Esso Hockey since 1936Legends Of Hockey
Esso Hockey since 1936
Hewitson, Bobby

Hewitson, Bobby

A life in hockey cannot be measured merely in terms of player or official or builder. Bobby Hewitson was just such a man; a man who devoted himself to the game but whose devotion took on so many different forms that to call him by just one would not be fair.

Hewitson attended Jesse Ketchum School in Toronto, noteworthy for the number of great athletes it produced. He played lacrosse and football and won championships in both sports in 1913. Within a few years, his playing career gave way to a career as a multi-sport referee, in hockey, lacrosse and football. He worked by day as sports editor for the Toronto Evening Telegram, a job he maintained until 1957, and at night he officiated the various sports.

Hewitson was an NHL referee from 1927 to 1934, and during his career, refereed four Stanley Cup Finals (1929, 1930, 1931 and 1934). Both Bobby and colleague Michael Rodden were the referees for the NHL All-Star Game in Toronto on February 14, 1934. Known alternately as 'the Little Guy' or 'the Pony Referee,' reflecting his size (5'4" and 125 pounds), he was the referee the night of November 12, 1931, the opening of Maple Leaf Gardens.

Elmer Ferguson wrote in the Montreal Star that Bobby was fearless despite his size, he would skate right into a battle between bigger players and sharply ordered them to cut it out. And usually they did. He had the respect of every player in the game. They knew he was fair and competent.

After retiring as an official, he joined radio's Hot Stove Lounge during intermissions of Toronto Maple Leafs broadcasts where he remained for many years.

Overlapping these vocations, Hewitson also became secretary of the Canadian Rugby Union in 1922, a position he held for a quarter of a century. He was also a member of the committee that established Canada's Sports Hall of Fame, becoming the inaugural curator in 1957. Hewitson also served as the first curator of the Hockey Hall of Fame, a position he maintained until his retirement in 1967.

Bobby Hewitson helped to establish the Ontario Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association and the annual Sports Celebrity Dinner (today known as the Conn Smythe Sports Celebrity Dinner) and retired from all of these endeavours in 1967. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1963.

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