Edmonton lost one of it's more colorful sportsmen, with the passing of Arthur Babe McAvoy, Friday October 18th at the Grey Nuns Hospital, after a brief illness.
Born March 7, 1933 in Edmonton, Babe was an original Medicine Hat Tigers during the 1950-51 WCJHL season. When the Oil Kings were admitted to the league for the 51-52 season, he returned home, toiling for the Oil Kings for the next 2 years, until his graduation from junior hockey. It was a modest start to the legend of our Babe
For the next 2 seasons, the speedy right winger played intermediate hockey in the Edmonton City League. During the 54-55 season, his play caught the eye of Bud Poile, the GM and sometimes Playing-coach of the Edmonton Flyers, of the then-Pro Western Hockey League. His club was hit hard by injuries, but Poile didn't put the SOS out to the parent Detroit Red Wings; he called our man Babe. Would he be interested in a Pro Try-out? Rules at that time only allowed for amateurs to play 3 games and retain their amateur status. More than 3 games meant you must turn pro.
Although his stats didn't light up the board, his play warranted a Pro contract, and Babe stayed the year with the Flyers before returning to the City League in 55-56.
He then traded in his jersey for the white & black trim of a hockey referee, where over numerous seasons he built a reputation of being fair but firm, because he had a good feel for the game. Babe said he always enjoyed a good story, and every time he dished out a penalty, he could count on hearing at least one, plus a new swear word from one of the guys.
Golfers across the province also became very accustomed to seeing Babe's smiling face during the summer months. He usually manned the Morgex Insurance 2-Pin Par 3 Hole-In-One contests at many charity golf tournaments. Highly thought of in golfing circles, he also served for many years as one of Alberta's representatives on the RCGA board. The present Oil Kings Alumni tournament honours Babe each year, with the presentation of The Babe McAvoy Trophy, which goes to the team with the Low Team Gross Score.
Babe was predeceased by his parents, wife Judy, and brother George, of Penticton Vees fame. He is survived by brother Doug McAvoy of Edmonton, brother Jack McAvoy of Manning, and his 2 sons, Dean & Scott of Edmonton.
A celebration of Babe's life was heldTuesday October 22, at 1:00 PM at the Millwoods Golf Course. To no one's surprise, attendance was over-flowing.