How I Met "Harold" & "The King"

Mitch. Mitchell.Correspondent IDecember 16, 2008

It was a cold Friday winter night in the mining town of Copper Cliff Ontario Canada,1967.

In those day's of course in Northern Ontario hockey fans would travel far and wide and through any kind of storm to see a hockey game,especially an

I knew the wonderful "Pappin" family, especially Jimmy Pappin's dad, Gus who was a fine gentleman.

I met Mr. Pappin on a Friday night at The Royal Canadian Legion in Copper Cliff.

At this time of course young Jimmy was playing for The Leafs,the last time as we know  they won it all.

As we were sitting having a cool one "Gus" said Mitch would you care to go to a Leaf game tomorrow night in Toronto? Needless to say I just about choked on my beer.

I said:I would dearly love to,ok Gus says we will pick you up at 7:00 a.m. in the morning,a cold minus 20 Saturday morning.

So off we went to see "Jimmy Pappin" and The Toronto Maple Leafs,a dream come true.

We get to Toronto early afternoon, check into a hotel, have early dinner then off to The Gardens, a sight I could only dream about.

Down under the seating area,where the refreshments were being sold were all of the players of past years,the goosies came out big-time just seeing those lovely pictures.

Back to our seats the game line-up was being announced and everybody was getting into the game mood.

When the P/A announcer announced Jimmy's name I looked at Jimmy's dad and I have never seen a father being so proud of his son in all of my life,just a wonderful thing to see.

Just coming to the end of the first period Mr.Pappin pointed out to me:Over in that corner of The Gardens is where Harold Ballard and "King" Clancy have their little box in the wall (seat).

I said Gus: I have got to get over there some how and get their autographs on my programme,his answer was:"You will have a hard time doing that".

Now I am on a mission,armed with my programme I started through the crowd,over the seats, spilling drinks, people screaming at me, security after me, and finally at my destination.

Face to face with Harold & The King, "Now what?" I mused.

Mr.Ballard spoke first in his deep rough voice:What can I do for you lad? I said I would like to have your autograph as well as Mr. Clancy's on my programme.

Harold said, "Well to start off with you should not be over here this is private, by the way, what is your name, where are ya from, and who are ya with?"

So I gave him all of my personal information that he requested and when I told him I was with Jimmy Pappin's dad,he said holy Jesus,you are with Jimmy's dad!

No problem he said, lad: "Where do you want us to sign this thing?" Grabbing my programme they both signed on Mr. Ballard's forehead:A picture of Harold that was in the programme. 

After thanking both of those two fine hockey gentleman,I made my way back to the seat and enjoyed the rest of the game.Mission accomplished, thanks to Mr. Pappin.

To this very day I have that programme of 1967 and the signatures: A Toronto Star newspaper and on the sports page a picture of Dave Keon washing his face in The Stanley Cup.

We may all get old and grey: But nobody can take your memories of 1967.