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Hamilton Tiger-Cats

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Hamilton Tiger-Cats

Hamilton Tiger-Cats

Hamilton Tiger-Cats logo

Founded 1950
Based in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Home field Ivor Wynne Stadium (1950–2012)
Alumni Stadium (interim) (2013)
Ron Joyce Stadium (interim) (2014)
Tim Hortons Field (2014–Present)
League Canadian Football League
Division East Division
Nickname(s) Ticats, Cats, Tabbies
Head coach Kent Austin
General manager Kent Austin
Owner(s) Bob Young
Grey Cup wins 8 (1953, 1957, 1963, 1965
1967, 1972, 1986, 1999)
Current uniform
Colours Black, gold, and white
Mascot(s) TC, Stripes & Pigskin Pete

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats are a professional Canadian football team based in Hamilton, Ontario, founded in 1950 with the merger of the Hamilton Tigers and the Hamilton Wildcats.[1] They are currently members of the East Division of the Canadian Football League (CFL). The Tiger-Cats play their home games at Tim Hortons Field.[2][3]

Since the 1950 merger, the team has won the Grey Cup championship eight times, most recently in 1999. The Hamilton Tiger-Cats Football Club also recognizes all Grey Cups won by Hamilton-based teams as part of their history, which would bring their win total to 15 (the Hamilton Tigers with five, Hamilton Flying Wildcats with one and Hamilton Alerts also with one).[4] However, the CFL does not recognize these wins under one franchise, rather as the individual franchises that won them.[5] If one includes their historical lineage, Hamilton football clubs won league championships in every decade of the 20th century, a feat matched by only one other North American franchise in professional sports, the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings of the International League. Neither of these teams won a championship in the first decade of the 21st century.

In their first forty years of existence, the Tiger-Cats were a model franchise, qualifying for the playoffs in all but three of those years and winning seven Grey Cup championships. They are one of only six teams in the modern era to win the Grey Cup at home and were the first to accomplish this when they did it in 1972. However, since 1990, they have missed the playoffs on eleven occasions and have won just one Grey Cup in 1999. Their lowest moment came when they lost a Canadian Football League record 17 games in one season with just one win during their 2003 season.[6] The franchise has started to return to prominence after qualifying for the post-season in four of the past five seasons, including a loss in the 101st Grey Cup and again in the 102nd Grey Cup.

Team facts

Founded: 1950, a merger of the Hamilton Tigers and the Hamilton Wildcats.[7]
Formerly known as: The Hamilton Tigers and Hamilton Wildcats.
Helmet design: Black background with a leaping tiger
Uniform colours: Black, Gold and White
Home stadium: Ivor Wynne Stadium (1950–2012), Hamilton Amateur Athletic Association Grounds (1872–1949), Alumni Stadium (interim) (2013), Tim Hortons Field (2014–present)
Current Owner: Bob Young
Eastern regular season championships: 22—1950, 1952, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1967, 1970, 1972, 1980, 1981, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1989, 1998, 1999, 2014
Eastern Division championships: 19—1953, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1967, 1972, 1980, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1989, 1998, 1999, 2013,[5] 2014
Grey Cup championships: 8— 1953, 1957, 1963, 1965, 1967, 1972, 1986, 1999[5]
Main Rivals: Toronto Argonauts (see Labour Day Classic), Winnipeg Blue Bombers (met eight times in Grey Cup games, seven other times in playoffs)
2014 Regular Season Record: 9 wins, 9 losses, 5 ties.


The owner/caretaker of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats Football Club is businessman Bob Young, who purchased the club on October 7, 2003. He was born in Ancaster, Ontario, Canada and graduated from Victoria College at the University of Toronto. His fortune was earned in the software industry and he is currently the owner and CEO of Lulu (company), a self-publishing web-site.[8]

Executive committee

As of 2011, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats Executive Committee consists of three people: Bob Young, Caretaker; Scott Mitchell, President; and Doug Rye, Executive Vice President.

Franchise history

The "Tigers" of Hamilton, Ontario circa 1906.

Although the current Hamilton Tiger-Cats were only founded in 1950, football in Hamilton goes back much further than that.[9] The history of Hamilton Tiger-Cats Football Club can be traced back to November 3, 1869 in a room above George Lee’s Fruit Store, when the Hamilton Football Club was formed.[10] The Hamilton football club played their first game on December 18, 1869 against the 13th Battalion (now [11]

The Hamilton Tigers began play in the Ontario Rugby Football Union (ORFU) in 1883 and won their first Canadian Dominion Football Championship in 1906 when the Tigers beat McGill University 29–3. The Tigers continued in the ORFU until 1907, when the Interprovincial Rugby Football Union (IRFU) was formed. The IRFU later became known as the Big Four and eventually, the IRFU became the East division of the modern CFL in the 1950s. The Tigers faced stiff local competition with the ORFU's Hamilton Alerts who, in 1912, won the City of Hamilton its first Grey Cup, the trophy that was now awarded to the Canadian Dominion Football Champions, by beating the Toronto Argonauts 11–4.

The Hamilton Tigers playing an unknown Ottawa team in 1910.

In the following season (1913), the Tigers won their first of five Grey Cups when they beat the [11] In 1915, in the final pre-war season, the Hamilton Tigers won their second Grey Cup.

After over a decade-long drought, the Hamilton Tigers won the Grey Cup championship game in 1928, 1929 and 1932. The 1941 season saw the Tigers suspend play for the remainder of World War II. The Hamilton Tigers folded, largely because a number of players had gone into the armed services. It is believed by some that the failure of the Tigers is what caused the IRFU to be dissolved, and the Eastern Rugby Football Union (ERFU) to be formed.[9] Because of the absence of the Tigers, a new club called the Hamilton Wildcats were formed to play in the ORFU in 1941. The Wildcats were given permission to use players from the Hamilton Tigers, but not the traditional black and yellow colors of the Tigers. In 1943, the Hamilton Flying Wildcats, stocked with Royal Canadian Air Force personnel, won the 31st Grey Cup.

Things returned to normal in 1945 when the IRFU and the Hamilton Tigers resumed play while the Wildcats (no longer known as the Flying Wildcats) continued on in the ORFU. In 1948 the [11] Under the guidance of prominent and distinguished local leaders such as Ralph "Super-Duper" Cooper and F.M. Gibson, it was decided that the two teams should merge as one that would represent Hamilton. Cooper was named team president and Carl Voyles served as head coach and general manager. A contest was held among the fans to determine the colors for the newly formed football club; the result was a combination of the two clubs' colors: yellow, black, red, white and blue. Over the years, the colors have evolved to gold, black and white and remain to this day.[14] In 1950, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats begin play in Ivor Wynne Stadium.

A Steel Town dynasty (1950–1972)

Ivor Wynne Stadium, former home of the Tiger-Cats.

The Ti-Cats had great success throughout the 1950s and 1960s, in the 1950s and 1960s the club appeared in ten Grey Cups. They finished first in the East thirteen times from 1950 to 1972. During that same time span, they appeared in eleven Grey Cup finals winning the championship six times. Players, such as Angelo Mosca, Bernie Faloney, Joe Zuger and Garney Henley became football icons in the Steel City. Beginning in 1957 under coach Jim Trimble (who left the team after the 1962 season), the Tiger-Cats played in every national final through 1967, except for those of 1960 and 1966, winning 4 Cups (1957, 1963, 1965 and 1967).

The Cats 1972 Grey Cup win, 13–10 over the Saskatchewan Roughriders, was led by two sensational rookies, Chuck Ealey who had an outstanding college career at the University of Toledo and Ian Sunter, an 18-year old kicker who booted the deciding field goal that gave Hamilton the cup.

During this era, the Tiger-Cats also became (and remain to this day) the only Canadian team to have ever defeated a current National Football League team; on August 8, 1961, they defeated the Buffalo Bills by a score of 38–21 (at the time, Buffalo was still a part of the American Football League).[15][16]

Later years

In 1978, Toronto Maple Leafs owner, Harold Ballard assumed ownership of the Tiger Cats. Ballard claimed to be losing a million dollars a year.[17] The Tiger-Cats contended on and off during the rest of the 1970s and 1980s, reaching the Grey Cup final in 1980 and winning the East Division by a mile in 1981 with an 11–4–1 record under head coach Frank Kush, but were stunned by the Ottawa Rough Riders, who finished a distant second at 5–11, in the East final. The Tabbies' defense was very stout, talented and hungry that decade, led by standouts Grover Covington, Ben Zambiasi, Howard Fields and Mitchell Price. They were complemented very well on offense with quarterbacks Tom Clements and Mike Kerrigan throwing to Rocky DiPietro and Tony Champion leading to three straight trips to the Grey Cup in 1984, 1985 and 1986, the latter resulting in winning the title over the Edmonton Eskimos by a score of 39–15. In 1986, Ballard publicly called the Tiger-Cats a bunch of overpaid losers.[17] After the Tiger-Cats beat the Toronto Argonauts in the 1986 Eastern Final, Ballard said “You guys may still be overpaid, but after today, no one can call you losers.”[17] A few days later, the Tiger-Cats won the 1986 Grey Cup by beating the Edmonton Eskimos 39–15; Ballard said it was worth every penny.

Hamilton businessman David Braley bought the team in 1989, and he would eventually sell the team to a community-based group in 1992 due to continued poor attendance. Hamilton returned to the Grey Cup in 1989, but were on the losing end of a 43–40 thriller to Saskatchewan.

The 1990s were marked by financial instability, and constant struggles on the field. Quarterback was a weak spot for the Ti-Cats, as the first half of the decade had names like Don McPherson, Damon Allen, Timm Rosenbach, Matt Dunigan, Lee Saltz and Todd Dillon taking their turns at the pivot. Despite the excellent play of Eastern All-Star Earl Winfield rewriting the team's record books for pass catching, Hamilton struggled to attract crowds to Ivor Wynne Stadium. It was not until 1998 with the arrival of head coach Ron Lancaster and the pitch-and-catch duo of Danny McManus and Darren Flutie plus the pass rush abilities of Joe Montford that led Hamilton back to the CFL's elite, reaching the Grey Cup finals in 1998 and winning the cup the following year. However, the Ti-Cats would then suffer a slow decline. In 2000, Hamilton finished 9-9, losing 4 of their last 5 games, as well as the East semifinal 24-22 to Winnipeg. In 2001, Hamilton finished 11-7, and lost to Winnipeg in the playoffs for a second straight season, 28-13. In 2002, Hamilton finished 7-11 and missed the playoffs. The team would reach their lowest ebb in 2003, having a not only franchise-worst season, but the worst record in CFL history, finishing 1-17, with only a 27-24 overtime victory in week 14 keeping the declawed Tiger-Cats from having an imperfect season.

Tiger-Cats vs. Argonauts, October 27, 2005, at Rogers Centre

Native Hamiltonian Bob Young has owned the Tiger-Cats since 2004, and although the team has had a resurgence in home attendance, corporate sponsorship plus a brand new "Tiger Vision" scoreboard at Ivor Wynne, it has struggled with its on-field performance. Last place finishes both in 2005 (5–13) and 2006 (4–14), have resulted in an overhaul of the coaching staff for 2007. The moves still did not immediately help, as the team continued to lag in last place in 2007 and 2008 despite numerous apparent upgrades. In 2009, their fortunes turned around when they finished in second place in the East, qualifying for the playoffs for the first time in several years. However, they failed to win the Grey Cup, marking the 2000s as the first decade since the 1890s that Hamilton failed to win a national championship.

On August 31, 2011, the Tiger-Cats announced plans to close Ivor Wynne Stadium at the end of the 2012 season and begin play in the long planned Pan American Stadium in 2014.[18] Throughout the 2013 season, they played their home games at Guelph University's stadium because Pan American Stadium was still under construction. On November 24, 2013, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats lost to the Saskatchewan Roughriders 45-23 in the 101st Grey Cup at Mosaic Stadium at Taylor Field. The game had star appeal as actor Tom Hanks attended with comedian Martin Short, a Hamilton native. Early in the third, Hanks was shown replacing a Ti-cats toque with a Riders hat, drawing a loud roar from the crowd. In the last three seasons, the Grey Cup host city has won the championship game (BC Lions, Toronto Argonauts, and Saskatchewan Roughriders). After construction at Pan American Stadium fell behind schedule in 2014, the team moved the first few games of its 2014 season to Ron Joyce Stadium.

Tim Hortons Field opened in time for the 2014 Labour Day Classic, which coincided with the Tiger-Cats going on a long run that propelled the team from 1—6 prior to that game to 9—9 (in a year when the East was particularly weak, this was enough to win the division) and two further playoff wins, propelling the team to its second straight Grey Cup appearance, which would also be its second straight Grey Cup loss as the Calgary Stampeders held off a late comeback effort from the Tiger-Cats to win 20–16. The team went undefeated at Tim Hortons Field in its inaugural season at the stadium.

The Tiger-Cats logo for many decades was an exact reverse of the Princeton University Tigers athletic logo. The artwork for the original "leaping tiger" is claimed by Hamilton. Both logos have since been revised or replaced. The colours of the logo are black, yellow, and white.


Since 1873, the arch-rivals of the Tiger-Cats have been the Toronto Argonauts. The first ever meeting between the two teams took place on October 18, 1873 at the University of Toronto where the Argonauts defeated the Hamilton Football Club by a Goal and a Try to Nil.[12] Hamilton and Toronto are merely 51 km apart along the Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW) highway and were the only CFL teams in Ontario until the city of Ottawa started their new team; the Ottawa RedBlacks. Since 1996, the two teams have played each other every year at Hamilton's Ivor Wynne Stadium during the Labour Day Classic, with the 2011 season and the 2013 season being the recent exceptions. On some occasions, the two teams would have a rematch the following week at Toronto's Rogers Centre. There have been 16 playoff match-ups between the two, with Toronto holding a 10–6 advantage. On November 17, 2013, the Tiger-Cats defeated the Toronto Argonauts in the East Division Final game 36-24 at Rogers Centre. The win lead Hamilton to its first Grey Cup berth since 1999.


Corus Radio Hamilton is the official radio broadcast rights holder for the Tiger-Cats and they have been the official voice for CFL football in the Greater Hamilton Area for over 40 years. AM900 CHML, together with brother station Y108, offers coverage of all Tiger-Cats games, including pre-season games.[19][20] Hamilton Tiger-Cats games broadcast on CHML or anchored by the announcers team of Rick Zamperin, John Salavantis, and Matt Holmes. Zamperin, CHML's sports director, became the play-by-play announcer in 2007 after six seasons as sideline reporter. Color commentator John Salavantis is a former football coach with the Tiger-Cats, Ottawa Rough Riders, Montreal Machine, and the Ottawa University Braves. CHML's Matt Holmes is the pre-game show host and sideline reporter. The post-game show, "The Fifth Quarter", is hosted by Ted Michaels.

Tiger-Cats radio announcers

Years Flagship station Play-by-Play Colour Commentator
1950–59 CHML Norm Marshall
1960–66 CHML Norm Marshall Perc Allen
1967–77 CHML Perc Allen John Michaluk
1978 CJJD John Badham John Barrow
1979–83 CHAM Norm Marshall Bobby Dawson
1984–87 CHML Perc Allen John Michaluk
1988–92 CHML Bob Bratina John Michaluk
1993 CHML Bob Bratina John Salavantis and Bob Hooper
1994 CHML Bob Bratina John Bonk
1995 CHML Bob Bratina Bob Hooper
1996 CHML Bob Bratina Russ Jackson
1997–2001 CHML Bob Hooper Russ Jackson
2002 CHML Bob Bratina Guest Analysts
2003 CHML Bob Bratina John Salavantis
2004–06 CHML Tim Micallef John Salavantis
2007 CHML Rick Zamperin John Salavantis
2008 CHML/CJXY Rick Zamperin Ron Lancaster
2009–present CHML Rick Zamperin John Salavantis

Players and coaches of note

Canadian Football Hall of Famers

Current roster

Current front office and coaching staff

Head coaches

General managers

See also


  1. ^ "History | | Official Site of the Canadian Football League". Retrieved 2013-10-24. 
  2. ^ "Goodbye Ivor Wynne, hello Tim Hortons Field". July 12, 2013. Retrieved July 16, 2013. 
  3. ^ "Construction of Hamilton Pan Am Soccer Stadium for TORONTO 2015 Games Already 10% Complete". Toronto 2015 Pan American/Parapan American Games. May 24, 2013. Retrieved July 16, 2013. 
  4. ^ "HISTORY - Grey Cup | Hamilton Tiger-Cats". Retrieved 2013-10-24. 
  5. ^ a b c "Grey Cup Record Book 2011". Retrieved 2013-10-24. 
  6. ^ "CFL Regular Season Team Records". Retrieved 2013-10-24. 
  7. ^ "History | | Official Site of the Canadian Football League". Retrieved 2013-10-24. 
  8. ^ "Bob Young | Hamilton Tiger-Cats". Retrieved 2013-10-24. 
  9. ^ a b c "Hamilton Tiger-Cats". Retrieved 2013-10-24. 
  10. ^ "Tiger-Cats History". Retrieved 2008-09-14. 
  11. ^ a b c "Soudog's CFL History Fan Site: Hamilton Tiger-Cats". Archived from the original on 2009-10-27. Retrieved 2013-10-24. 
  12. ^ a b 2009 Canadian Football League Facts, Figures & Records, Canadian Football League Properties/Publications, Toronto, Ontario, ISBN 978-0-9739425-4-5, p.293
  13. ^ "TIGER-CATS HISTORY | Hamilton Tiger-Cats". Retrieved 2013-10-24. 
  14. ^ Derek Drager. "Hamilton Tiger-Cats". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2013-10-24. 
  15. ^ "NFL International historical results". National Football League. 2002-05-08. Archived from the original on 2005-02-07. Retrieved 2008-01-05. 
  16. ^ "Hamilton Tiger-Cats vs. Buffalo Bills, August 8, 1961,". Mark Bolding. Retrieved 2008-01-05. 
  17. ^ a b c All Work and All Play: A Life in the Outrageous Sport, p.124, John Wiley and Sons Canada Ltd., Mississauga, ON, 2005, ISBN 0-470-83552-4
  18. ^
  19. ^ "(CHML AM) AM 900". 2013-09-18. Retrieved 2013-10-24. 
  20. ^ "Corus Radio Hamilton Is The 2009 Home To The Hamilton Tiger-Cats | Hamilton Tiger-Cats". 2009-05-12. Retrieved 2013-10-24. 

External links

  • Official website
  • Hamilton Tiger-Cats at DMOZ
  • Hamilton Tiger-Cats section at the Spec Online
  • Hamilton Tiger-Cats page at
  • Hamilton Tiger-Cats page at
  • Hamilton Tiger-Cats page at
  • CHML 900 Radio live broadcasts of all Tiger-Cats games
  • Complete Tiger-Cats History
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