|Date of birth:||September 26, 1927|
|Place of birth:||Port Credit, Ontario|
|Date of death:||October 8, 2006(aged 79)|
|Place of death:||Scarborough, Ontario|
|College:||none - Port Credit High School|
|Toronto Balmy Beach Beachers|
Ottawa Rough Riders
|Career highlights and awards|
|Awards:||1953 Jeff Russel Memorial Trophy|
Bob Cunningham was a Grey Cup champion and award winning professional Canadian football fullback. Between 1948 and 1951, he played 29 games for the Montreal Alouettes, scoring a touchdown in their 1949 Grey Cup championship (the 37th Grey Cup.) He played for the Ottawa Rough Riders from 1952 to 1955, winning the Jeff Russel Memorial Trophy in 1953 (as Eastern MVP). In 1947 he was an all-star with the Toronto Balmy Beach Beachers.
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Hall of Fame welcomes homegrown talent
June 8, 2011 Robert F. Cunningham ranked among the great athletes of his time, excelling in two sports. While growing up in Port Credit, his father wanted him to follow in his footsteps and become a pro golfer rather than a professional football player.
Cunningham became both and, along the way, accomplished a remarkable feat. As a halfback, he won the 1949 Grey Cup with the Montreal Alouettes in his second season with the club. He played with Montreal for four years then was traded to the Ottawa Rough Riders in 1953 where he won the Jeff Russell trophy for the most valuable, sportsmanlike and popular player in the Canadian Football League. While with Ottawa, Cunningham became the first Canadian player to be nominated for the Schenley Award.
In his other sport, Cunningham beat such Canadian golf legends as George Knudson and Moe Norman while winning the 1959 Canadian match-play championship.
In high school, Cunningham became captain and star quarterback of the Port Credit Warriors football team that surprised one and all when they won the high school western division senior league title and nearly pulled off an even greater surprise – narrowly losing in the title game for the Toronto and District crown.
Following his Port Credit high school days, Cunningham spent two years honing his football skills with the Balmy Beach Rugby Club. Just under six foot and tipping the scale at 200 pounds, he attracted plenty of attention, and professional clubs soon came knocking on his door. He turned down a tempting offer from the Toronto Argonauts before accepting a more lucrative one from Montreal. He signed a $2,500 contract – a lot of money those days for a few months of football when the national wage average was $2,175. A speedy halfback who could run and catch, “Crazy Legs” Cunningham helped pave the Alouettes’ way to football glory by scoring an early touchdown in the ’49 Grey Cup game. After being traded to Ottawa, he became the first Canadian to win the Jeff Russell Memorial Trophy as the most outstanding player in the CFL’s Eastern Division.
When a knee injury ended his eight-year pro football career, Cunningham turned his attention to golf. His interest (and talent) in the game was inherited from his father – in fact, both father and son were past winners of the Millar Trophy, emblematic of the Canadian Match Play championship. When his father retired after 32 years as pro at St. George’s Golf and Country Club in Etobicoke, it was his son who inherited the job and served from 1960 to 1965.
In the 1990s his health deteriorated. He suffered two strokes, underwent hip replacement surgery twice, and a leg was amputated above the knee.
Cunningham died in his 80th year during Thanksgiving weekend in 2006.