Hall of Famer
Inducted in 1976
Bob Abate created a playground for winners. This dedicated coach, mentor, and community leader's association with Canadian amateur sport was life-long. During a fifty-year career, he coached 57 amateur baseball, softball, hockey, basketball, and rugby teams (all affectionately known as "Lizzies") to win over 200 city, provincial, and national championship titles. He was a talented football, hockey, and baseball player who took over the roles of Playground Trainer and Supervisor in downtown Toronto's Elizabeth District in 1914. At that time, the Elizabeth Playground area was overrun with youth gangs and racial intolerance. But Abate's unique combination of visionary spirit and disciplined application transformed groups of despairing youth into focused athletes, and their gang fights into true athletic competition. This set the stage for what would become a half decade of inspiration, positive achievement, and role modeling for young Canadians. Abate developed star athletes and built champion teams in all classes. A few of the notable athletes included Warren Snyder, Lionel Conacher, Kev Durnham, Sammy Gold, Harry Sniderman, Bill Sniderman, Nig Eisen, Harold Starr, Vernie Forbes, Chuck Reeves, and Alex Levinsky. On May 23rd, 1990, the Elizabeth Recreation Centre was re-named the Bob Abate Community Recreation Centre. In continued tribute, the Lizzies' Oldtimers Association continues to meet once a year to carry on their old coach's legacy of rewarding achievement in amateur sport.