The governing body managing the local floodwall murals, Portsmouth Murals, Inc. (PMI), has announced the creation of a new event that will take place later this month to honor the history of athletics in the region.
The Sports Wall Honoree Recognition Dinner will welcome the community to recognize local sports legends who have made the murals wall of fame. In addition to that, the event will honor the 2022 College Football Hall of Fame inductee, local football legend, Chuck Ealey. Ealey will also be present at the event as a special guest for community members to greet. “This banquet is, basically, a dedication ceremony to the new sports wall,” Bill Warnock, Chairman of the Baseball Committee and Chairman of the current banquet, said. “Due to Covid, and things going on the past few years, we really haven’t had to opportunity to do so and now felt like a good time.”
Warnock believes this is a well-earned event and is proud to be part of bringing it to life, in order to honor so many different athletes. “We would like to recognize the people who earned the right to be on that wall and bring a little notoriety to those efforts. I think there are about 20 people on that mural and I hope we will get ten or eleven of them to show up for the banquet,” Warnock said. “It will be a great opportunity to recognize their efforts and a good way to be able to honor Chuck Ealey and his election to the National College Football Hall of Fame.”
Warnock is particularly proud to have Ealey in attendance. “I think it is outstanding,” Warnock said. “I mean, I think it is very good for him and our community. We are very proud of him.”
Ealey, who now resides in Toronto, Ontario, will be the keynote speaker, recollecting his undefeated playing days at Portsmouth’s Notre Dame Titans High School, as well as his honored days in college for the Toledo Rockets.
According to PMI, Ealey went on to for a successful seven-year Canadian Football League (CFL), career, playing for several teams.
Ealey’s 35 wins in a three-year span at Toledo, from 1969 to 1971, still stands as he was voted MAC Hall of Fame in 1988 and is one of only four retired jerseys for the Toledo Rockets. Other locals being recognized at the event include Jeremy Bates, Tom Blackburn, Barbara Stevens Cleveland, Gordon Collett, Mark Frazie, Brian Grahm, Curt Gentry, Fifi Mathews-Tingley, Elbie Nickel, Ray Pelfrey, Dave Pyles, Brett Roberts, Mike Schuler, Robin Hagen Smith, Junior Spencer, Adam Stevens, Gerald Cadogan and the Wheelersburg Girls Little League Champions.
Local Gerald Cadogan, who is featured in the floodwall mural, explained the feeling, “To be included on the sports mural has been a dream that has now become reality, and I am grateful and humble. There are other sports heroes on this mural that I admired and looked up to, to be included in the mirror and this event is a blessing. To be in the same room with Al Oliver and Chuck Ealy, who are legends, is an awesome experience.”
The Baseball Banquet will make a return to Portsmouth, after a two-year break, January of 2023. Warnock is glad to see these events returning.
“I think the baseball banquet is particularly rewarding, because we get to see the baseball player stars we’ve had in our community return home,” Warnock said. “While we don’t see them all every year, we still get to see people like Gene Tenace, Larry Hisle, Al Oliver, Don Gullett, and John Stephenson. It is just good to see those guys come back home and spend a few minutes with their home folks.”
All proceeds from the dinner will go towards PMI’s future updates and maintenance of the famed “2000 feet of art,” which is one of the largest outdoor art exhibits of any one artist in the world. The dinner will be September 28 and admission is $50. Tickets are now on sale at the Scioto County Welcome Center, Portsmouth Area Chamber of Commerce office, 342 Second Street. For more information, call 740.353.7647. The event will be held at Shawnee State University.
Reach Joseph Pratt at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1928, by email at [email protected], © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved