Even with the pro football playoffs at the forefront, baseball will be the topic at tonight's Portsmouth Murals Inc., banquet at the Scioto County Welcome Center at 6 p.m.
Proceeds from the sold-out event will go toward a baseball-themed mural that artist Robert Dafford is painting near Front Street.
He is painting a dugout scene on a utility building across the street from the floodwall murals.
The mural highlights several major league players from the area, including Al Oliver, Larry Hisle, Rocky Nelson, Gene Tenace, Stan Spence, John Stephenson, Del Rice and Dude Blake.
Oliver, Hisle, Tenace, Stephenson and Nelson have accepted invitations to attend the banquet.
Reds executive and Wheelersburg resident Gene Bennett is also expected to attend, along with former Red Don Gullett and umpire Greg Gibson.
Gullett is a South Shore, Ky., resident and Gibson is from Ironton.
Reds' telecaster George Grande will be the keynote speaker at the banquet. Besides broadcasting games with former Reds pitcher Chris Welsh, Grande is the master of ceremonies at the annual Baseball Hall of Fame inductions in Cooperstown, N.Y., each July.
This is the second straight year Reds personnel have made a winter visit to the city. Last year, Bennett and Reds CEO John Allen spoke at the Portsmouth Murals Inc., banquet.
The next phase of the mural will feature more area baseball personalities, including Gullett, Billy Doyle, Wayne Blackburn, Frank Rickey and umpire Terry Craft.
The welcome center is located at 342 Second St. For more information, call (740) 353-7647.
JEFF BARRON can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 236.