March 22, 2017

It’s Stan’s turn

Stan Schwartz (Photo by Eric Boldt)

Many times over the years, Stan Schwartz was the man feverishly trying to get others entered into a hall of fame.

Whether it was writing an official nomination letter or making a few phone calls, Schwartz did his darndest to put the spotlight on those he felt worthy of recognition.

“I would think probably around a dozen,” replied Schwartz when asked about how many hall-of-fame cases he’s championed. “That would include everyone from players to builders over the years.

“It’s certainly an honour even to be asked to submit people’s names, not only to the Canadian Football Hall of Fame but also the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame, the Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame. I have written a few over the years.”

Fortunately, someone thought to do the same for Schwartz. The Medicine Hat native will soon be a member of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame’s class of 2017.

A well-deserved honour it is, too, as Schwartz served the Stampeders with distinction in various capacities from assistant coach in 1976 to executive vice-president and consultant to the executive committee at the time of his retirement this past January. He also had an eight-year stint as team president along the way.

But regardless of his title, his mission was the same – to be a passionate advocate for the white horse and all the values for which the team behind the logo stands.

Stan Schwartz presented with a 40 years of excellence plaque from President and GM John Hufnagel (Photo by Eric Boldt)

“It would be hard to find a guy with more integrity and class,” says Dave Dickenson, who has been a Stampeders player, assistant coach and now head coach during Schwartz’s time with the organization. “He’s just a tireless worker.”

Until the very end of his time with the Stampeders, Schwartz was usually the first person at his McMahon Stadium desk every morning and was often one of the last to head home for the day. He logged a lot of hours on weekend, too, even during the football off-season.

When a person spends that many years with an organization and demonstrates such commitment to the job, he’s bound to leave a major impression.

“He’s very deserving of going into the Hall of Fame because of the role he’s played in so many Stampeders’ lives,” notes Dickenson, himself a Hall-of-Famer. “He’s a proud man. Anything he did, he took pride in. He wasn’t going to be a part of something that he wasn’t giving everything to.”

Proud is an apt description. But modest, too.

“I accept the induction into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame,” says Schwartz, “on behalf of all those who are so deserving but who are never recognized for their contributions to this great Canadian sport.”

A nice sentiment to be sure, but it’s simple fact that few individuals ever contributed more to Canadian football over the years. Particularly in Calgary.

Besides his three decades with the Stampeders and his time with the McMahon Stadium Society, Schwartz worked as a coach at the high school and junior levels. His active involvement as an administrator and fundraiser for amateur football spanned a half-century and his many honours include a place on the Calgary Bantam Football Wall of Fame.

Schwartz is also a member of the Stampeders’ Wall of Fame, the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame and the Medicine Hat Sports Hall of Fame. In 2009, Schwartz was awarded the CFL’s Hugh Campbell Distinguished Leadership Award.


Photo by Johany Jutras

And yet, it seems Schwartz is happiest trying to get recognition for others. Even as he’s destined for enshrinement, Schwartz isn’t ready to give up on pushing for others to be honoured.

“When Wayne Harris passed,” Schwartz says of the legendary Stamps linebacker from the ’60s and ’70s, “I guess everyone assumed he was in Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame. And he wasn’t. So I quickly put a package together. We have submitted that. I understand this year is the last year he’s eligible, so hopefully he’ll be selected this year. He’s in every other sports hall of fame.”

Schwartz figures about half the candidates he’s nominated for a hall of fame over the years wound up being honoured. His favourite success story is the one involving former Stamps president Tony Anselmo, who was inducted into the Canadian Hall of Fame in 2009.

“I believe it took about six or seven years before Tony was finally accepted as a builder in the Canadian Football Hall of Fame,” says Schwartz. “Tom Higgins and I visited Tony in the hospital and let him know that he was going to be inducted. It was such a change for Tony over the next several months – he was a new person.

“He delivered his (acceptance) speech in September of that year and it was quite touching considering his age (91). Unfortunately, he passed away in November of that year so it was nice to get him inducted when he and his family and friends could really appreciate it.”

Now Schwartz gets his own place in the Hall next to Anselmo, Dickenson, Harris, Doug Flutie, Willie Burden, fellow 2017 inductee Kelvin Anderson and all the other individuals who made an impact as members of the Stampeders organization.

“It certainly is an honour,” Schwartz admits. “It’s something you never expect. When you’ve been involved with Canadian football the number of years that I have, starting way back in flag football in junior high school and all the way through . . . Like I said, you never expect it but it’s certainly something special.

“It makes you thankful and it makes you think of all the people who have helped you along the way – everyone from your flag football coach, all though high school, junior football, university and all the people in the Stampeder organization. It’s an honour that’s never achieved alone.”