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Wed, 09.30.1908

Lew Hayman, Sports Businessman born

Lew Hayman

*Lew Hayman was born on this date in 1908. He was a Jewish-American sports executive.

Lewis Edward Hayman was born in New York City and grew up in Paterson, New Jersey. He attended high school at New York Military Academy. He played basketball at Syracuse University as a three-year starter and was named College Humor third-team All-American in 1931.

After graduating from college, Hayman moved to Canada to become assistant coach of the University of Toronto football team. He was an assistant to coach Buck McKenna with the Canadian Football Leagues Toronto Argonauts. When McKenna took ill during the 1932 season, Hayman became interim head coach. He was given the job outright for the 1933 season and, at the age of 25, guided the Argonauts to a Grey Cup championship. He followed that with back-to-back Grey Cup wins in 1937 and 1938. With World War II escalating, the major Canadian teams halted operations following the 1941 season, and Hayman joined the Royal Canadian Air Force as a flying officer. He was made coach of Toronto's RCAF football team and led the Toronto RCAF Hurricanes to the 1942 Grey Cup championship.

He was discharged after the war, having reached the rank of flight lieutenant. Hayman thought he had an agreement with the Argonauts to return as head coach when play resumed in 1945, but the deal fell through. Hayman had to settle for a job as coach of the Toronto Indians football team. One of the members of the Indians was future CFL commissioner Jake Gaudaur, who had also played under Hayman in the RCAF. Hayman partnered with two others the following season to form the Montreal Alouettes CFL team, with him as head coach, general manager, and part-owner.

He broke the league's color barrier in his first season by signing Herb Trawick, a black lineman. Other innovations introduced by the Alouettes under Hayman were playing night games, scheduling games on Sundays, and allowing games on television. During the off-season in 1946, Hayman became general manager of the Toronto Huskies professional basketball team, the first Canadian-based team in what evolved into the National Basketball Association (known as the Basketball Association America). When the team's first coach quit a month into the season, Hayman took his place for one game and is in the record books as an NBA coach for that single game. The Huskies disbanded after one money-losing season.

Hayman led the Alouettes to their first Grey Cup in 1949 — Hayman's fifth and final Grey Cup as head coach. Following the 1951 season, Hayman stepped down as coach but continued as general manager until the end of the 1954 season. Following the latter, he sold his share of the Alouettes and moved back to Toronto to become a stockbroker. Hayman's career outside of football was short-lived, as he became managing director of the Argonauts in 1956. Despite his previous success as head coach, the Argonauts became Eastern Conference doormats through this period, finishing last in their division nine times in 11 years from 1956 to 1966 before returning to respectability.

During that time, Hayman also became team president. He was elected president of the CFL in 1969 and served a one-year term. He became an executive consultant for the Argonauts in 1972. He planned to retire when the season ended but signed a three-year contract as team president, followed by ten years as vice chairman and director. Hayman again became president of the Argonauts in 1979 and remained in that role until Ralph Sazio succeeded him during the 1981 season. Hayman was elected to the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1975. The CFL award presented to the outstanding Canadian player in the East Division is called the Lew Hayman Trophy.

Hayman, who was one of the driving forces behind the Canadian Football League as a coach, general manager, team president, and league president, died on June 28, 1984, at age 75. 2004 he was inducted into the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.  

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