When Charles (Spider) Jones hit the stage at Leaside Memorial Gardens on Nov. 17, he praised the four humble men who were inducted into the Leaside Sports.
The former boxer lifted a hand in a grand gesture to light middleweight boxer, Shawn O’Sullivan, who won gold at the World Amateur Championships in 1981 and won a silver medal at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.
“I remember Shawn O’Sullivan, and at the time he won the World Title and he represented us in the Summer Olympics,” Jones narrated. “He didn’t just catch the attention of Leaside or East York or Toronto or Ontario. It went coast-to-coast like buttered toast.”
He shared an anecdote about O’Sullivan providing him his very first interview after coming back a hero in ’84. “That’s the essence of him,” Jones added.
Humility was the theme running throughout the night as long-distance runner Robert Moore, former NHLer Dave Gardner and builder Phil Stein, represented by his son Graham, joined O’Sullivan at this year’s induction ceremonies.
In an unexpected moment, Don Valley West MP Rob Oliphant awarded organizer Kathleen Mackenzie with the Sesquicentennial Citizenship Award.
The event also honoured hockey player Mariah Hinds as Athlete of the Year. The 18-year-old with a cannon slap shot played four years as a Toronto Leaside Wildcat. She recently won gold at the U18 National Championship.
She also earned a full scholarship to play NCAA Division 1 hockey at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri.
Mom Zelda Sadler beamed as she told Streeter it came as a surprise as they thought the event only honoured sports heroes.
“I always knew Mariah was going to do great things,” she admitted.
Many stories were shared, including Gardner’s memories of playing ball hockey on his street, Annesley Avenue. He recalled most of the Maple Leafs from his father, Cal Gardner’s era, lived in Leaside.
The Gardners were a hockey family. Cal is in a famous picture, holding up Bill Barilko with Bill Juzda, after his famous Stanley Cup-winning goal.
Dave played nine seasons in the NHL with the Montreal Canadiens, St. Louis Blues, California Seals, Cleveland Barons and the Philadelphia Flyers. Brother Paul played 11 seasons donning the jerseys of the Colorado Rockies, Toronto Maple Leafs, Pittsburgh Penguins, Washington Capitals and Buffalo Sabres.
“We played ball hockey on the street, and you had the nets on both sides of the street to make it equal. When cars came, most people would move the nets,” he said, with a laugh. “We never moved the nets.”
He shared the moment with wife Marion, eldest son Ryan, who played 21 seasons in the Swiss-A league, daughter Jennifer, and his youngest, Matthew, 18.
Long-distance runner Robert Moore added to the modest tone of the evening, noting it was his running team in High Park that buoyed him. He finished fifth in his first Boston Marathon in 1969 and represented Canada at the 1970 Commonwealth Games.
“I’m overwhelmed because I’m good, but I’m not great. I’ve had some achievements,” he said sheepishly, adding he and his wife moved to Sutherland Drive in 1973. “Leaside made my life a lot easier.”