Even at the ripe age of 100, former legendary Toronto Star sports columnist Milt Dunnell continues to amaze, as a York Mills field was renamed in his honour last month.
Field Two at Bond Park was renamed ‘Milt Dunnell Field’ in a ceremony on June 10. Approximately six years after Dunnell retired from sports writing, sports reporter Dave Perkins approached the city looking to recognize Dunnell’s achievements by renaming a field in his honour.
“This is very deserving and he is such a humble man that I was wondering if he was going to show,” said family friend Donna Higgins from London, Ontario. “It’s great to see such a big turnout and to hear the praise from everyone who spoke about Milt.”
People in attendance included Paul Godfrey, CEO, Toronto Blue Jays, Toronto Sun columnist George Gross, TSN’s Brian Williams, former Blue Jay executive Paul Beeston, Milt Dunnell Jr., and Toronto Star publisher Michael Goldbloom. But it was Perkins who was the real driving force of the honour.
“This couldn’t have happened without Dave (Perkins) as he really worked hard and you can’t help but to admire Milt for all he has done.” said Goldbloom. “Milt loves baseball and kids so we knew this was a great way to honour him.”
The Hall Of Fame journalist, who was affectionately known as ‘Mr. Sports’ or ‘Uncle Miltie’, first crafted his writing during the 1920s with the Stratford Beacan Herald newspaper before joining the Star. Dunnell wrote five articles per week until 1970 when he cut back to three, before retiring at the age of 94.
He has collected many prestigious awards in his field, including induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1984, and the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 1991. He was well known as Canada’s top sports reporter for more than half a century.
Dunnell, who still loves playing blackjack at Casino Rama, covered many great athletes throughout his career, including Howie Morenz, Joe Louis, Wayne Gretzky and Mike Tyson. To commemorate Dunnell’s 100th birthday last December, the Toronto Star reprinted ten of the articles composed by the man who was described as “a beacon of classic sports journalism,” by the Toronto Sun’s George Gross.
In an amazing show of memory, Perkins said Dunnell was able to recount the lead for six of the ten articles. They included stories about the legendary fight between Canadian George Chuvalo and Muhammad Ali at Maple Leaf Gardens, and the historic 1972 Summit hockey series between Canada and the USSR.
Sitting in his wheelchair and proudly wearing a Toronto Maple Leafs baseball team hat, Dunnell was given a silver plaque to mark his achievements in the sports industry.
“Some busy people took the time out to come and say a few words on Milt’s behalf and with all his modesty, you can’t help but be an admirer,” said Perkins. “This is really well deserved.”
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