For more than 50 years Milt Dunnell was a legend among Canada’s most eminent sports writers and columnists. He covered every major sport from horse racing, baseball, football and golf to hockey, boxing and the Olympic Games, traveling the world in the process. He covered the World Series, Kentucky Derby, Grey Cup, Stanley Cup and the Olympics from 1952 at Helsinki through 1968. For readers of The Toronto Star, his byline guaranteed the well-crafted words of a superb wordsmith. Astuteness, integrity and wry amusement were trademarks of his reporting style. On December 24, 2005, he celebrated his 100th birthday.
Dunnell was born in 1905 on a farm in Downie Township near St. Mary’s, Ont. After a brief stint in the 1920s as a news reporter for his home-town St. Mary’s Journal Argus, he joined the Stratford Beacon Herald where he went on to become sports editor. In 1942 he joined the Toronto Star as a sports reporter and in 1949 was appointed sports editor. He retired as the sports editor for The Star in 1970 and reduced his output to five columns a week. Right up until the time he stopped writing three columns a week at age 94 in the 1990s, Dunnell stayed current and perhaps because his amazing sense of recall was so accurate, he never fell into the good-old-days trap. Integrity is a word that arises quite often when people discussed “Uncle Miltie”. The late Conn Smythe said: “He has guts, industry and integrity”. As always, he downplayed anything about himself. When asked if he set any standards, Dunnell answered, “No”. He was admired by all those he wrote about, favorably and otherwise. At Woodbine and Greenwood he had as many friends on the backstretch as he had in the clubhouse.
Dunnell in 1992 was named St. Mary’s first honorary citizen. In June, 2006, North York Community Council officially renamed Bond Park baseball field in his honor – Milt Dunnell Field. Milt along with friends, colleagues and family members attended the dedication ceremony. In 1988 he received the Jack Graney Award for his contribution to baseball in Canada and in 1991 was inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame.