Zenon Andrusyshyn deserves more credit

GEORGE GROSS, TORONTO SUN

, Last Updated: 8:17 AM ET

What have you done for us lately?

That's a popular saying, not only in the business world but also in sports. It recently came to mind when they announced -- and honoured -- the all-time Argos team.

Many deserving players such as Dick Shatto, Jim Stillwagon, Jim Corrigall and Pinball Clemons were included.

Surprisingly, Zenon (The Big Z) Andrusyshyn was not.

I have known Andrusy-shyn, the kid who was born in a German refugee camp, since 1971, when he graduated high school from Oakville Trafalgar and was signed by the Boatmen.

For six seasons, Andrusyshyn kicked for the Argos before trying the skills of his toes with the Kansas City Chiefs in 1978 and then returning to the Scullers for another three years.

I once wrote that Big Z was a Bandit long before he became ordained by the Southern Baptist Church in Nashville in 1991.

A Tampa Bay Bandit of the defunct United States Football League, that is.

An honoured member of the Oakville Hall of Fame, Andrusyshyn, now a Master of Biblical Studies, once punted the football for a CFL-record 108 yards against the Edmonton Eskimos.

In total, he registered 1,249 punts for 56,458 yards but that, obviously, was not enough to move the selectors to include the 6-foot-2 kicker on the all-time Argos list, which is a shame.

Andrusyshyn, like several other Argos stars, always has been available for charity work in Toronto, mainly when it came to helping challenged youngsters, such as the kids at Variety Village.

The late Dick Shatto, whose daughter Cindy was a world-class diver and represented Canada in many international events, always was also inclined to help those who could not help themselves.

I remember one particular event in which Shatto and the Argos played a prominent role.

A few years ago, I was asked by the staff of Variety Village if I could assemble a team of professional athletes (I was the only amateur) to play a basketball game against Variety Village's wheelchair kids team.

With the help of Shatto, we gathered about nine physically well prepared Argos, weakened only by my presence on the team, to play the wheelchair-skilled Variety Village kids.

A couple of minutes before tipoff, I whispered to Shatto that we should take it easy on the youngsters.

Little did I know about their talent of manoeuvreing the wheelchairs.

Instead of us taking it easy on them, it was the kids who took it easy on our huffing and puffing team, beating us by some 27 points.

As I'm writing these lines, it strikes me that while the selectors of the all-time Argos team overlooked Zenon Andrusyshyn, I will ask him for an autographed picture to be used as a special prize for a donor who sends in a contribution to Variety Village by way of my Christmas column dedicated to the wheelchair champions, which will start in the next couple of weeks in these pages.

Certainly, Big Z would be on my all-time Argos charity team.

GROSSLY ABBREVIATED

Three very successful social events took place last week in Toronto. On Thursday some of Canada's top journalists were honoured at a luncheon with Sports Media Canada's various awards. Among the winners were Ron Harrison and Christie Blatchford, who walked away with Achievement Awards, as well as Michael Farber, Dan Shulman and Bernard Brault for annual crafts, Leila Boyadjian, winner of the Adidas Journalism Student award, and Bryan Colangelo, winner of the Magna Sports Executive of the Year award. Several Canadian sports icons attended the luncheon, including former Crazy Canuck Ken Read, former hockey superstar Red Kelly, Mississauga mayor Hazel McCallion, who was the first female professional hockey player, Canadian swim legend Alex Bauman, sailing executive and former IOC member Paul Henderson, track star Debbie Van Kiekebelt and several others, including OPP Commissioner Julian Fantino ... That evening, the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame, searching for a new permanent home, honored eight inductees --six athletes and two builders -- for their achievements in the world of sports ... Friday, Toronto Italia Soccer Club saluted its 50th anniversary by showcasing former Toronto Italia kickers Bruno Bertolin, Beppi Schiabel and Danny Guerra.


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