Tony Pajaczkowski
No. 50, 56
Tony Pajaczkowski.png
Born:(1936-05-31)May 31, 1936
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Died:June 4, 2022(2022-06-04) (aged 86)
Port Hope, Ontario, Canada
Career information
CFL statusNational
Position(s)G/DE
Height6 ft 3 in (191 cm)
Weight225 lb (102 kg)
Career history
As player
19551965Calgary Stampeders
19661967Montreal Alouettes
Career highlights and awards
CFL All-Star19621965
CFL East All-Star1966
CFL West All-Star19601965
Awards1961 - CFL's Most Outstanding Canadian Award
Career stats

Tony "Paj"[1] Pajaczkowski (pa-jə-KOW-skee;[2] May 31, 1936 – June 4, 2022)[3] was a Canadian professional football player. He was an all-star offensive guard in the Canadian Football League (CFL).

Coming from the Verdun Shamcats in Montreal, Pajaczkowski played 11 seasons with the Calgary Stampeders (1955–1965) and two seasons with the Montreal Alouettes (1966–1967). He was a CFL All-Star four times (1962–1965) and won the CFL's Most Outstanding Canadian Award in 1961 (after being runner-up in 1960). He was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1988.

Early life and education

Pajaczkowski was born on May 31, 1936, in Verdun, Quebec.[4] He attended Catholic High School there, and was named most valuable player of the 1953 Montreal Gazette All-Star football team.[5] He played junior football for the Verdun Shamcats of the Quebec Rugby Football Union (QRFU) in 1954 along with former Catholic High teammate Bob Geary.[6]

Weighing at 225 pounds (102 kg), Pajaczkowski was nicknamed "Big Tony."[4][5]

Professional career

In December 1954, Pajaczkowski and Geary were signed by the Calgary Stampeders of the Western Interprovincial Football Union (WIFU).[6] Pajaczkowski made the roster in his first year and appeared in 12 games for the 1955 Stampeders at tackle and defensive end, mainly playing on kickoff teams.[4][7] In 1956, his position was changed to guard by coach Jack Hennemier.[8] Although initially reluctant to change, it was at this position that he became one of the all-time greats of Canadian football.[8] In his first year at guard, Pajaczkowski earned a starting role and appeared in all 16 games as the Stampeders finished 4–12.[9][10] In addition to playing at guard, he was also used by Calgary as a kicking specialist.[10]

Pajaczkowski signed a contract extension in March 1957.[10] Coach Otis Douglas called him one of Calgary's best Canadian prospects.[10] He continued as starter in 1957, playing in every game as the Stampeders finished third place in the conference with a record of 6–10.[11] On special teams, he made eight kickoffs for 391 yards, a 48.9 average.[4]

The Vancouver Sun reported in July 1958 that Pajaczkowski was "not far behind" teammate Harry Langford as the league's most outstanding guard.[12] He was re-signed that year and played in every game, helping Calgary to a record of 6–9–1 and a fourth-place conference finish.[13][14] After playing in 14 games in 1959, Pajaczkowski was named the team's best lineman by a fan vote.[15]

Due to pronunciation difficulties, announcer Jack Wells refused to mention Pajaczkowski's name (pronounced pa-jə-KOW-skee) in all of the Calgary game broadcasts from 1955 to 1959.[2][16]

Pajaczkowski appeared in 16 games in 1960, helping Calgary reach the second round of the WIFU playoffs.[17] In addition to being their starting guard, he was the team's backup kickoff specialist that year, making 27 kickoffs for 1495 yards, a 55.4 yard average.[17] He was the Stampeders' nominee for the Schenley Most Outstanding Canadian Award and was the runner-up for the honor.[8]

In 1961, Pajaczkowski made 51 kickoffs for 2845 yards, an average of 55.8 yards per kick, and started all 16 games at guard, being named to the Western Football Conference All-Star team and earning the Most Outstanding Canadian Award.[18][19]

The following year, Pajaczkowski was named for the first time of his career to the CFL All-Star team.[20] He was one of six Stampeders to be given that honor.[20] In 1963, he was named all-star for the second consecutive season.[21][22] He was named all-star for a third time in 1964 and in 1965 earned his fourth-straight all-star honor.[23][24]

On May 19, 1966, Pajaczkowski was traded to the Montreal Alouettes.[25] He played in all 14 games in his first year with the team.[26] After a knee injury in a 1967 practice, he changed his position from right guard to right tackle.[7] In a game against his former team, Calgary, Pajaczkowski was benched for the first time in his career.[7] He announced his retirement in June 1968.[27]

Later life and death

After retiring, Pajaczkowski accepted a position as line coach at Loyola College in Montreal.[28]

In 1988, Pajaczkowski was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame.[29]

Pajaczkowski lived in Port Hope, Ontario, where he died on June 4, 2022, four days after his 86th birthday.[3]

References

  1. ^ "Tony Pajaczkowski - Guard". Calgary Herald. July 11, 1963. p. 13 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  2. ^ a b Sullivan, Jack (December 26, 1959). "Tough Season Ahead For Sportscasters". The Expositor. p. 9 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  3. ^ a b Hickey, Pat (June 5, 2022). "CFL great Tony Pajaczkowski dies at 86". Montreal Gazette.
  4. ^ a b c d "Tony Pajaczkowski Stats". Pro Football Archives.
  5. ^ a b "'Big Tony,' Geary In Feature Bout At Catholic High". Montreal Gazette. May 13, 1954. p. 24 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  6. ^ a b "Calgary Signs Verdun Gridders". The Montreal Star. BUP. December 27, 1954. p. 23 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  7. ^ a b c Scott, Bob (September 26, 1967). "Tony Pajaczkowski: From All-Star To The Bench". Montreal Gazette. p. 32 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  8. ^ a b c "Tony Pajaczkowski". Canadian Football Hall of Fame.
  9. ^ "1956 Calgary Stampeders (WIFU)". Pro Football Archives.
  10. ^ a b c d "Pajaczkowski: Signed by Stamps". The Calgary Albertan. March 9, 1957. p. 13 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  11. ^ "1957 Calgary Stampeders (WIFU)". Pro Football Archives.
  12. ^ Richards, Jack (July 25, 1958). "Stamps a Yardstick To Test Leo Trades". The Vancouver Sun. p. 14 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  13. ^ "Stamps Ink Pair". The Montreal Star. The Canadian Press. May 31, 1958. p. 53 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  14. ^ "1958 Calgary Stampeders (WIFU)". Pro Football Archives.
  15. ^ "Pajaczkowski Named". Montreal Gazette. The Canadian Press. October 28, 1959. p. 25 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  16. ^ "Untitled". The Calgary Albertan. December 23, 1959. p. 9 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  17. ^ a b "1960 Calgary Stampeders (WIFU)". Pro Football Archives.
  18. ^ "Past Year Recalls Many Sports Highlights". Calgary Herald. December 29, 1961. p. 11 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  19. ^ "1961 Calgary Stampeders (CFL)". Pro Football Archives.
  20. ^ a b "West Coast Dominates Grid All-Stars". Calgary Herald. The Canadian Press. November 27, 1962. p. 12 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  21. ^ "1963 All Canada 12". The Vancouver Sun. November 16, 1963. p. 80 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  22. ^ "Lions Dominate Selects". The Leader-Post. The Canadian Press. December 4, 1963. p. 39 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  23. ^ "Losers Claim Nine Berths On All-Stars". Times Colonist. The Canadian Press. December 1, 1964. p. 10 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  24. ^ "Tony Pajaczkowski And John Barrow All-Star Repeaters". The Sun Times. The Canadian Press. December 1, 1965. p. 20 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  25. ^ Walker, Hal (May 19, 1966). "Paj Returns To East After 11 Years". Calgary Herald. p. 18 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  26. ^ "1966 Montreal Alouettes (CFL)". Pro Football Archives.
  27. ^ "Troubles set in early for Larks". The Montreal Star. June 25, 1968. p. 40 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  28. ^ "Football roundup". Star-Phoenix. The Canadian Press. July 11, 1968. p. 17 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  29. ^ "Four in football shrine". The Ottawa Citizen. The Canadian Press. May 17, 1988. p. 63 – via Newspapers.com. open access