Tony Techko was a high-school teacher, coach, and administrator who is remembered as one of our region’s foremost sports historians. Through various endeavours, he promoted, publicized, and preserved the excellent sporting history of Windsor and Essex County.
He attended Gordon McGregor Elementary School, where he played on basketball and softball teams. Later, at Walkerville Collegiate, he played Junior and Senior basketball for Tartan teams that reached the WSSA semifinals.
Techko was a fine baseball player in his youth, beginning in the early 1940s. To start, he played on three consecutive Windsor Park League Championship teams for the George Avenue Park team. He also played in the Mic Mac Juvenile League with Walkerville Sport Shop and Palace Cubs in 1944 and ’45 respectively.
In 1946, Techko pitched for White Trucking in the Windsor Federation Junior League. In 1947, he remained in the league but switched to the Wares team. That season, he pitched two no-hitters and narrowly missed a third. His first no-hitter, a game against Erie Auto Sales, was nearly a perfect game. Techko recorded a 2-0 shutout victory, struck out 15 batters, and issued only one walk. He faced 28 batters, one over the minimum for a nine-inning game. The second no-hitter that season was against LaSalle. If not for an infielder losing a popup in the sun, he would have had a third.
Techko returned to the Mic Mac Juvenile League, where he won back-to-back titles in 1947 and ’48 with Chatham Lodi Recaps. Notably, he played on the 1947 team with future National Hockey League Player Glen Skov.
The Brooklyn Dodgers, Pittsburgh Pirates, Philadelphia Phillies, and St. Louis Browns all showed interest in Techko as a pitcher. The Phillies won out and signed him to professional contract with the (baseball) Toronto Maple Leafs of the International League. In 1948, he attended spring training at Fort Lauderdale. As more and more players were sent down to Toronto from the Major League team’s camp, the Phillies re-assigned Techko to a Minor League camp in Raeford, North Carolina. There, a foot injury he sustained in the 1947 season with the Windsor Wares flared up. His professional baseball career was over at age 18.
After returning to Windsor, Techko pitched briefly for Windsor Ryancretes, coached by Russ Nantais, in the Detroit Federation Class “A” League. Techko’s Ryancretes defeated Helin Tackle in the playoff finals.
Techko graduated from Assumption College in 1952. He went on to teach for 30 years at various Ontario high schools, including Toronto Vaughan Road, Windsor Patterson, Windsor Forster, Windsor Riverside, Windsor Herman, and Windsor Walkerville before finishing his career with a second spell at Windsor Riverside.
While teaching, Techko was regularly involved in sports as an administrator and coach. He was President of the Windsor Secondary Schools Association (WSSA) Coaches Association for several years in the 1960s. Techko was also Secretary for the Southwestern Ontario Secondary Schools Athletic Association (SWOSSA) and, at the provincial level, participated in the OFSAA Director’s Meetings from 1966 to ’60.
Techko teamed with Jim Fleming, Val Motruk, Ilkka Oksanen, Paul Valentine, and Tom Curgin to administer Windsor’s highly successful International Coaches’ Clinic, which was held annually at the University of Windsor in the 1960s and ’70s. Collectively, the men were known as the “Silver Six.” The Clinic held lectures by several prominent coaches, including Adolf Rupp, Jack Ramsey, Al McGuire, and Fred Taylor on basketball and Weeb Ewbank, Jerry Burns, Frank Clair, John Pont, Tony Mason, and Henry Bullough on football. Further coaches spoke on other sports.
Techko chaired the committee that awarded the Bruno Bitkowski Trophy from its inception in 1966 until it was retired in ’86. The honour was given to the most gentlemanly male athlete in WSSA on an annual basis.
As a high school basketball coach, Techko guided the Forster Spartans to a SWOSSA “A” title in 1963, defeating the Herman Green Griffins 45-38 in the championship game. It was an extremely satisfying and memorable victory for two reasons. First, Forster had lost to Herman 52-43 a week earlier in the WSSA finals. Next, the SWOSSA win was achieved with an undermanned squad. The Spartans were missing two starters in that tournament due to injury: Doug Brown and Jim Mills. The other starters were Gary McDonald, Gerry Schen, and Brian Brookbanks.
Forster’s victory earned it the right to advance to the OFSAA All-Ontario Championships in Kingston. The team lost its opening game to Toronto Runnymede 62-52, relegating it to the consolation bracket. Forster lost to Ottawa Glebe 68-50 in the finals after a 50-44 semi-final win over Kingston Queen Elizabeth.
Techko would later coach the Herman midget boys to a WSSA title in 1970. He was a panel member for several years for the University of Windsor Christmas High School Basketball Tournament.
While his playing and coaching careers were impressive, Techko is honoured here for his remarkable work as a sports historian. An avid follower of local sports, he accumulated an extensive collection of information and photographs of athletes from Windsor and Essex County. His collection features hundreds of photos and thousands of documents, including news and feature articles, letters, and memorabilia.
Techko was involved with the Windsor/Essex County Sports Hall of Fame from the beginning. He was a member of the steering committee in 1979 that led to its formation. Eventually, he served as Chairman for the Hall from 1989 to ’95.
Techko had a weekly radio program for one year on CBE Radio with Tony Doucette in the 1960s. He wrote many articles about local sports figures and teams for the magazine Windsor This Month.
In 1995, Techko worked with the journalist and author Carl Morgan to published The Olympians Among Us, a book on the accomplishments of Olympic athletes from Essex and Kent counties. Techko himself wrote Twice The Impossible Dream, which describes Assumption College’s 1944 and ’45 victories over the Harlem Globetrotters.
Techko was always an advocate for local athletes. He made a persuasive presentation to the Canadian Basketball Hall of Fame that resulted in the induction of Windsor’s Bill Rogin and Freddie Thomas, and a similar presentation to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame that led to the induction of Amherstburg’s Justin Clarke.
Techko’s interest in and dedication to documenting local sports has given pleasure and recognition to countless men and women in Windsor-Essex. The sporting community here respects, appreciates, and admires his efforts. Had it not been for Techko’s work, we would not have a permanent record for future generation of several magnificent athletes, teams, and events. Together, they make up the magnificent sports heritage of Windsor and Essex County.
Techko retired from teaching in 1986. He passed away on November 22, 2000.