Seattle’s sports stars, legends, celebrities gathered for 78th annual Star of the Year event, sponsored by MTR Western, Friday in downtown Seattle at Benaroya Hall with a long list of honors to be dealt and achievements to be saluted.
Online voters have chosen winners in the categories of Pro Sports Star of the Year, Male Sports Star of the Year, Female Sports Star of the Year and Sports Story of the Year. They were to have been announced throughout the program.
Winners in five other categories were selected and announced previously by the Seattle Sports Star committee, comprised of business leaders, sports media members and sports historians:
Keith Jackson Award winner: Bob Rondeau
Rondeau, the voice of Huskies football for 30 years and basketball for 26 years, won the award of excellence in communicating the sports story in the state of Washington. Rondeau graduated from the University of Colorado and landed his first job in Cortez, CO., then moved to jobs in Denver and Phoenix before landing a radio job in Seattle at KOMO radio in 1977. He’s been here since.
His award was presented by his, ahem, longtime sidekick on the football broadcasts, former Huskies placekicker Chuck Nelson.
Sports Executive of the Year: Adrian Hanauer
Early during the most recent MLS season, the Seattle Sounders asked fans to vote on whether to retain owner and general manager Hanauer. A staggering 93.6 percent voted to approve Hanuer, who has helped make the Sounders one of Seattle’s most popular and successful pro sports operations.
“These awards are always team awards,” said Hanauer, “and I have a fantastic group of people that I work with on the sporting side and business side. For me, it’s a reflection on the organization, not necessarily me individually.”
Under Hanauer’s stewardship, the Sounders have had consistent success over their four years of existence, winning three U.S. Open Cups while dominating the league’s attendance figures. The Sounders have broken the league’s single-season attendance record four consecutive times and last season averaged 43,144. The Sounders also have the best TV ratings in the league.
Royal Brougham Legend Award: Edgar Martinez
More than any athlete who suited up for the Seattle Mariners, and probably more than any athlete who suited up for any Seattle sports team, Martinez best defines the word “legend.” Over the course of his 18 seasons with the club, Martinez provided countless thrills and one unforgettable moment.
In the 1995 ALDS against the New York Yankees, Martinez delivered the decisive double in the 11th inning that scored Ken Griffey Jr. from first base and enabled Seattle to win the fifth and final game. The play, ending in a wild dogpile at home plate, ranks as the top sports moment in Seattle’s pro sports history, and saved major league baseball in Seattle.
Martinez never played for any major league team other than the Mariners, for whom he compiled a career batting average of .312, an on-base percentage of .418 and a .515 slugging percentage. Those statistics haven’t gotten Martinez into the Baseball Hall of Fame yet — but they, along with his two batting championships and seven All-Star appearances — might someday.
A true legend on the field, Martinez went about his business quietly and with complete professionalism, qualities that endeared him to every sports fan in Seattle.
Paul Allen Citizenship Award winner: Lenny Wilkens
As head coach of the Seattle SuperSonics, Wilkens gave Seattle its only NBA championship back in 1979. Since 1998, he has been giving back to Seattle in another way, through the Lenny Wilkens Foundation, which funds organizations that deliver health care to children.
“I believe in young people,” said Wilkens, who formed his foundation along with his wife, Marilyn. “I feel that they are tomorrow’s doctors, lawyers, coaches. We who are here and have been here, it’s important that we open the door, that we be positive, that we let them know people care. That’s our future.”
Wilkens, the only member of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame inducted as both a player and a coach, funnels much of the funds from his foundation to the Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic, which is affiliated with Seattle Children’s Hospital.
Seattle Children’s Hospital Inspirational Youth Award winner: Josh Dickerson
Dickerson was honored posthumously with an award given to a student-athlete who overcomes major medical obstacles to compete in the sport they love. Dickerson loved baseball so much that not even cancer could keep him from playing the game for O’Dea High School.
Dickerson was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma in October of 2009, only five months after he and his teammates captured the Class 3A state baseball championship. Eventually, the cancer spread to his jaw, forcing him to undergo chemotherapy.
After being cancer free for 11 months, the disease returned in December of 2011. Rather than submit to a second round of chemotherapy, Dickerson elected to return to baseball. Dickerson played until May — he went 3-for-5 in his final game — and died July 26.
His father, Kiyo Dickerson, will accept the award on his son’s behalf.
“I think he’d be pleased to know that, although it wasn’t his intention to be an inspiration, people looked up to him,” Kiyo said. “He would have been proud for receiving this honor, and I myself am very proud of that boy.”