The event is held each year to raise money for maintenance and up keep of the murals on Front street. There are have two baseball related murals, one of Branch Rickey, who signed Jackie Robinson and another depicting various players and umpires from Greenup County and Scioto County.
Headlining this year's banquet was Hall of Fame broadcaster Marty Brennaman. Brennaman has been with the Reds since 1974 and shared stories with the crowd about his late partner, Joe Nuxhall. The broadcasting duo held the honor of being the longest running radio tandem in baseball history.
The long-time voice of the Reds viewed the murals for the first time recently.
"You hear about murals," he said. "It doesn't prepare you for what you folks are so proud of, those of you that live in the area. It's really impressive. I was amazed. The tour was wonderful... I am amazed. That a town this size can have an event of this size is truly impressive."
Brennaman wasn't the only hall of famer in attendance. Baseball Writers Association Hall of Famer Hal McCoy of the Dayton Daily News was also present.
Other dignitaries included Reds T.V. broadcaster for Fox Sports Net Chris Welsh, Kansas City Royals pitcher Josh Newman, former Cincinnati Bengals place kicker Doug Pelfrey and a host of other former and current major and minor league players, umpires and scouts.
In his welcome to the crowd, Bob Morton, president of Portsmouth Murals Inc., talked about the importance of the banquet.
"The banquet benefits the murals by paying for our maintenance costs," he said. "There's a lot of maintenance involved because there is 2,000 feet of murals and we're adding some every year."
Former major league umpire Terry Craft, a native of South Shore, Ky., talked more about what the murals mean to the community.
"Last year when I was here Bob Morton ... gave me a history of (the murals) and how they came to pass and also the story behind the murals," Craft said. "I didn't realize there was that much history in this community."
Craft, Al Oliver, Don Gullett and Gene Bennett, the honorees depicted on the baseball mural, shared some of their most memorable stories for the crowd.
Craft talked about standing in one of baseball oldest cathedrals, Fenway Park.
Al Oliver, a former Pittsburgh Pirate and 1982 National League batting champion shared his moment of seeing one grandson throw and the another catch the ceremonial first pitch at PNC Park in Pittsburgh last season.
Former Cincinnati Reds pitcher and later Reds pitching coach Don Gullett told the crowd about his only career home run in a playoff game against the Pirates in 1975, drawing a groan from Oliver and a laugh from the crowd.
Last of the mural honorees to speak was Gene Bennett of Wheelersburg. Bennett, a special senior assistant to the Reds general manager, talked about being inducted into the Baseball Scouts Hall of Fame and earning an award from the Reds Hall of Fame. Bennett is slated to be honored with the first-ever "Legend of Scouting" award at an event in Los Angeles this weekend.
In an interview, Morton explained more about mural maintenance.
"If you drive down and look at the murals you'll see several of them that have cracks in them," he said. "The big thing with the maintenance is repairing those cracks."
Morton went on to credit Bennett for bringing out the stars.
"Several of these major league people have been here before," he said. "They're friends of Gene Bennett and that gets them out.
"I think (the banquet) really does (put Portsmouth on the baseball map)," Morton added. "Gene gets all his Reds friends and MLB fans from all over."
The event also included a music video entitled "Talking Portsmouth Baseball," a silent auction and a catered dinner.
JOHN STEGEMAN can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org