Toronto Argonauts 150th Anniversary celebrations revving up


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Fifteen seconds into his first game as a member of the Toronto Argonauts, Michael (Pinball) Clemons knew he had found a home.

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His first touch of the football produced a 40-yard kickoff return which sounds like a great start to any career until Clemons finishes it with “and then I fumbled it.”

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“The very first time I touched the ball, I fumbled,” Clemons said Friday as the Argonauts unveiled the plans to celebrate their 150th season. “And it was like five different guys – Carl Brazley, Reggie Pleasant – all those different guys were there saying ‘Hey little man. Don’t you worry about it. We got you. We got your back.’

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“Those guys had my back at my worst so it was instant. Donny Moen, all those guys were amazing.”

Not every connection between man and team happens as quickly, but for whatever reason, those connections made by a man when he dons the double blue seem to be lasting.

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That kind of bond has helped the Argonauts survive a short-term, near crippling, ownership period by Sherwood Schwarz. It has allowed them to sustain operations though the penny-pinching days of Harry Ornest’s ownership and countless other crisis’.

Through it all they have won more Grey Cups (18) than any team in league history and remain the oldest professional sports team in North America still using its original name.

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In addition to celebrating a century and a half in business this season, the Argos will also begin the year as defending Grey Cup champs and as such will be honouring the first 10,000 fans through the gates for the home opener with a replica Grey Cup ring.

The June 18th home opener just happens to be against the QEW rival Hamilton Tiger-Cats making the unfurling of yet another championship banner that much sweeter.

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The second home game of the season on July 3 when the Argos host the B.C. Lions will see the All-Time Argos club increase for 24 to 26 with the induction of quarterback Damon Allen (2003-2007) and receiver Derrell ‘Mookie’ Mitchell.

Allen played just five seasons with the Argos but remains No. 3 on the all-time Argos passing yards list and was elected to the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2012.

Mitchell spent eight seasons in Toronto and is the Argos all-time leader in receiving yards and receiving touchdowns and is second in all-time Argos receptions.

Throughout the 150th Anniversary season the team will count down the Top 150 Moments in franchise history as selected by a panel of team historians as well as long-time club employees.

“This game has been good to so many people including me providing another chance, another opportunity,” Clemons said. “For that reason I think people have a tremendous affection for it.”

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