Passing of a Legend
It’s often odd to read news stories about a general manager or a former player in sports one day, and then the next hear of their passing. Such was the case with Ron Lancaster. Ron Lancaster became the face of not only the Saskatchewan Roughriders, but of the Canadian Football League. Born in Pennsylvania, he was considered too small for American Football at five foot nine. But he went north, and joined the Ottawa Rough Riders in 1960. He was the back up quarterback, and showed a spark for times when he was pressed into action.
But Ottawa was Russ Jackson’s town and team. They couldn’t have two big quarterbacks in Ottawa. So Lancaster was traded.
To the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
For the next 16 years, Lancaster became the player that set the tone for other quarterbacks in the CFL. Nicknamed the Little General, Lancaster never thought a game was not able to be won. There was always time left on the clock. Lancaster was the quarterback who brought the Grey Cup to Saskatchewan for the first time in 1966. The Green Riders would make Cup appearances again in ’67, ’69, ’72 and ’76. He set records that stood for over two decades. After his time as a player, he coached for two unsuccessful years in Saskatchewan, before moving to the broadcast booth, with the CFL on CBC.
After a long stretch in the booth, Lancaster returned to the sidelines as head coach with, first the Edmonton Eskimos and then the Hamilton Tiger Cats. He won a Grey Cup with each team, winning Coach of the Year with Hamilton.
From the side lines, he moved to the front office, becoming the general manager of the Ti-Cats.
Lancaster was 69 years old, and passed away due to complications with lung cancer.
On Saturday, September 20th, the Saskatchewan Roughriders will don their retro jerseys, sporting a Number 23 on them in memory of Lancaster. A moment of silence will be had before the Riders take to the field against the B.C. Lions. On the same field, that the Little General commanded his own troops so many years ago.
…keep ‘em flyin’.