The Crowne Plaza in Cherry Hill, NJ hosted the 107th Philadelphia Sports Writers Association dinner last night. Four members of the Philadelphia Phillies were individually honored: pitcher Roy Halladay, outfielder Shane Victorino, manager Charlie Manuel and general manager Ruben Amaro Jr.
Halladay was the man people paid $95 to see. He won the Philadelphia Athlete of the Year award for his memorable 2010 season. He also re-accepted the Cy Young award he received in New York last week.
Halladay was greeted with a standing ovation after the announcement for his Cy Young award and then received a smaller standing ovation when he won the Athlete of the Year award. Not often does someone receive two standing ovations in one night, let alone back-to-back.
Victorino was honored as the Humanitarian of the year, notably for his generous donations to the Boys and Girls Club in Philadelphia. But Victorino is just one of many athletes on the Phillies that do many great things in the community.
Manuel and Amaro were honored as well at the dinner. While Amaro didn’t speak, Manuel cracked jokes and had the whole place laughing.
“Ya know, they don’t have any Christmas plays in West Virginia… They can’t find three wise men or a virgin,” cracked Manuel during his speech.
But once the dinner ended, the four Phils members hopped on a plane headed to Clearwater. Halladay was a little upset that he was stuck up in Philadelphia for the whole week according to someone I know who was close to the whole PSWA dinner. But as we saw last week with Doc running laps at Citizens Bank Park, Halladay really was antsy to get back down to Clearwater and get back to work and prepare for the 2011 season.
Other athletes that were honored included the Living Legend award that went to former Eagles line backer Bill Bergey, the Good Guy award that went to Sixers forward Elton Brand and the Team of the Year that went to the Philadelphia Flyers and accepted by Ian Laperriere.
I was there along with 24 other current and former Rowan University students helping out our professor and Master of Ceremonies, Larry Litwin. Litwin did a fantastic job not only MC-ing the event but being a major part in planning and organizing it.
As a Rowan student, I was also proud of Profs football player Matt Hoffman who was honored for his donating of bone marrow to a Texas man, ultimately saving his life. He had a 1-in-80,000 chance of being a match for this man, something he compared to “winning the lottery.” Manuel, the Phils skipper, gave Hoffman a congratulations at the beginning of his speech. He was also thanked by the most Courageous Athlete award recipient, Mark Herzlich for what he did.
Herzlich, a linebacker at Boston College was diagnosed with cancer in his leg two years ago. He had a 10% chance of living and survived. The cancer cost Herzlich millions of dollars as he was a projected Top-10 draft choice for the NFL. He has revived his career, another miracle he overcame, and will look to be drafted into the NFL this coming draft.
During his speech, Herzlich turned to Hoffman and thanked him for doing what he did, saying that Hoffman will never understand how it feels to get a second chance. Herzlich knows what it’s like and knows how that Texas man is feeling. During Hoffman’s speech, he encouraged everyone to be a part of that program because it could help save someone’s life.
Kyle Scott of Crossing Broad was also there and here are a few links he shared on Twitter last night. Here are some audio and videos of Manuel’s speech and of local comedian Joe Conklin doing impersonations of different Philadelphia figures.
Pictures will be coming soon once my friend and fellow Rowan student and RTF major, E.J. Campbell, uploads them to Facebook.