The era of the multi-sport athlete competing at a high level in two or more athletic endeavours, it seems, is a thing of the past.
In North America, there was Deion Sanders who is the only individual to play in the Super Bowl and the World Series and also the only athlete to hit a home run and score a touchdown in the same week.
Bo Jackson was a Major League Baseball All-Star Most Valuable Player and a National Football League number one draft pick.
There was also Jim Brown, who is a football and lacrosse Hall of Famer and Jim Thorpe, considered the greatest multi-sport athlete ever.
The Caribbean has also produced its fair share of exceptional multi-sport athletes. Among them were Guyanese-born Maurice Moore and Eddie Caetano, both of whom passed away in the last month in the Greater Toronto Area.
Moore, who many claim possessed the best ball sense of any athlete in his era, played soccer, cricket, table tennis and field hockey at Queen’s College where he graduated in 1951. The fearless tackler and centre-half went on to captain Victoria Football Club and Guyana in soccer and was a national singles champion and Guyana representative for many years in tennis. He captained Invaders, which was the top tennis club at the time, and combined with Godfrey Denny to form a fearsome doubles pair that was unbeaten for 11 years up until 1961 when Denny migrated to Jamaica.
“He was one of the best when it came to soccer,” recalled Colin Cave, who represented the Catholic Youth Organization before coming to Canada. “He could play any position and he used both feet well.”
As the cricket captain of the then British Guiana Cricket Club (BGCC), which later became Guyana Sports Club, Moore used his influence to attract late West Indies opener, Roy Fredericks, to the club to play alongside Robert Christiani and Clyde Walcott – they are both deceased – prior to Fredericks moving on to Demerara Cricket Club.
Moore was Toronto Cricket Academy director Brian Hale’s first captain at the Thomas Lands club.
“Maurice was quiet, easy going and someone I enjoyed playing for,” said Hale. “He certainly played a role in my development as a person and a cricketer.”
A qualified accountant and chartered secretary, Moore worked in the Guyana civil service and with the Demerara Bauxite Company (DBC) before migrating to Canada in 1971 where he was employed by DBC’s parent company, the Aluminum Limited of Canada (ALCAN), and later IBM.
Moore coached a Guyana team in the local soccer league in Toronto in the 1970s, played tennis in Canada and was an ardent chess player and accomplished pianist who loved music.
“This was indeed a talented man with a wide variety of interests,” said retired Ontario judge Vibert Lampkin who delivered the eulogy at a memorial for Moore last Saturday.
Lampkin and Moore became friends in the early 1950s when they were members of the Penumbrians fraternity that included the late Guyana president, Desmond Hoyte, former chancellor of the judiciary, Aubrey Bishop and ex-Foreign Affairs Minister, Rashleigh Jackson.
Fellow Penumbrians Vivian Wong and Carl Benjamin attended the memorial.
Moore, who would have turned 80 in March, is survived by his children Roger, Trevor and Karen, all of whom reside in the Greater Toronto Area.
A 1947 graduate of St. Stansilaus College, Caetano was an exceptional ball player who represented Guyana at soccer and field hockey.
His hockey teammates at the club and national level included Toronto resident Brian Sadler. They also played soccer for Georgetown Football Club (GFC).
“I was honoured to play alongside Eddie for Guyana and together we were members of the 1963 GFC FA Cup Winners team,” said Sadler. “He was a great father and husband and outstanding athlete.”
Vic Walker, who captained Yorkshire Cricket Club in the Toronto & District Cricket Association’s first division competition, said his high school classmate was a very versatile athlete.
“I invited Eddie, who was vacationing here at the time, to open the batting with me in a game,” Walker said. “He did not take part in the sport in many years and he had to borrow my wife’s running shoes to play. Eddie, with his very correct British style, made a brilliant 100 much to the delight of our team and the spectators at Rosedale Park.”
In his twilight years, he played golf and ten-pin bowling.
Caetano, who was 81 at the time of his death, is survived by his wife of 59 years, Victoria, and son Errol, who defeated Barbadian Robert Earle to win the men’s singles title and teamed up with George Braithwaite to capture the doubles crown at the 1972 Caribbean table tennis championship in Port-of-Spain.
By RON FANFAIR