R.I.P. George Storey

Lesser known Storey enjoyed quite the life

By Danny Gallagher
Canadian Baseball Network

The Storey name in Barrie, Ont. is the stuff of legends.

There was Red Storey, the storied CFL player, lacrosse legend, NHL referee, TV commentator and celebrated amateur baseball player. 

There was George, the fancy-dan player on numerous Barrie baseball and fastball teams and an assistant coach with the Barrie Flyers in the golden era of junior hockey. 

Red may have been more famous, taller, bigger and older by nine years but just the same, George held his own in the various venues of sports and became an astute, wealthy businessman.

George was 6-foot-3 and weighed 188 pounds. Red was 6-foot-4 and weighed 215. That’s how they lined up. George was also a pretty decent football player, who caught on one season with Toronto’s Balmy Beach football team. George, then only 10, was also on the end of the bench as an equipment assistant handing out towels when Red scored three touchdowns in 12 minutes of the fourth quarter as the Argos won the 1938 Grey Cup game. 

George Storey died earlier this month at Southlake Regional Health Centre in Newmarket of respiratory problems, not long after he was accidentally bumped while watching a Santa Claus parade, causing him to fall down and break one of his hips and one of his shoulders.

“My dad was an outfielder, a centre fielder,’’ his son Dean recalled the other day. “He had wheels, tremendous speed. He was a track runner. He had a strong throwing arm and as a hitter, he had tremendous power and he was very patient at the plate. Him and Red were very strong men.’’

There’s the story Dean Storey likes to tell about the legendary baseball brawl involving his father George during a game between arch-rivals Barrie and Orillia when George was about 27 years old, just when Barbara French, a girl whom he started to date, was working at the Chrysler Dodge dealership. This one night, the car salesmen wanted to leave work early, to go and see George play.

“My dad ran into from third and the catcher was receiving the ball,’’ Dean said. “My dad told me that he was either going to be tagged out or he was going the run catcher over. So he ran the catcher over, the catcher dropped the ball and there was a bench-clearing brawl.

“During the brawl, an umpire and couple of other people were trying to hold George back and stop the brawling. Some guy by threw a sucker punch, got in a free shot and dad said the guy split his head above the eyebrow. My dad chased him right out of the ballpark. He said this guy couldn’t hit his way out of a paper bag. He’s still running out of the ballpark today.’’

In the off-season when he wasn’t playing baseball, George Storey was an assistant coach under legendary head coach and team owner Hap Emms when the powerhouse Flyers won the Memorial Cup in both 1951 and 1953 as an affiliate of the Boston Bruins in the days of NHL sponsorship of junior teams. 

The 1951 club featured Jerry Toppazzini, Réal Chevrefils, Jim Morrison and Leo Labine. The 1953 squad included Doug Mohns, Don McKenney, Orval Tessier, Skip Teal and this 15-year-old by the name of Don Cherry. Yes, that Don Cherry.

“Hap used to allow my dad to run the on-ice practices,’’ Dean Storey said. “He had the command and respect of the players. My dad remembers when he coached the Flyers in a game in Quebec and the game ended in a 2-2. Hap told my dad that getting a tie in the province of Quebec was just as good as a win because with the goal judges and referees, you were down 1-0 at the start of the game.’’

Storey was an assistant coach in the days when such people weren’t officially recognized. When this writer went searching online for information about Storey, he ran across a photo of him smiling in a sports jacket and a white turtleneck posing in a team photo shortly before the team played in the 1951 Memorial Cup tournament. 

Everyone in the photo was in street clothes. Yet, in the official team photo with everyone in uniform, George Storey was nowhere to be found.

“Nowadays, assistant coaches are a big part of a team. They get listed in the team guide,’’ Dean Storey said. “My dad said the biggest mentor in his life was Hap Emms. My dad said the two best junior players he was ever involved with were Jim Morrison and Rick Hampton.’’

Later in life, George Storey would carve out a successful living as a long-time executive in the pipeline industry and then as president of his own dynamite company Shaw Pipe Industries for 35 years. He was fortunate to have travelled throughout North America to Copenhagen to Italy to South America during his career as an entrepreneur in the energy industry. Shaw Pipe Industries’ successor ShawCor and its subsidiaries boast operations in 20 countries.

Storey was predeceased by his wife Barbara, brother Red and sisters Irene, Ruth and Helen. He leaves daughter Janet (Ed), sons Dean (Geri) and John (Ashton) and granddaughters Danielle and Natasha; and many nieces and nephews.

Donations in memory of Storey may be made to either the Yellow Brick House emergency shelter for abused women in Richmond Hill or The Lung Association. 

“My dad had the attitude that you take and give in life,’’ Dean said. “But he said to give back more than you take.’’

The passions of Storey’s heart included helping anyone whom he crossed paths with. He reached out to thousands of people with his charity.

Storey’s famous lines which epitomized his life were, “How can I help you? What can I do for you? Do you need anything?’’