February 14, 2024

Blue Bombers mourn the passing of Gerry James

The Winnipeg Football Club is once again saddened to learn of the passing of another Blue Bombers icon in Gerry James, who died Tuesday at the age of 89.

News of death came just hours after the club learned Ken Ploen had also died at the age of 88.

“It’s been a difficult couple of days for the Blue Bombers with the losses of Ken Ploen and Gerry James – two iconic figures in this franchise’s long and storied history,” said Winnipeg Football Club President & CEO Wade Miller. “Gerry James was a two-sport star during his playing days and his skill, his grit and his toughness were trademarks of those legendary Bud Grant-coached teams of the late 1950s and early 1960s.

“The WFC would like to extend our deepest condolences to his family and friends.”

Born in Regina, James was the son of another Winnipeg Football Club legend in Eddie ‘Dynamite’ James and earned the nickname ‘Kid Dynamite’ for his prowess on the football field. He was also an exceptional hockey player and made his National Hockey League debut with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1955. He played in 149 NHL games and is the only player to suit up for both the Grey Cup and the Stanley Cup in the same season.

A product of Kelvin High School, James joined the Blue Bombers in 1952 at just 17 years of age and played through the 1963 season. A running back and kicker, he played in six Grey Cup games beginning in 1953 and was part of the four championship teams in 1958, 1959, 1961 and 1962. James was the first winner of the CFL’s Most Outstanding Canadian Player award in 1954 and was again honoured in 1957.

He scored 19 touchdowns in 1957, a club record that stood until 2002 when Milt Stegall established a Canadian Football League record with 23 scores. His 18 rushing touchdowns in ’57 stood as a league record until Mike Pringle scored 19 times along the ground in 2000. His 63 career touchdowns ranks fourth in Blue Bombers history behind Stegall (147), Charles Roberts (79) and Leo Lewis (75).

After his playing days James turned to coaching hockey, working the bench in Switzerland before coaching Yorkton, Melville and Estevan in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, and the Moose Jaw Warriors of the Western Hockey League.

James was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1981, the Blue Bomber Hall of Fame in 1984 and the club’s Ring of Honour in 2016.