Ed “Butch” Songin of Norwood, former T-quarterback for the once champion Hamilton Ti-Cats in the Big-Four League and who pitched them to the Canadian Grey Cup title over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in ’55, got the call for action Saturday to return to the big-time after a year’s absence.
Coach Bill Swiackl of the Toronto Arguenots, desperate for a capable replacement since his passing ace, Tom Dublinski, one-time Detroit Lions signal caller. Injured himself in training, telephoned long distance to Songln.
Butch took a plane from Boston last Saturday afternoon. Toronto plays their opener next Saturday. Songln told this writer he had only five days In which to learn all the Arguenot plays and signals while limbering up his salary arm.
It was Gil Bouley, former Boston College teammate of Ed’s and now line coach for Toronto, who informed Coach Swiacki that the former passing star “Butch” Songln was on the loose back In the States.
“Butch” was elated at the chance and now has the opportunity for another season playing pro football in the fast-stepping Canadian Big-Four League with organizations representing Montreal, Hamilton, Ottawa and Toronto.
Songln had a wild and well-publicized two-year hitch with Hamilton. And it began to look as if the former Walpole great was in to stay for a pro career. But it was Ti-Cat coach Carl Voyles who altered Songin’s immediate plans.
Voyles wanted new blood and hired more collegiate stars from the States and those of Canada eligible for the professionals. “Butch” was offered a shaky contract that he disliked at the time so he became a free agent. Hamilton had a tough season and results showed the Ti-Cats trailed both Montreal and Toronto for the league playoffs.
Toronto lost by a mere two points to the Montreal Alouettes, Indicating that these Arguenots had something last Fall. With Butch -as a replacement for the Injured Tom Dublinskl, hopes may be rekindled for Toronto.
Is “Butch” In shape? On this he reports: “I’ve been doing some construction work this summer and feel pretty good.’’
The Arguenots have played some exhibitions to date and pry open their season Saturday. Songln could become a dangerous bundle of power despite the one-year lay-off.
Last year “Butch” said, “I only want a chance to got even with Coach Carl Voyles for losing faith in me after winning the Grey Cup for him. The Ti-Cats treated me well and I made a lot of friends there.
“When Hamilton won the trophy in ’53 the city went wild with glee. If there was an election then I’m sure I would have been chosen mayor. Maybe Voyles wanted an all-round specialist but I gave him my best on down on the field.”
“Butch” was counted out rather cruelly for only one other quarterback, Sam ‘(Rifle) Etchevorry of Montreal,- bested Songin in the statistical department.
When with the champion Hamilton Ti-Cats, Songin unfolded a remarkable year in their back field. In the nine regular games of the season and three postseason play-offs against Montreal and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers for the coveted trophy. “Butch” threw a total of 326 passes, completing 165 of them for 2243 yards.
Fifteen went for touchdowns and he made five himself near the end of that season. He averaged .506 in passing and had only 26 intercepted. “Butch” was chiefly on the offensive team for Hamilton and sparked drives hitting ballhawks like Lou Kus-serow and Bernie Custis.
Songln threw an average of 34 passes a game and averaged 29 yards on his toes on everything he tried. Only Sam Etche-verry, brilliant Denver, Colorado, ace bested Songin the next season winning back the Big-Four League title from Hamilton. The Rifle, as he is known, had a terrific season.
A passer rates very high in Canadian football. A kicker is great but anyone who can toss those aerials with a measure of aplomb in the fast moving, wide open football game as played In Canada, simply rates.
Bill Swiacki, Toronto coach, was once a Bridgewater resident. He played football for Columbia and the team that defeated Army in the upset game of the year.
Gil Bouley played with “Butch” when at Boston College. Bouley was an All-Star line-man as Songin became a New England standout. “Butch” played in the North-South post-season game that year. He was offered a sensational football contract by the Cleveland Browns but which was denied Songln the following year when it was learned he hurt himself.
Songin then tried with the Baltimore Colts. They cut him off after some practice. It was the best thing that could have happened to him. But Songin didn’t think so at the time. He had a family back home and needed a job.
He and a friend heard about Canadian football and gave it a try. Hamilton, needing a passing quarterback, grabbed Songln in a hurry. They signed him for the balance of the season and the “Import” as American players then were called, made good on the sensational side.
So, popular is “Butch” in Norwood, and especially Walpole his former hometown, that when he was playing in Hamilton a bus load of friends and relatives came up to see him play in one of the games.
Nothing would please “Butch” more than to make his next bid a good one for Toronto. “Butch” has a lot of fight left to him, and he hates being called all-done. If Toronto says “Butoh” is worth a try, they can’t be very wrong off his past performances before Canadian crowds who’ll quickly, remember the name of Songln.
By FRANK KARSHIS