Class of 2019
Ernie Pitts came to the Canadian Football League in 1957 and immediately became a key player on a Winnipeg Blue Bombers team which was a dynasty in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s under legendary coach Bud Grant (inducted Canadian Football Hall of Fame, 1983).
Pitts was recognized as a Western All-Star six times, at two different positions, and won four Grey Cups with the Blue Bombers – 1958, 1959, 1961 and 1962. Winnipeg were finalists in the 1957 and 1965 Grey Cups.
Hailing from Aliquippa, PA, located in the hotbed of high school football in western Pennsylvania, Pitts went on to star at the University of Denver. At the University of Denver, he was a three-time Honorable All-American and broke the school’s pass reception record.
He was a high draft choice of the National Football League’s San Francisco 49ers, but chose to come to Winnipeg where he played 194 regular season and 24 playoff games over 13 seasons with the Blue Bombers. His last CFL season was with the B.C. Lions in 1970, where he played 10 games for a career total of 204 regular season games.
Pitts played receiver for Winnipeg from 1957 to 1964, before becoming a full-time defensive back from 1965 to 1970. He excelled at both positions, being selected as a West All-Star at receiver in 1957, 1959 and 1960, and then a West All-Star at defensive back in 1965, 1966 and 1968.
Pitts’ best seasons offensively came in 1959 when he had 68 catches for 1,126 yards and 16 touchdowns, and in 1962 when he had 62 catches for 865 yards. On August 29, 1959, Pitts caught five touchdown passes in a game and became the first player in Canadian football to do this. Upon his induction into the Canadian Hall of Fame in 2019, his five touchdown receptions were still a Blue Bombers’ record.
In 1968, Pitts had seven interceptions, second in the Western Division that season, and in1969 he totaled five interceptions. His final career numbers in 13 seasons with Winnipeg were 55 touchdowns (54 receiving), 331 points, and 5,525 receiving yards on 337 receptions, an average of 16.4 yards per catch.
Winnipeg Blue Bombers
CFL Western All-Star Receiver
CFL Western All-Star Defensive Back
Grey Cup Game Participation
Grey Cup Winning Teams