January 15th marked the 43rd Red Smith Banquet, held at the Paper Valley Hotel in Appleton, Wisconsin. Fortunately for me, I was able to attend my first, and boy was it worth it. For those who aren’t aware of this event, it’s been host to many a great athlete, and it’s main purpose is to promote high-school athletics around the state. This year, five lucky athletes from each of the five high schools in Appleton (North, West, East, Fox Valley Lutheran and Xavier), received scholarship awards for their excellence both on the field of play and in the classroom. In addition to honoring the recipients, the event presents two major awards in honor of perhaps the greatest sports journalist ever, Red Smith. The Red Smith Award went to the Packers’ Aaron Kampman, the “Nice Guy” Award went to Cardinals’ great Bob Gibson, and the keynote speaker for the night was former SI writer Frank Deford. Just to give you guys some background on the popularity of this annual ceremony, it has featured numerous legends, from Ernie Banks, to Larry Csonka, Bill Raftery, Kirby Puckett, Lou Brock, Mario Andretti, Tommy Lasorda, Peter King, Bob Uecker and many, many more.
Since I couldn’t let this opportunity go to waste, I decided to bring my recorder with me, and once I got there, I just pressed record, sat back, and enjoyed the sights and sounds of the 2008 Red Smith Banquet. The audio links to Kampman’s and Gibson’s speech have been posted below. Enjoy!