Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Manitoba sports world loses legend

Addison enshrined in province's hockey and baseball halls of fame

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BILL ADDISON, one of the province's most influential sports executives and organizers, passed away Tuesday night.

He celebrated his 100th birthday last April. One of the events to mark the milestone was Addison walking on his own to centre ice at MTS Centre to drop the ceremonial first puck at an AHL game.

"He wanted no help to do it, because he knew he could. He was a very proud man and a very proud hockey guy," said colleague Frank McKinnon, the former commissioner of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League.

Addison, a Carberry native, spent 21 years as commissioner of the league.

The former president of the Manitoba Amateur Hockey Association (1967-70) and founding member of the Manitoba Sports Federation was inducted into the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame's first class in 1985 and into the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame in 1993.

McKinnon remembers Addison as "a prince of a gentleman. He was as honest as the day is long."

In the hockey world, Addison may be best remembered as the manager of the last Manitoba team to win the Memorial Cup, the 1958-59 Winnipeg Braves.

The Braves, featuring such players as Ted Green, Ernie Wakely, Laurie Langrell, Howie Hughes, Gary Bergman, Bobby Leiter and Wayne Larkin, ousted the Scotty Bowman-coached Peterborough TPT's that spring.

"I watched that team win in 1959," McKinnon said. "He was very proud of that, always."

The man who succeeded Addison as the MJHL commissioner, current Manitoba Hockey Foundation president Gary Cribbs, had a long relationship with Addison, especially over a cribbage board.

"The day I met him in Brandon at an MAHA meeting, he asked me if I could play the game, and we played crib once a week right up through December," Cribbs said. "We always played for a two-dollar bill, and you had to win four straight to get the 'Queen'.

Cribbs said Addison loved baseball as much as hockey.

"He's in the Manitoba Baseball Hall of Fame, too," Cribbs said. "Baseball is really what he loved to talk about."

McKinnon said Addison always provided him with wise counsel when he took over the MJHL job that Addison had done so well for more than two decades. "He ran the league with authority, but he was also a very understanding man," McKinnon said. "He was a great help to me. "

Addison's sports-managing career began in 1925 when, at the ripe old age of 17, he was named player/manager of the Carman baseball team. In 1956, he was manager of the Canadian PONY League baseball champions, the Winnipeg Garry Orioles.

In 1988, he was recognized by the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association for his contribution to the growth of amateur hockey, and then-Sport Minister Jim Ernst presented him with a Manitoba Gold Medal for outstanding community service.

This weekend, including Thursday night at MTS Centre, a moment of silence will be observed in Addison's memory before all MJHL games, current commissioner Kim Davis said.

A memorial service for Addison is planned for Wednesday at 1 p.m. at Westwood Community Church, 401 Westwood Drive.

 

-- Staff

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 9, 2009 C1

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