I pointed out.
“All right,” a calmer Paddy said, “next question.”
“Easy one,” I said, “what number has been retired by the most teams.”
“Easy, my ass,” said Paddy. “I have no idea.”
“Number 42,” I said. “It was Jackie Robinson’s number and every team but the Yankees has retired it. The Yankees will retire it when Mariano Rivera, who was wearing the number when Major League Baseball issued the retirement edict, retires.”
“That’s a damn trick question,” Paddy fumed. “Let me ask you one, then. What’s the second-most retired number?”
“We actually had that question at one of our lunches,” I told him. “It’s number 5: Joe DiMaggio, Brooks Robinson, Johnny Bench, Hank Greenberg; and George Brett.”
“All right,” Paddy said as he got up, “who’s the damn former Leaf player who has also coached them that I missed?”
“Randy Carlyle,” I said.
Paddy’s response is not printable.