By Brian Snelgrove
Nearly 50 years later it remains one of the most lopsided trades in CFL history.
The year was 1960 and following a stellar seven year career with the Montreal Alouettes, Harold “Prince Hal” Patterson was sent to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in return for defensive lineman Don Paquette (the late Bernie Faloney was supposed to be part of the transaction but invoked a no-trade clause in his contract and stayed with the Tabbies). Patterson didn’t miss a beat as he proceeded to become an eastern all-star for five straight seasons over the next seven years with the Ticats. He played in six Grey Cups with the Black and Gold, winning on three occasions (1963, ‘65 and ‘67). His name still occupies a spot in the Grey Cup record books with 580 career receiving yards.
Patterson was an exceptional athlete at The University of Kansas where he starred in basketball, baseball and football. He was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles of the NFL in 1954 but opted instead to cross the border and join the Alouettes. “I thought the league was better suited to my style of play,” says the former star receiver. “It was more wide-open and they seemed to throw the ball more.”
Patterson was a CFL all-star with Hamilton for three straight seasons (1962-64). He was the Eastern Conference nominee for Most Outstanding Player Award in 1962. In a game against Saskatchewan that same year he had 228 receiving yards, third most in one game in Ticat history. More than half a century later he still holds the record for most yards receiving in a game (338) a record he set while with Montreal in a game against Hamilton in 1956. In 2006 Hal Patterson was named the 13the best player in CFL history by TSN.
As for the “Prince Hal” nickname, “I’m not really sure why,” says Patterson. “Some sportswriter in Montreal gave it to me.”
The Kansas native, now 78, was inducted in to the CFL Hall of Fame in 1971. Upon his retirement he returned to Kansas and currently resides in the town of Burdett. Married with three children he keeps busy working for the township grading roads – a skill he developed working with his brothers in Rosedale, Kansas following his final season in 1967.
Asked to name the toughest defensive back he faced, Patterson says: “They were all tough.”
The Hall of Famer returns to Canada occasionally and has attended CFL games in both Montreal and Hamilton over the past few decades.
“The 60’s were a memorable time,” says Patterson. “I enjoyed playing with guys like Faloney, Mosca, Henley, Barrow and all the others. There are no regrets and I no longer miss it. I have very fond recollections of my time in the CFL.”
So too do Ticat fans and indeed, CFL fans, of Hal “Prince Hal” Patterson.