American Football Database
Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Hamilton Tiger-Cats helmet Hamilton Tiger-Cats logo

Founded 1950
Based in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Home field Ivor Wynne Stadium since 1950
League Canadian Football League
Division East Division
Colours Black, gold, and white
Nickname(s) Ti-Cats, Tigers, Tabbies
Head coach Marcel Bellefeuille
General manager Bob O'Billovich
Owner(s) Bob Young
Grey Cup wins 1953, 1957, 1963, 1965
1967, 1972, 1986, 1999[1]
Mascot(s) TC & Stripes
Uniform CFL HAM Jersey.png

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats are a Canadian Football League team based in Hamilton, Ontario, founded in 1950 with the merger of the Hamilton Tigers and the Hamilton Flying Wildcats.[2] The Tiger-Cats play their home games at Ivor Wynne Stadium. Since the 1950 merger, the team has won the Grey Cup championship eight times, most recently in 1999.[1]


Including their historical lineage, Hamilton football clubs won league championships in every decade of the 20th century, a feat matched by only two other North American franchise in professional sports, the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings of the International League, and the Montreal Canadiens of the NHL. Interestingly, none of these teams won a championship in the first decade of the 21st century.

Team facts

Founded: 1950, a merger of the Hamilton Tigers and the Hamilton Flying Wildcats.[2]
Formerly known as: The Hamilton Tigers and Hamilton Flying Wildcats.
Helmet design: Black background with a leaping tiger
Uniform colours: Black, Gold and White.
Home stadium: Ivor Wynne Stadium (1950–present), Hamilton Amateur Athletic Association Grounds (1872–1949)
Current Owner: Bob Young
Eastern regular season championships: 21—1950, 1952, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1967, 1970, 1972, 1980, 1981, 1984,1985, 1986, 1989, 1998, 1999
Grey Cup final appearances:: 29—1910—Tigers (lost), 1912—Alerts (won), 1912—Tigers (won), 1915—Tigers (won), 1927—Tigers (lost), 1928—Tigers (won), 1929—Tigers (won), 1932—Tigers (won), 1935—Tigers (lost), 1943—Wildcats (won), 1944—Wildcats (lost), 1953 (won), 1957 (won), 1958 (lost), 1959 (lost), 1961 (lost), 1962 (lost), 1963 (won), 1964 (lost), 1965 (won), 1967 (won), 1972 (won), 1980 (lost), 1984 (lost), 1985 (lost), 1986 (won), 1989 (lost), 1998 (lost), 1999 (won)[1]
Grey Cup wins:: 15 (Alerts—1, Tigers—5, Wildcats—1, Tiger-Cats—8)
Main Rivals: Toronto Argonauts (see Labour Day Classic), Winnipeg Blue Bombers (met eight times in Grey Cup games, six other times in playoffs)
2010 Regular Season Record: 9 wins, 9 losses, 0 ties.

The Tiger-Cats logo for many decades was an exact reverse of the Princeton University Tigers athletic logo. The artwork for the original "leaping tiger" is claimed by Hamilton. Both logos have since been revised or replaced.


Since 1873[3], the arch-rivals of the Ti-Cats have been the Toronto Argonauts. Hamilton and Toronto are merely 51 km apart along the Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW) highway and are currently the only CFL teams in Ontario. The two teams play each other every year at Hamilton's Ivor Wynne Stadium during the Labour Day Classic. On November 14th, 2010 the Tiger Cats were defeated by the Toronto Argonauts in a key playoff match-up.

Franchise history

Early years

The history of Hamilton Tiger-Cats can be traced back to November 3, 1869 in a room above George Lee’s Fruit Store, when the Hamilton Football Club was formed.[4] Known as the Tigers, they joined the Interprovincial Rugby Football Union in 1907. They faced local competition with the Alerts who, in 1912, won Hamilton its first Grey Cup by beating the Toronto Argonauts 11–4. In the following season, the Tigers won their first of five Grey Cups when they beat the Parkdale Canoe Club by the lopsided margin of 44–2. In 1914, both teams merged under the moniker of Tigers. After World War II, the Tigers and the newly formed Flying Wildcats competed for fans, talent and bragging rights so vehemently that neither team could operate on a sound financial level.[3]

Under the guidance of prominent and distinguished local leaders such as Ralph "Super-Duper" Cooper and F.M. Gibson, it was decided that the two teams should merge as one that would represent Hamilton. The Tiger-Cats were born in 1950 with Cooper as team president and Carl Voyles serve as head coach and general manager.

A Steel Town dynasty (1950–1972)

The Ti-Cats had great success throughout the 1950s and 1960s, they finished first in the East thirteen times from 1950 to 1972. During that same timespan, they also appeared in eleven Grey Cup finals winning the championship six times. Players, such as Angelo Mosca, Bernie Faloney, Joe Zuger and Garney Henley became football icons in the Steel City. Their 1972 Grey Cup win, 13–10 over the Saskatchewan Roughriders, were led by two sensational rookies, Chuck Ealey who had an outstanding college career at the University of Toledo and Ian Sunter, an 18-year old kicker who booted the deciding field goal that gave Hamilton the cup.

During this era, the Tiger-Cats also became (and remain to this day) the only Canadian team to have ever defeated a current National Football League team; on August 8, 1961, they defeated the Buffalo Bills by a score of 38–21 (at the time, Buffalo was still a part of the American Football League).[5][6]

Later years

Tiger-Cats vs. Argonauts, October 27, 2005, at Rogers Centre

In 1978, Toronto Maple Leafs owner, Harold Ballard assumed ownership of the Tiger Cats. Ballard claimed to be losing a million dollars a year.[7] The Tiger-Cats contended on and off during the rest of the 1970s and 1980s, reaching the Grey Cup final in 1980 and winning the East Division by a mile in 1981 with an 11–4–1 record under head coach Frank Kush, but were stunned by the Ottawa Rough Riders, who finished a distant second at 5–11, in the East final. The Tabbies' defense was very stout, talented and hungry that decade, led by standouts Grover Covington, Ben Zambiasi, Howard Fields and Mitchell Price. They were complemented very well on offense with quarterbacks Tom Clements and Mike Kerrigan throwing to Rocky DiPietro and Tony Champion leading to three straight trips to the Grey Cup in 1984, 1985 and 1986, the latter resulting in winning the title over the Edmonton Eskimos by a score of 39–15. In 1986, Ballard publicly called the Tiger-Cats a bunch of overpaid losers.[7] After the Tiger-Cats beat the Toronto Argonauts in the 1986 Eastern Final, Ballard said “You guys may still be overpaid, but after today, no one can call you losers.”[7] A few days later, the Tiger-Cats won the 1986 Grey Cup by beating the Edmonton Eskimos 39–15; Ballard said it was worth every penny. Hamilton returned to the Grey Cup in 1989, but were on the losing end of a 43–40 thriller to Saskatchewan.

The 1990s were marked by financial instability, and constant struggles on the field. Quarterback was a weak spot for the Ti-Cats, as in the first half of the decade had names like Don McPherson, Damon Allen, Timm Rosenbach, Matt Dunigan, Lee Saltz and Todd Dillon taking their turns at the pivot. Despite the excellent play of Eastern All Star Earl Winfield rewriting the team's record books for pass catching, Hamilton struggled to attract crowds to Ivor Wynne Stadium. It was not until 1998 with the arrival of head coach Ron Lancaster and the pitch-and-catch duo of Danny McManus and Darren Flutie plus the pass rush abilities of Joe Montford that led Hamilton back to the CFL's elite, reaching the Grey Cup finals in 1998 and winning the cup the following year.

Native Hamiltonian Bob Young has owned the Tiger-Cats since 2004, and although the team has had a resurgence in home attendance, corporate sponsorship plus a brand new "Tiger Vision" scoreboard at Ivor Wynne, it has struggled with its on field performance. Last place finishes both in 2005 (5–13) and 2006 (4–14), have resulted in an overhaul of the coaching staff for 2007. The moves still did not immediately help, as the team continued to lag in last place in 2007 and 2008 despite numerous apparent upgrades. In 2009, their fortunes turned around when they finished in second place in the East, qualifying for the playoffs for the first time in several years. However, they failed to win the Grey Cup, marking the 2000s as the first decade since the 1890s that Hamilton failed to do so.


Hamilton Tiger-Cats games are currently broadcast on CHML and CJXY-FM with announcers Rick Zamperin, John Salavantis, and Matt Holmes. Zamperin, CHML's sports director, became the play-by-play announcer in 2007 after six seasons as sideline reporter. Color commentator John Salavantis is a former football coach with the Tiger-Cats, Ottawa Rough Riders, Montreal Machine, and the Ottawa University Braves. CHML afternoon host Matt Holmes is the sideline reporter.

Tiger-Cats radio announcers

Years Flagship station Play-by-Play Color Commentator
1950–59 CHML Norm Marshall
1960–66 CHML Norm Marshall Perc Allen
1967–78 CHML Perc Allen John Michaluk
1979–83 CHAM Norm Marshall Bobby Dawson
1984–87 CHML Perc Allen John Michaluk
1988–92 CHML Bob Bratina John Michaluk
1993 CHML Bob Bratina John Salavantis and Bob Hooper
1994 CHML Bob Bratina John Bonk
1995 CHML Bob Bratina Bob Hooper
1996 CHML Bob Bratina Russ Jackson
1997–2001 CHML Bob Hooper Russ Jackson
2002 CHML Bob Bratina Guest Analysts
2003 CHML Bob Bratina John Salavantis
2004–06 CHML Tim Micallef John Salavantis
2007 CHML Rick Zamperin John Salavantis
2008 CHML/CJXY Rick Zamperin Ron Lancaster
2009–present CHML/CJXY Rick Zamperin John Salavantis

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 There is some contention regarding the number of times that this franchise has won the Grey Cup. Many people include all the teams that merged to form the team: Hamilton Tigers (5 championships), Hamilton Flying Wildcats (1 championship) and the Hamilton Alerts (1 championship) in addition to the 8 as the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, while others do not agree and only count the wins since the 1950 merger.
  2. 2.0 2.1 The Tiger-Cats were founded in 1950 as a merger of the Hamilton Tigers (founded 1869 as the Hamilton Foot Ball Club,[1] later merged with the Hamilton Alerts) and the Hamilton Flying Wildcats.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Canadian Football Timelines (1860 – present)". Football Canada. Retrieved 2006-12-23.[dead link] Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Football Canada timeline" defined multiple times with different content
  4. "Tiger-Cats History". Retrieved 2008-09-14.
  5. "NFL International historical results". National Football League. 2002-05-08. Archived from the original on 2005-02-07. Retrieved 2008-01-05.
  6. "Hamilton Tiger-Cats vs. Buffalo Bills, August 8, 1961,". Mark Bolding. Retrieved 2008-01-05.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 All Work and All Play: A Life in the Outrageous Sport, p.124, John Wiley and Sons Canada Ltd., Mississauga, ON, 2005, ISBN 0-470-83552-4

External links