Chatham Sports Hall of Fame to add five inductees

By Mark Malone, Chatham Daily News
Brothers Dan and John Comiskey played one season together on the Edmonton Eskimos’ offensive line.

They’ll be reunited in the Chatham Sports Hall of Fame after both former CFLers were named to the Class of 2017 in the athlete-modern category Thursday.

Hockey player Brian Hind (athlete-legend), former Chatham Daily News sports editor Mike Bennett (builder) and the 2001-02 John McGregor Secondary School senior boys’ basketball team will also be honoured during the annual ceremony Sept. 14 at the WISH Centre.

The good news gave Dan Comiskey a chance to reminisce about his 13 CFL seasons with the Saskatchewan Roughriders, Eskimos, Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Calgary Stampeders.

“It’s nice to remember you were a part of some pretty special teams with some special players,” he said. “I’m really humbled by it.”

He was a two-time West Division all-star (2003 and 2006) and two-time Grey Cup champion (2003 and 2005) with the Eskimos. He retired after the 2010 season.

Dan Comiskey didn’t have to go through the Hall of Fame voting process. He was so highly rated by the nomination committee, he automatically goes in as a “directors’ choice induction for outstanding achievement” under a new policy.

The four other inductees were elected by a 12-member selection committee.

The Comiskeys played beside each other in 2008, John as the Eskimos’ centre and Dan at left guard.

“The fact we had the opportunity to do that is really neat,” said Dan, who played in four Grey Cups. “It was definitely a highlight of my career.”

The brothers were so close that season, it was like they shared one mind, he said.

“We didn’t really have to communicate a whole lot because we knew each other’s playing style so well,” John said.

John played five CFL seasons – three with the Stampeders and two with the Eskimos – before a knee injury forced him to retire before the 2010 campaign.

He was the Eskimos’ nominee for the league’s outstanding lineman in 2008.

“I couldn’t be happier,” John said about his induction. “It’s quite an honour to join that hall. There are a countless number of athletes from Chatham that have been lucky enough to be inducted into that hall. I feel very fortunate.”

John played at Rutgers University before transferring to the University of Windsor, where Dan had been an all-Canadian for the Lancers.

Hind played four junior ‘B’ seasons – three with the Chatham Maroons and one with the Wallaceburg Hornets – and was an all-star twice. He then went to St. Lawrence University from 1967-71 and played three seasons. (Freshmen were ineligible.)

He was the Saints’ MVP and scoring leader in his final two seasons. He was also their captain as a senior.

His sophomore season ended with a loss to Cornell and legendary goalie Ken Dryden.

“I did manage to score on him that year,” said Hind, 69, who lives in Petrolia. “I figured that was a claim to fame.”

Rather than turn pro, Hind came home to play senior and intermediate hockey for Bothwell, London, Petrolia, Dresden and Chatham. He won three scoring titles and retired as the all-time leading scorer in the Continental Hockey League.

He was inducted into the Dresden Sports Hall of Fame in 2011 in the male-athlete category. He was surprised to hear from the Chatham Hall almost 20 years after moving away from the city.

“I’m very pleased, obviously,” he said.

Bennett spent 31½ years at the Daily News, including 27 years as sports editor, before leaving in 2007. He joined the newspaper right out of Chatham Collegiate Institute.

He’s now a reporter at the Blenheim News Tribune, continuing a journalism career that’s lasted for 44 years.

Bennett was inducted into the CCI Athletic Hall of Fame in 1999 and into the Chatham Maroon Alumni Association’s Heart and Soul Volunteer Wall of Fame in 2010. When he wasn’t writing stories, he was also a longtime hockey goaltending and minor baseball coach.

The McGregor Panthers won antique bronze medals for placing fourth at the first OFSAA ‘AAAA’ championship in 2002.

They won OFSAA ‘AA’ gold in 2000 and 2001. Rather than try for a third straight title against overmatched opponents, they opted to move up two levels and challenge ‘AAAA’ teams.

The Panthers set a Chatham high school record for wins by going 50-8. They won 25 in a row before losing their OFSAA semifinal.

The roster included future CFL star Andy Fantuz as well as Kevin Kloostra, the first Chatham male basketball player to receive an NCAA Division I scholarship; Alan Cattrysse, a four-year starter on the Michigan State University baseball team; and Kyle Robbins, a future Dr. Jack Parry Award winner.

Their coach was Chatham Sports Hall of Fame inductee Dan Lewis.


Photo by – Postmedia Network File Photo

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