Gordon Kenneth Little
Born: July 30, 1929 (Winnipeg)
Died: September 12, 2013 (Kelowna, B.C.)
Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame (1998)
Manitoba Baseball Hall of Fame (1998)
Ken Little starred in five sports in his native Winnipeg. He set schoolboy sprint records, some lasting more than a decade, before becoming a champion sprinter at the University of Manitoba, where he ran the 100-yard dash in 9.9 seconds. He once scored five goals for the Winnipeg Buffaloes in hockey’s Allan Cup playoffs, had a tryout as an outfielder with the Philadelphia Athletics, and proved an elusive target when playing junior football with the Weston Wildcats. He capped his athletic career by twice competing at the Brier for the Canadian curling championship with the Manitoba rink skippered by Bruce Hudson.
Little was Manitoba’s dominant sprinter in the immediate post-war years, winning six city and six provincial titles in the 110- and 220-yard sprints.
He was a member of the Manitoba junior football championship team in 1949.
In 1950, he travelled by train to Philadelphia for a four-day tryout at Shibe Park with the Athletics. He later starred at home with the St. Boniface Native Sons, who he helped lead to four senior titles.
A right-winger in hockey, Little played junior hockey with the Winnipeg Canadians (scoring 22 goals in 29 games in 1948-49). A left-handed shot, easy to spot for his red hair, he skated for the Winnipeg Buffaloes senior team. In 1951-52, he played for Streatham in the British National League, the speedy winger recording 41 points in 30 games. (One of those games was postponed by the death of George VI on Feb. 6, 1952.) His presence helped Streatham win the Autumn Cup.
He said he needed to be fast to survive.
“At 150 pounds, you had to have some speed, or you wouldn’t make it,” he once said.
After the season in England, Little played senior hockey with the Winnipeg Maroons, winning consecutive senior titles in 1953 and ’54.
After the knee injury ended his football and hockey careers in 1954, he took up curling. As the second for Hartel’s rink, he gained a reputation as a solid front-end player. The Manitoba rink finished third at the 1964 Brier and second in the 1967 Brier.
In 2000, Little was one of five athletes nominated for consideration as Manitoba’s male amateur athlete of the century, an honour won by volleyball’s Garth Pischke.
Away from the sporting arena, Little was a chartered accountant with Deloitte for 37 years. He retired to Kelowna, B.C., where he continued to curl and golf. He died on Sept. 12, aged 84.