He was just 30 years of age, in apparent good health, and involved in an exciting lacrosse match.– suddenly, he collapsed.
Minutes later, with his Toronto Marlboro teammates watching in stunned disbelief, Lance Isaacs was dead.
Born on the Six Nations Reserve in Ontario, Lance displayed unusual skill and sportsmanship as he and brother Bill rose to stardom with teams in both Canada and the United States.
While still youngsters, the brothers joined Brantford’s Haldimand Rifles of the Ontario Amateur Lacrosse Association, eventually capturing the 1932 Intermediate championship.
During the winter months, the Isaacs and other Six Nations’ athletes toiled with the Rochester Iroquois club in the New York State League. Then, in 1935, both lined up with the Burlington Combines for two seasons before joining the Toronto Marlboros.
On July 19, 1937, the black pall of mortality fell over Maple Leaf Gardens.
Lance showed no signs of ill-health during his many shifts with linemates Bill Brunskill, Smiley Young and brother Bill. But, as the players made their way into the dressing room at halftime, Lance suddenly sat down on the end of the rubbing table, grabbed his chest, and uttered “Hey.”
With that, he fell over backwards in what his shocked teammates thought was a faint. Minutes later, while cradled in his brother’s arms, Lance passed away from what was determined to be heart failure.
Garden officials immediately called off the game and gave the 600 spectators passout checks for a future game. The opposing team, Brampton Excelsiors, paid tribute to the memory of Lance Isaacs by allowing the game to stand as a regular contest, the score being 7-5 for Marlboros at the halfway mark.
It was a magnificent sporting gesture on the part of Excelsiors as Lance Isaacs had scored the seventh and final Marlboro goal just 54 seconds prior to the completion of the second period.