BY David Eskenazi 08:30AM 07/02/2013

Wayback Machine: ‘The Club Without A Muzzle’

For 30 years (1950-80), the Mid-Winter Sports Banquet, featuring nationally-known speakers, the “Poverty Players” and “Bummy” awards, were a Seattle sports fixture.

Seattle Post-Intelligencer columnist Royal Brougham made the 1976 banquet program cover. The drawing is by Bob McCausland, a P-I artist who also created “Hairbreadth Husky.” / David Eskenazi Collection

By David Eskenazi and Steve Rudman

In these normally damp climes, any list of the longest-tenured sports traditions would include the Apple Cup (1900-present), Longacres Mile (1935), Man/Star of the Year Banquet (1936), Seafair Trophy Race (1951), Hutch Award (1965) and Opening Day Regatta (1970)/ Windermere Cup (1987), the international rowing frolic on the Montlake Cut.

Not all traditions last, even those that once had merit. The annual Thanksgiving Day high school football game, featuring the best Seattle and state teams, became a popular fixture in 1929, but died off in 1974. Seattle once regularly hosted PGA  (1936, ’45, ’48, 1961-66) and LPGA tour stops (1982-99), but they too went away, mostly for financial reasons.

Ed Donohoe, depicted by Seattle P-I artist Bob McCausland, was the life and soul of the Mid-Winter banquets. / David Eskenazi Collection

In the graveyard of the defunct, rife with the Kingbowl (1977-94), NCAA Final Fours (1984, ’89, ’95), Seattle Bowl (2001-02), and others festivals reposes another relic, the “Mid-Winter Sports Banquet,” not to be confused with Royal Brougham’s “little clambake,” the Man (Star) of the Year awards.

Mid-Winter Sports banquets began in 1950, roughly about the time Ole Bardahl began getting his name in the paper, and ran through 1980, when Dick Weber and “Square” Earl Anthony were still having at it with bowling balls at Leilani Lanes.

Created by the Puget Sound Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association, Mid-Winter Sports banquets were held at the Olympic Hotel, drew “name” speakers across a variety of sports, were used to present the Charles E. Sullivan Award, and featured skits and spoofs by “The Poverty Players.”

For a number of years, the Writers and ‘Casters handed out the no-other-description-needed “Bummy” awards to deserving fools.

Ed Donohoe, an acerbic and hilarious editor/columnist for The Washington Teamster, acted as prime mover of the banquet. He hired the hall, arranged for a speaker, mailed out invitations, rode herd on ticket sales and even approved the menu.

Ed seldom played a leading role in the show, preferring that the Poverty Players receive the applause. But Donohoe’s introductory remarks and curtain speeches riveted the audience. For most banquet goers, Ed was the highlight, more enjoyed and applauded than the imported high-cost speaker.

This is the front cover of the 1958 Mid-Winter banquet program held at the Olympic Hotel. / David Eskenazi Collection

According to crack research by J Michael Kenyon, former columnist/scribe for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, itself a “tradition” that didn’t last, the roster of speakers included major league managers Casey Stengel, Leo Durocher and Bob Lemon, former players Lefty Gomez, Rocky Bridges and Jim Bouton, Notre Dame football coaches Frank Leahy and Terry Brennan, and one of the Four Horsemen, Jim Crowley.

Baseball owner Bill Veeck gave the main address in 1965, sportscaster Howard Cosell followed in 1972 and New Jersey Sen. Bill Bradley in 1980, when the former Knicks great became the final guest speaker at the last Mid-Winter Sports Banquet.

As J Michael explained, he and long-time sportscaster Rod Belcher (see Wayback Machine: Broadcast Legend Rod Belcher) were batting around the events attendant to the 1952 NCAA basketball championship “Final Four” (it was not yet called the Final Four) at Hec Edmundson Pavilion and discovered that Mid-Winter Sports banquets more or less gained impetus from the salute the Writers & ‘Casters rendered visiting basketball coaches that March.

Approximately 150 attended the March 24 gala, headed by the four coaches whose teams were about to vie for the national championship: Phog Allen of Kansas, Harry Combes of Illinois, Frank McGuire of St. John’s and Bob Feerick of Santa Clara.

The Writers & ‘Casters used the occasion to present to Don Sprinkle the third annual Charles E. Sullivan Award – described in news accounts as “a handsome watch” — for years of civic do-gooding with boys’ clubs and youth teams.

An interior page from the 1958 Mid-Winter banquet program listing the evening’s order of entertainment. / David Eskenazi Collection

“He attended the University of Oregon and College of Puget Sound and continued active participation in the grid sport for several years in the Community League and with independent teams,” The Seattle Times elaborated. “In recent years, he coached the Seattle Ramblers, an amateur football team active in many charity games.”

J Michael sleuthed into Sullivan’s background, reporting, “The month after the stock market crashed (1929), Charles E. Sullivan surrendered his job at Rosaia Bros. florists to open his own flower shop at 1902 Fourth Avenue . . . Sullivan retired to his Bainbridge Island estate in 1942 and sold the firm to his employees, chief among them Adolph Cantalini.

“Sullivan and Cantalini had been regular box-seat holders at Seattle Indian/Rainier baseball games from the 1930s on, giving a ten-dollar bill (a lot of money during the Depression) to every Seattle player who either homered or pitched a shutout  . . . Cantalini later estimated that practice had amassed expenditures of some $12,000 over the years.

“When the Puget Sound Sportswriters & Sportcasters came up with an annual award to honor those who dedicated their lives to promoting youth athletics, they named it for Sullivan . . . The surprise presentation, as much as anything, sparked what became the annual Mid-Winter Sports Banquet at the Olympic Hotel.”

The Writers & ‘Casters — its motto was “The Club Without A Muzzle” — had been active for quite some time before they singled out Sprinkle. J Michael traced the organization to at least 1947 and his research notes say:

“Gail Fowler is one of the founders, as the Puget Sound Sports Writers & Sportscasters Association is ‘dreamed up’ in meetings around the old Press Club . . . Jack Hewins of The Associated Press will become 1948 president, succeeded by KIRO Radio’s Pat Hayes in 1949 and Bill Boni of The Seattle Times in 1950.

Another interior page from the 1958 Mid-Winter banquet program. It shows the play to be put on by the Poverty Players, obviously playing on Around The World In 80 Days. / David Eskenazi Collection

“Among those active in the founding years are Mike Donohoe of the Seattle P-I, Ed Scott of KOL Radio, Ted Bell of KRSC Radio, University of Washington sports publicist Bert Rose, Alex Shults of The Times, Harold Torbergson of the P-I, KMO Radio’s Rod Belcher, Lloyd Rodstrom of The Everett Herald, Vincent O’Keefe of The Times . . . Lenny Anderson, Emmett Watson and Phil Taylor are probably regular attendees, too, by the end of the decade.”

{Belcher, a master of baseball re-creations, worked many of the Seattle U. basketball games featuring the O’Brien twins and, later, Elgin Baylor. Shults, Watson and Anderson all took turns serving as Indians/Rainiers beat reporters for The Times; Watson and Anderson subsequently moved to the Post-Intelligencer, Watson becoming one of Seattle’s most popular columnists}

According to J Michael’s diggings, the next key date in the history of Writers & ‘Casters was Aug. 25, 1948, when they hosted University of Michigan’s football coach H.O. (Fritz) Crisler, father of two-platoon football, and Oklahoma A&M basketball coach Hank Iba for a dinner at the American-Italian Athletic Club.

“KIRO Radio broadcasts a 7 p.m. Q & A with Crisler and Iba fielding questions from Mike Donohoe, Bill Boni, Jack Hewins and Ed Scott,” J. Michael’s notes inform. “Films of the 1948 Rose Bowl game are shown . . .

“By this time, the American-Italian Club has become the site of the group’s luncheons; when the state high school coaches’ association imports the likes of Crisler and Iba for their annual clinics, the club seizes an opportunity to stage a special event.

Back cover of the 1958 Mid-Winter program. It lists the members of the sponsoring Puget Sound Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association. / David Eskenazi Collection

“Four months later, Dec. 16, the Writers & ‘Casters entertain basketball stars Hank Luisetti (ex-Stanford) and Jack Nichols (ex-UW) of the Stewart Chevrolet AAU basketball squad at a buffet supper and a portion of the event is broadcast by KIRO Radio, by Pat Hayes, along with Times sportswriters Vincent O’Keefe and Bill Boni . . . The next night, the Stewart five is upended, 57-56, by the University of Washington, before squaring the series the following night, 48-43.”

{David Eskenazi provided this insight into O’Keefe for O’Keefe’s 2006 obituary, published by The Times: “Vince saw decades of Seattle sports history. He always had that gleam in his eye and a tremendous mind and memory for local sports history and events, many of which he witnessed personally and covered professionally. One of his daughters told me that he watched the Super Bowl last Sunday, and I think that’s fitting for someone who saw and played a part in so much of this city’s sports history.

“Vince saw the entire tenure of the Seattle Rainiers from 1938 to 1964. He saw all the big fights, including Al Hostak-Freddie Steele in 1937 that Jack Dempsey refereed to the 1957 fight between Floyd Patterson and Pete Rademacher.

“He saw the first hydroplane races here. He saw the birth of the Sonics, Pilots, Seahawks and Mariners. During his career, he also cared about events that were out of the limelight, such as high-school sports and amateur soccer. He was a complete sports journalist and aficionado.”}

Less than a year later (March 25, 1949), a Writers & ‘Casters held another banquet at the Olympic Hotel in advance of the NCAA championship basketball game between Kentucky and Oklahoma A&M at Hec Edmundson Pavilion, and a year after that the inaugural Charles E. Sullivan Award went to the University of Washington’s Dorsett “Tubby” Graves, long-time baseball coach and administrator, as part of a Writers & ‘Casters “Meet Your Manager” dinner for incoming Rainiers boss Paul Richards.

This is a ticket to the 1961 Mid-Winter banquet that featured guest speaker and broadcast great Joe Garagiola. Note in the box next to Garagiola’s photo that the affair was for “Men Only.”/ David Eskenazi Collection

Graves’ UW colleague, Hec Edmundson, received the 1951 award, apparently without any banquet fanfare, according to J Michael’s notes dated March 16.

“Clarence S. (Hec) Edmundson receives the Charles E. Sullivan Award (at Hec Edmundson Pavilion) between semifinal games of the state Class A high school basketball tournament . . . The occasion is fitting, for multiple reasons: The 23-year-old field house was named in honor of Edmundson, longtime University of Washington basketball and track coach, in 1948 (see Wayback Machine: Ace Coach Hec Edmundson).

“And Edmundson is considered to be ‘the father’ of the state tournament, which dates from 1923 . . . Edmundson ceased coaching basketball in 1947 but is now involved with his 32nd consecutive year of mentoring Husky thinclads . . . In June, the UW will host the NCAA Track and Field Championships . . . Lloyd Rodstrom, president of the sponsoring Puget Sound Sportswriters & Sportscasters, made the presentation of a commemorative watch to Edmundson.”

Baseball great Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox, a guest at the 1961 banquet, autographed the dinner menu. / David Eskenazi Collection

The 1952 “Final Four,” the second in three years at Hec Ed and with 150 coaches from around the nation attending, provided the Writers & ‘Casters the opportunity, according to J Michael, “to throw the first of its big banquets, with jab-skits & songs aimed at local targets.” From that point on, the banquets unfolded this way:

Feb. 16, 1953

New York Yankee manager Casey Stengel is the principal speaker. Also feted is new University of Washington football coach Johnny Cherberg, who is introduced by a former, longtime Husky grid coach Jimmy Phelan . . .  Ted Bell is master of ceremonies and the “Poverty Players” – Jack Gordon, Bill Sears, Rod Belcher, Larry Dion and Bell among them — make their debut.

“It’s doubtful whether the Puget Sound Sportswriters & Sportscasters Association ever will top the program it presented last night in the Spanish Ballroom. With its secretary, Ed Donohoe, doing the terrific behind-the-scenes work that put it over, (the banquet was) the likes of which this man’s town never before has seen” — Lenny Anderson, Seattle Times, Feb. 17, 1953 . . . Tom Segwick, youth swimming coach, is the Sullivan winner.

Program cover from the 1965 event in which the Poverty Players “saluted” the year just ended. / David Eskenazi Collection

{Jack Gordon carried the nickname “Mr. Seattle” for 50 years. He helped create Seafair – he was the original Seafair Pirate — and the Plaza of States for the World’s Fair, worked as a publicist for Seattle U. and Greater Seattle Inc., and served as Master of Ceremonies for numerous civic functions. He worked on many projects with Bill Sears (see Wayback  Machine: Bill Sears And A Life Well Lived)

Feb. 8, 1954

Notre Dame football coach Frank Leahy is the principal speaker at the banquet, which introduces new Rainier manager Gerry Priddy to Seattle . . . Chuck Durgan is the Sullivan winner.

Feb. 7, 1955

Billed as “Freddie Hutchinson’s Homecoming . . . Earl F. (Click) Clark, for 30 years an area athletic trainer, receives the Sullivan . . . Boxing legend Jack (Deacon) Hurley occupies the speaker’s stand until the plane-delayed arrival of the featured orator, Notre Dame football coach Terry Brennan.

{At the urging of boyhood pal Dewey Soriano, Hutchinson returned to manage the Rainiers for the 1955 season, with successful results (see Wayback Machines: Hutch And The 1955 Rainiers, Dewey Soriano Story, Part 1 and Dewey Soriano Story, Part 2}.

Feb. 13, 1956

The main speaker is Vernon (Lefty) Gomez … New Rainier manager Luke Sewell is introduced and speaks . . . Rod Belcher, now at KOL Radio, is president of the sponsoring group and serves as emcee . . . The program opens with a series of skits lampooning local athletic figures and situations, with a number centering around the University of Washington football ruckus (UW ensnared in a slush-fund scandal) . . . Clarence Pautzke, chief biologist of the state game department, is accorded the Sullivan.

Noted tennis executive Vic Denny received the 1964 Charles E. Sullivan Award and was feted at the 1965 banquet. / David Eskenazi Collection

Jan. 28, 1957

Former Chicago Cardinals coach Jimmy Conzelman is guest speaker, along with new Seattle Rainier manager Lefty O’Doul . . . Al Leader receives the Sullivan . . . “In what was widely regarded as the most successful of the Puget Sound Sportswriters & Sportcasters Association’s eight midwinter banquets, Conzelman distinguished himself as the best after-dinner speaker to perform here in many years” – Lenny Anderson, Seattle Times, Jan. 29, 1957.

Feb. 3, 1958

Former major league manager Leo Durocher is the guest speaker at the banquet, which also honors new Rainiers manager Connie Ryan . . . Curly Grieve, sports editor of the San Francisco Examiner, describes the campaign which lured major league baseball to his city . . . Seattle University trainer Claude Norris wins the Sullivan.

Feb. 2, 1959

Mike Pecarovich, former Gonzaga football coach who grew up in Seattle, is the lead speaker . . . Longtime (36 years) local semipro baseball sponsor Nick Peterson is the Sullivan winner . . . This is the year secretary-treasurer Ed Donohoe will forsake alcoholic beverages for the remainder of his life . . . Ed’s colleagues will tell and re-tell the epic stories of his tipsy misadventures and, one year in a Poverty Player’s skit, Rod Belcher sings “You Shoulda Known Ed Donohoe When He Was Drinking Booze” (to the tune of the “Battle Hymn of the Republic”) . . . Donohoe labels the send-up tune’s lyrics as the best ever written for the show (“In those days he saw more bars than you could find in jails or zoos / this lush went staggering on!”), a compliment never forgotten by Belcher.

Feb. 15, 1960

“Sleepy” Jim Crowley, one of Notre Dame’s legendary “Four Horsemen,” battles winter weather from Scranton PA., to give the main speech . . . Kent Powell is president of the sponsoring Puget Sound Sportswriters & Sportscasters . . . The Rev. Richard Stohr, director of the Catholic Youth Organization athletic program, wins the Sullivan.

The “Big Fella,” front right, on the 1966 program cover is University of Washington football coach Jim Owens. / David Eskenazi Collection

Feb. 6, 1961

Joe Garagiola is the main speaker at the 11th annual banquet . . . Other speakers include Ted Williams, Jack Sharkey and Johnny Pesky, manager of the Rainiers . . . The Poverty Players present a satire on current local events and people  . . . Tacoma’s longtime baseball benefactor Ben Cheney is presented the Sullivan by Jack Hewins.

{See Wayback Machines: Johnny ‘Needlenose’ Pesky and Ben Cheney, A Tacoma Icon}

Feb. 5, 1962

 Jimmy Conzelman, back for an encore, is principal speaker – but doesn’t get the same measure of kudos as he did first time around . . . Dr. William B. Hutchinson, Fred’s elder brother, is recipient of the Sullivan.

Feb. 4, 1963

Morris Frank, columnist for the Houston Chronicle, is the main speaker . . . Banquet tickets for what is billed as the 14th annual affair (a different version of the math) are $12.50 . . . Junior hockey director Ernie Adby is given the Sullivan . . . Among boosters of the event are restaurateurs Jimmy and Vito Santoro, who annually take on the task of selling a dozen, 10-man tables for the event . . . And Ed Donohoe is presented a special award for his “unselfish devotion” to the organization and this banquet.

Feb. 3, 1964

Tommy Richardson, president of baseball’s AAA International League, is guest speaker of what is billed as the 14th (oops, there’s that number again) Midwinter Sports Banquet . . . Poverty Players (Ted Bell, Phil Taylor, Rod Belcher, Bill Schonely, Bill Sears, Don Wood and Dave Kosher) continue to lampoon sports and political figures, and Edmund Joseph DeValera Donohoe continues with his rollicking wit . . . Vic Denny, national tennis executive, gets the Sullivan, presented by Johnny O’Brien.

The Poverty Players put on “A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Stadium” in 1967. Seattle P-I columnist Royal Brougham (top drawing) served as Master of Ceremonies. / David Eskenazi Collection

{Donohoe wrote a column in The Teamster titled “Tilting The Windmill.” He used his platform to skewer all who showed up on his radar, including fellow journalists. Donohoe once penned a piece on Seattle Times columnist Walt Evans titled “Walter The Space Waster.” The University of Washington athletic department was so cowed by Donohoe that it issued him press box credentials for football games, even though he never wrote about the games).

Feb. 8, 1965 

Bill Veeck, colorful baseball executive, is the speaker . . . “That Was the Year That Was” is the theme of the Poverty Players’ skits . . . “As usual, Ed Donohoe was the hit of the evening. Doctors, lawyers, state Supreme Court judges, politicians, labor leaders, business tycoons, educators, clergymen – even Gov. Dan Evans and Mayor Dorm Braman – laugh uproariously as Ed, with tongue in cheek, drove his oral harpoon into the hides of some of the most prominent guests at the party – including the mayor and governor” — John J. Reddin, Seattle Times, Feb. 12, 1965  . . . Friends call retired swimming coach Ray Daughters in Santa Monica CA., and tell him he’s the 16th recipient of the Sullivan.

{Daughters tutored Olympic medalists Helene Madison (1932) and Jack Medica (1936). His swimmers set 31 world and 301 American records. See Wayback Machine: Swim Guru Ray Daughters}

Feb. 14, 1966

Principal speaker is Henry Jordan of the Green Bay Packers . . . Mike Glover (later J Michael Kenyon), neophyte sports writer for The Post-Intelligencer, is given a chair in the entryway leading from the kitchen from which to view, for the first time, the main ballroom proceedings . . . Seattle Parks Dept. athletic director Gene Boyd wins the Sullivan.

Gene Boyd, athletic director at the Seattle Parks Department, won the 1965 Sullivan award. / David Eskenazi Collection

Feb. 13, 1967

National League baseball umpire Tom Gorman is the speaker . . . Percy Egtvet, longtime assistant trainer and track coach at the University of Washington, is the Charles E. Sullivan Award winner . . . “A Funny Thing Happened On the Way To the Stadium” is the Poverty Players’ presentation.

Feb. 12, 1968

Blackie Sherrod, sports editor of the Dallas Times-Herald, is the headline speaker . . . Ron Santo is honored . . . Charles Albert (Al) Jones, charity golf tournament organizer, is the 19th recipient of the Sullivan . . . Bill Sears and the other Poverty Player writers – Rod Belcher, Phil Taylor and Lenny Anderson – debut the “Bummy Awards” . . . The inaugural “shaft-shaped” awards go to Jim Owens, Don Richman, Dewey Soriano, James R. Ellis, Jack Hurley and Seattle Magazine (“Pompous Writing Award”).

Feb. 3, 1969

Morris Siegel, sports columnist of the Washington D.C. Evening Star, is the featured speaker . . . Tacoma swim coach Don Hannula wins the Sullivan . . . Bummy Awards go to Charles O. Carroll, Joe Gottstein, Mayor J.D. Braman, Joseph E. Gandy, Sheriff Jack Porter and Pilots’ manager Joe Schultz . . . Tickets for the soiree are $15 apiece.

The Writers & ‘Casters saluted Seattle native Ron Santo of the Chicago Cubs at the 1968 banquet. / David Eskenazi Collection

Feb. 2, 1970

Cooler heads prevail and, for the second year running, this is the “20th annual” Mid-Winter Sports Banquet . . . The ticket price is hiked to $18 … Major league baseball veteran Rocky Bridges is the chief speechmaker … Jack Goldingay, a 56-year-old tooling engineer at Boeing, accepts the Sullivan. He is saluted as father of the area’s junior soccer program . . . With the Seattle Pilots headed out of town after just one year of residency, a Bummy Award goes to owner Dewey Soriano.

Feb. 8, 1971

Oklahoma City basketball coach Abe Lemons and former Seattle Pilot Jim Bouton are featured speakers . . . Bouton, Jim Sweeney, Ralph Williams, Jack Hurley and Rick Silverman are targeted with Bummy Awards . . . The Sullivan Award goes to Eddie Vervynck, longtime purveyor of sporting goods.

{Jack Hurley, a boxing trainer and promoter, ranks among the most gifted and eccentric characters in the history of Seattle sports. See Wayback Machine: Jack Hurley And Kid Matthews).

Feb. 7, 1972

For $500 and expenses, Howard Cosell, ABC-TV sports commentator, is the main speaker . . .  “I traveled 3,000 miles to be confronted by this mediocrity,” he indulges  . . . Seattle Times society columnist June Anderson Almquist writes that she is the only woman in the Grand Ballroom – first distaffer invited to attend in 22 years . . . Ed Donohoe tells her there were a few women at the first banquet, in 1950 – wives of some dignitaries — but some “blue words” from one the speakers so embarrassed the Writers & ‘Casters “we banned all women from the banquet thereafter.” . . . Tickets are $20 . . . The expanded Poverty Players include Jack Morton, Jim Wert, Mark Kaufman, Chick Kaplan, Dave Kosher, Joe Sherk, Bill Knight and Phil Taylor . . . The writers have expanded, too, to include Denny MacGougan, Don Duncan and Don Tewkesbury.

This is the Bummy Award presented to Dewey Soriano just in advance of the Seattle Pilots leaving town in the spring of 1970. Dewey and brother Max were part owners of the team. / David Eskenazi Collection

Feb. 5, 1973

Alonzo Smith (Jake) Gaither, athletic director at Florida A&M University, is featured speaker . . . “Danny Evans, Super Star” is the title of the Poverty Players’ show . . . J.P. Patches hands the “Super Bad Taste (Bummy) Award” to Morrie Alhadeff for unleashing the “Don’t Gas Spot” campaign which killed dog racing as a threat to his Longacres Race Track . . . City Councilwoman Phyllis Lamphere exclaims, “It’s wonderful being the only broad in the house!” . . . Tickets, which continue to include cocktails, dinner and entertainment, are priced at $20.

Feb. 4, 1974

Bob Uecker, baseball funny man from Milwaukee, is the featured speaker . . . The Poverty Players slate “Gall In The Family” as their Bummy Award theme.

Feb. 3, 1975

The athletic director at Fordham University, Pete Carlesimo, is the main speaker for the silver anniversary edition . . . For the Poverty Players, it is “Trouble In Rainy City”  . . . Youth baseball sponsors Milo and Glenn Stoen are presented the Charles E. Sullivan Award by Dave Kosher.

Feb. 2, 1976

Ex-Husky lineman Ray Mansfield, now bound for the Super Bowl with his longtime Pittsburgh Steeler teammates, is the main speaker.

Feb. 7, 1977

Gov. Dixy Lee Ray gets the treatment from the Poverty Players (“Yes, It’s True What They Say About Dixy”) and UW basketball coach Marv Harshman is roasted by former Hawaii coach Dr. Al Saake, Slicks Watts, Les Habegger and Dr. Jack Lein . . . Jack Morton is master of ceremonies . . . By this time, the ‘Writers & ‘Casters’ roster includes three women – Carol Shinnick, Janine Gressel and Chris Swanson.

The Writers & ‘Casters paid broadcaster Howard Cosell $500 plus expenses to speak at the 1972 banquet. / David Eskenazi Collection

March 22, 1977

Arnie Aizstrauts receives the Sullivan for “one who has contributed to sports in this area over the years.” … Aizstrauts, a native of Latvia, came to Seattle in 1953 and began a long association with the city Parks and Recreation Department; he also was the first soccer coach at Seattle Pacific and president of the Northwest AAU.

Feb. 6, 1978

Ed Donohoe’s description of featured speaker Hal Hayes, sports editor from Tuscaloosa AL: “An overweight Will Rogers.” . . . Keith Jackson of ABC-TV Sports is an honored guest . . . The assemblage of 900 men and seven women (by Times’ columnist Rick Anderson’s count) consumes 132 fifths of liquor, plus assorted beers and wine bottles . . . They laugh uproariously when Hayes quips, “The reason ol’ Billy Carter always has that stupid look on his face is … ’cause he’s stupid.”

Feb. 5, 1979

American League umpire Ron Luciano is the principal speaker . . . Bob Lemon, New York Yankee manager, is another featured guest . . . Times’ columnist Rick Anderson next day totes up the attendees as “800 men and eight women listening to the debauchery that has gone on for 29 years … putting away a ton of booze and long hours of jokes that either fall on the floor or have to be delivered in a plain brown wrapper.”  . . . Ageless soccer scribe Pep Peery is among those playing a “Sugar Plum Fairy” in a Poverty Players skit … The Mariners’ Kip Horsburgh scores the Bummy Award.

{Front-office executive Horsburgh announced the club would not make the Kingdome available for the 1984 Final Four, slated for Seattle, because the Mariners might need it for final preseason practices}

Gov. Dixy Lee Ray occupied the cover of the 1977 banquet program. She didn’t take kindly to Royal Brougham’s frequent description of her during her election campaign: “That broad running for Governess.” / David Eskenazi Collection

Feb. 4, 1980

Sen. Bill Bradley (D-NJ.) is the featured speaker at the 30th, and last, Mid-Winter Sports Banquet presented by the tottering Puget Sound Sportswriters & Sportscasters Association . . . Ticket price $35 … The Poverty Players offer up another Bummy Award . . . As Times’ sports editor Georg Meyers put it, “Grand Ballroom celebrators are shunted through the adjoining Spanish Ballroom for preprandial lubrication at bars set up in all corners” — and for the final time.


In September, 1980, the Olympic Hotel, site of the banquets, closed for two years’ worth of remodeling. Although virtually all of the banquets attracted between 800-1,000 persons, the sponsoring Writers & ‘Casters, “after reconsidering their annual crime,” according to J Michael, opted to cease conducting any more banquets.

In a December, 1981 “Tilting The Windmill” column, Donohoe penned an ode to the Puget Sound Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association —  “Last Rites for a Good Club.”


Many of the historic images published on Sportspress Northwest are provided by resident Northwest sports history aficionado David Eskenazi. Check out David’’s “ Wayback Machine Archive.” David can be reached at (206) 441-1900, or at


Comments are closed.