Monday, April 13, 2009
Your Credentials Await You!
In 1959, George H. Carver presented himself to the media desk in Prague, Czechoslovakia. Carver was a sports writer for the Belleville newspaper called the Intelligencer, and he was in Europe to cover the World Hockey Championships.
Carver had to line up with all of the luminaries from the sports writing world at the time: Scott Young, Milt Dunnell, George Bain, Ed Simon, and Peter Uebersax from United Press International. Even Manager Billy Reay and Coach Ike Hildebrand inked a few columns while in Europe.
Carver more than held his own with the heavyweights, and was credited with a few lines in the New York Times after the McFarlands had knocked off the Russians to win the World Title.
Although born in Luton, England, George Carver was educated in the Wellington, Ontario public and high schools. Following a stint in the First World War, he arrived at his desk as a sports writer with the Belleville Intelligencer. He carved out a daily column for more than thirty-two years.
Macs captain Floyd Crawford was always amazed at the clarity and accuracy of Carver’s columns. “Occasionally, he would take those 99 steps from the side door of the Memorial Arena to the Queen’s Hotel on Front Street, at the end of the first period. He would motion me over to chat with him after the game. He would record my comments on the back of his cigarette pack. Then the next day, I would read his column. It always read as if he had intensely watched every second of the game.”
Carver was never without his cigarette holder, and his fedora. He wrote about all sports, and occasionally about his city and its people.
On hot Friday nights, in mid-summer, he covered the wrestling matches at the Memorial. He witnessed the exploits of the greatest on the planet at that time: Argentina Rocca, Gorgeous George, Lord Athol Layton, Carpentier, “The Flying Frenchman”, Yukon Eric, and fan favourite “Whipper” Billy Watson. He also wrote about the evil faction in the ring: the Iron Sheik, Fritz Von Erich, and Hans Schmidt.
In the early 1950s, he was fed up with the supposed acting in the ring. For years, he had seen the foes beat on each other, shower up and dress in the same facility, then head off to Peterborough or Kingston in the same Cadillac to fight the next night. Earlier in the evening, one of the wrestlers had won his event with a “Sleeper Hold”, temporarily comatizing his opponent. “Nonsense,” cried Carver. “You’re just a bunch of fakers.”
With that, one of the wrestlers, most likely one with a German surname, grabbed Carver and applied the hold.
Half an hour later, long after the arena had cleared of fans, former McFarland forward David Jones found Carver fast asleep in the wrester’s dressing room. Jones was part of the famous ‘broom gang’ at the time, long before he would take the ice for the McFarlands.
George Carver strongly supported local athletes. He was thrilled to cover the exploits of Robert Marvin Hull when Bobby broke into the NHL with Chicago. Carver followed Hull’s progress, and was astounded when Frank Mahovlich was chosen as the Rookie of the Year instead of Hull. It was a decision strongly influenced by the powerful Toronto media.
So disgusted was Carver with that decision, he announced that evening at the dinner table, that three words were never to be uttered again in his household. Those words? Toronto Maple Leafs.
Carver was inducted into the Belleville Sports Hall of Fame in 1987.