THOM RACINE: At long last – dad gets the call

Allow me to be self serving and chalk it up to being proud to write about a very tough subject, but when no one and I mean no one, that I have ever asked or spoken to on this subject, could give me one reason why Moe Racine should not be a member of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame, it is pretty easy to write about it, especially this week.

For the past year, I have been writing my father’s memoir, I had to write his story, for years people have asked me two questions about My Dad. How does one finish high school football in 1957 and walk onto a pro football team a year later. People want to know about his life and a career spanning three decades in the trenches with the Ottawa Rough Riders. Up until last Friday, there was one glaring void in Dad’s career. The answer to the second most asked question – Why is Moe Racine not in the Hall of Fame?

That all changed last month, when the powers that be at the Canadian Football Hall of Fame, finally voted to induct Cornwall’s Moe Racine to the Hall.

On October 31st 2013, CFL Commissioner Mark Cohon called my parent’s house.

 “I had been in Ottawa for the day and when I returned, Donna gave me the message, I called Mark and he simply said. ‘Moe – it is my great duty as the commissioner, to welcome you to the Hall of Fame.’ “

Dad was stunned, a little shocked, it was a call, that, had he been waiting for it, he had stopped waiting for, a very long time ago.

When I finished last week’s column, about attending the Championship High School Football game at La Citadelle, at the end of the article, I hinted…what could be next? As in, what new memory could Moe ‘The Toe’ Racine create next. As we stood watching that game, we both knew that Dad was finally in the Hall of Fame, although it would be another week before the announcement was made. That day, we wanted to both be there at the place, where it all started 56 years ago.

In August of 1958, then Standard Freeholder sports writer Frank Orr penned a few lines about Moe Racine’s try out with the Rough Riders in Ottawa.

“Right now Moe Racine stands on the threshold of a great football career with the Ottawa Rough Riders. He reported to the Riders training camp for Canadian players to pick up some pointers and immediately caught the eye of Frank Clair.

When the camp broke up, Moe was asked to stay with the team.”

Frank knew something that day and when I spoke to Mr. Orr recently, he said, “Everyone who played with or against Moe or simply watched him play, knew, that if he went to the CFL, he would play.”

Playing twenty-two years of football was not something my father thought of back in 1953, although he knew pretty early in his pro career, that Frank Orr was right, he could play at the CFL level.

Another not so known fact is that by making the jump and not going to college, it actually hurt him in his development and with his salary. I know that Dad had a choice to attend several schools after high school, but when the training camp ended in 1958 and the Rough Riders asked that big kid from Belmont Street to sign his name, it was a long way from peeling potatoes with his brother Gilles, for his brother Bernie’s French Fry wagon in the late 1940’s.

Why did it take so long?  It matters not any more – I, as you know, am very proud to call you Dad.

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