"Fifty-mission Cap" as written by Robert Baker, Gordon Downie, Johnny Fay, Paul Langlois and Gordon Sinclair....
Bill Barilko disappeared that summer
He was on a fishing trip
The last goal he ever scored
Won the Leafs the cup
They didn't win another till nineteen sixty two
The year he was discovered
I stole this from a hockey card
I keeped tucked up under

My fifty mission cup
I worked it in
I worked it in to look like that
It's my fifty mission cup
It's his fifty mission cup
And I worked it in
I worked it in
And I worked it in to look like that
And I worked it in to look like that

Bill Barilko disappeared that summer (in nineteen fifty one)
He was on a fishing trip (in a plane)
The last goal he ever scored (in over time)
Won the Leafs the cup
They didn't win another till nineteen sixty two
The year he was discovered

In my fifty mission cup
I worked it in
I worked it in to look like that
It's my fifty mission cup
It's his fifty mission cup
And I worked it in
I worked it in
And I worked it in to look like that
And I worked it in to look like that

It's my fifty mission cup
It's my fifty mission cup
It's my fifty mission cup
It's my fifty mission cup


Lyrics submitted by black_cow_of_death

"Fifty-Mission Cap" as written by Gordon Sinclair Gordon Downie

Lyrics © Peermusic Publishing

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Fifty-Mission Cap song meanings
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16 Comments

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  • +2
    General CommentAnother reason the phrase 'fifty mission' fits is that in the old days of the 6 team NHL you played ten games against each opposing team, therefore you had fifty 'missions' per season before the playoffs. I'm sure Gord's savvy enough to realise that both meanings worked.
    The Raton February 26, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentA plane crash killed Bill Barilko back in 1944 or something like that. That was the last time the Maple Leafs won the Stanley Cup. The searchers could never find Barilko's body until 1962, which was the next time the Leafs won the cup. Freaky story I think.
    OpinionHeadon October 23, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General CommentWilliam "Bashin' Bill" Barilko (born March 25, 1927 in Timmins, Ontario – died August 26, 1951 near Cochrane, Ontario) Not very russian sounding, but a cool theory.
    Gromit Dogon May 25, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentWhen I saw them in concert at First Avenue in Minneapolis, maybe around 1993, Gordon Downie introduced it saying "This is a song about wasted potential." The obvious meaning of that phrase is Bill Barilko's death. But I think there's another kind of wasted potential in the idea of a "fifty-mission cap", a veteran, probably in a crappy job, dreaming about his glory days in the war. Downie does a lot of that sort of thing, making great leaps from one story line to another, with a mysterious but undeniable continuity of theme between the two stories. This sort of thing happens in Pigeon Camera and Locked in The Trunk of a Car, too.

    That's my take on it, anyway.
    jriemermon June 22, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General Comment Bill Barilko had gone on a fishing trip to James Bay, in a float plane with a friend from Timmins, Ontario (his hometown) a dentist named Henry Hudson (who was the pilot).
    Another Henry Hudson, the explorer (Hudson Bay is named after him) also died in James Bay.
    I just had this conversation about this song with writter Joseph Boyden who has taken Gord Downie fishing, up in James Bay, a few times.

    There is an article on Barilko in the Beaver magazine August/Sept, 2001 issue.

    Some of the lyrics are directly off a "PRO SET" hockey card.

    The 50 mission cap is a separate thread woven into the Barilko story that I had assumed was a cap picked after so many tour dates...
    edge24on July 28, 2011   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWho else could write a song about this event and make it work
    Good song
    hellfirecanon January 01, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song is great and i cant believe how much research this song must have took to make everything work out like that
    TragicallyHip002300on January 13, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think Gord has an amazing ability to absorb information and re-organise it into a song......I don't think he puts too much research to it. I think he is just plain clever.

    Bill Barilko actually went missing in 1951, 4 months after he scored the winning goal that gave the Leafs the 1951 Stanley Cup. He was on his way home from a fishing trip when the plane he was on disappeared. His fellow players refused to believe he was gone and actually kept his equipment in the same locker in the dressing room at the beginning of the next season's training camp. In 1962 the plane was finally found along with him and his friend (the pilot). That year was the next time the leafs won the cup.
    the_king_of_almoston February 22, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song's meaning actually goes beyond just the legend of Bill Barilko. The fifty-mission cap that Gord D. refers to is the hat worn by fighter pilots in the World Wars (the ones with the flaps over the ears). After a pilot had completed fifty bombing or dog-fight missions they had the option to return home. Therefore, their hat became a "fifty-mission cap" which they would wear proudly. Gord D. is probably singing about a pilot cap which he attempted to work in to look like an authentic fifty-mission cap, as well as keeping his favourite hockey card tucked underneath. Classic Gord Downie nostalgia piece, conjuring up memories of his Kingston childhood.
    IvoKenton August 30, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentBill was russian, and when he went missing many people thought we was a russian spy all along and now returned to russia to report is info. Not till he was found that people realized it wasn't the case. IVo is comlpetely right about the cap :)
    Daryl24on November 07, 2005   Link

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