In celebration of Portsmouth’s baseball heritage the annual fundraiser banquet, organized by Portsmouth Murals, Inc., was held Wednesday evening in Portsmouth.
The Portsmouth Murals Baseball Banquet has become a yearly homecoming of past and present baseball greats native to the Portsmouth area.
Gene Bennett, legendary Cincinnati Reds scout and Wheelersburg native, is largely responsible for bringing those baseball minds to Portsmouth. On the second Wednesday of January each year, current and former Major League Baseball players and personnel return home to talk baseball.
“There is a lot of pride in the baseball history of our community,” said Bill Warnock of Portsmouth Murals, Inc., the event’s emcee. “And I think that is what brings people back each year. A lot of the baseball people tell me that this is the finest banquet they go to over the course of the year. And that means a lot because baseball is special in our town.”
The banquet was established by Portsmouth Murals, Inc. to fund maintenance and repairs to the existing murals, as well as help fund any new murals. Several fundraisers are combined through the event, including ticket sales, a raffle and silent auction.
“We have a silent auction every year and there are different things that have been donated to us by the Cincinnati Reds and by Gene Bennett,” Robert Morton, President of Portsmouth Mural, Inc. said. “I donated a copy of a print of Marty Brennamen and Joe Nuxhall with their actual signatures. It is an autographed print done by an artist in the Cincinnati area. This is number 13 of 1,100 prints. So it has some value to it and I hope it gets (some bids). It is part of the fundraiser.”
Tickets for the event were sold for $50 and the organizers were expected 375-400 people in all. Area businesses sponsored the event through ticket purchases as well as donations.
One hundred percent of the money raised through the event goes to the floodwall murals project.
“We spent about $12 thousand a year the last three years on maintenance,” Morton said. “(Ticket sales) are donations to the murals. You get a great meal for it and get to meet a lot of baseball people you wouldn’t otherwise meet.”
The annual festivities and floodwall murals have gained notable mention throughout the baseball community.
“This event has done a lot for our city. If you watch the Reds telecast, they talk about our murals probably six or eight times a year,” Warnock said. “This event just highlights our town and the beautification that the murals bring to our city.”
ALI KEATON can be reached at email@example.com