March 17, 2015

Luck Of The Irish: King Clancy

It is one of the most unique game worn Toronto Maple Leafs sweater in hockey history. It sold in 2009 at for nearly $38,000!

The story behind this green wool sweater, complete with the shamrock on the back, is amazing. It was actually worn in a league game back on St. Patrick's Day, 1934. While the rest of the Leafs wore their familiar blue, King Clancy wore this very special outfit for the first period. In the second and third Clancy had to return to his normal jersey as Lester Patrick, coach of the opposing New York Rangers, complained about the alternate jersey on the ice.

Why was the impish Clancy wearing this jersey? The Leafs were hosting "King Clancy Night." Clancy was as big a star as Toronto has ever seen. They honored him with the night, the jersey, and a number of stereotypical gifts that would keep any Irish eyes smiling.

Several junior players stepped on to the ice through large potato props. Red Horner emerged from a boxing glove. New York Ranger's star Bill Cook hid in a shamrock. All the while the Knights of Columbus Minstrel Band played Irish music.

But the highlight of the night was when Clancy was introduced to the sold out arena. There has never been anything quite like it in sports before or since.

Here's Clancy's own memories of the event:

When my turn finally came, the lights were all turned out and, dressed in royal robes and wearing a crown, I was ushered in on a big throne pulled by Hap Day. As the float reached the middle of the rink, I got hit in the face with a handful of soot from (Hap) Day and (Charlie) Conacher. When the lights came on, I looked like Santa Claus but my face was pitch black. It took me two or three days to get that stuff off.

This was a wonderful night to give anybody and I have wonderful memories of it. There is also a grandfather's clock at home which is worth more than any amount of money because of the inscription on it: 'From the Toronto Maple Leafs to King Clancy on St. Patrick's Night 1934.'

Here's some photographic evidence of the evening:

The Leafs won the game 3-2. Talk about luck of the Irish.

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