Champion Blue to get their due

KIRK PENTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:06 AM ET

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the late 1950s and early 1960s got lots of glory, plenty of slaps on the back, some cuff links, parades and a little bit of cash from the CFL for winning four Grey Cups in five years.

The one thing they didn't get, however, were rings, a physical reward that wasn't common in that era.

Now, thanks to Leo Ledohowski and his Canad Inns Corporation, the 40 or so living players, coaches, trainers and office staff from Bud Grant's dynasty are going to get their due this fall.

Each member of the 1958, 1959, 1961 and 1962 championship teams will receive a sparkling new Grey Cup ring at a dinner ceremony dubbed "Ring in a Night of Nostalgia" at Canad Inns-Polo Park on Oct. 18.

"It'll be great for them, it'll be great for the spirit of the Bombers, and it'll be great for Winnipeg," Ledohowski said. "That was a great time. These were extraordinary events.

"Four Grey Cups in five years. It is amazing. And they should have some physical manifestation -- and the rings are totally appropriate -- because all Grey Cup winners now have a Grey Cup ring." It was the local Bomber alumni, specifically Nick Miller and Ken Ploen, who got the ball rolling on this project last fall when they noticed that the Hamilton Tiger-Cats received rings for winning CFL championships in the 1950s and '60s.

The Tiger-Cats, after all, were the Bomber victims in each of Winnipeg's four Grey Cup victories between '58 and '62.

"Our nemesis, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, got Grey Cup rings, and we kept kicking their butts," said Ploen, the Hall of Famer who was the winning quarterback in three of Winnipeg's title games and a safety in the other.

"You can sit and talk all you want about how you won, you were in this many Grey Cups, this happened and that happened, but when you can stand and talk to somebody and put forth the ring ... they are very impressive rings."

Ledohowski didn't hesitate when the Bomber alumni's proposal landed on his desk last fall. He contacted Jostens, the maker of 27 of 41 Super Bowl rings, and the company produced a 10-karat, yellow-gold gem.

The player's name and number will appear on one side, the years he won the Grey Cup will be on the other, and the Bomber 'W' will adorn the top.

"It's wonderful, and it's beyond most of our players' expectations," said Steve Patrick, who played on all four championship teams. "I don't think it was expected. We're grateful to Canad Inns for coming through."

Tickets for the dinner, which Grant is expected to attend, go on sale Monday. Ticket order forms are available at www.canadinns.com, and proceeds will go to breast cancer research.

The Bomber alumni has lost track of three players from those championship teams: John Varone, Joe Williams and Carver Shannon. If you know of their whereabouts, contact the Sun at the e-mail address below.


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