Philadelphia Inquirer - January 29, 1980

The man of the 70s:  It’s Rose

 

By Jayson Stark, Inquirer Staff Writer

 

The Philadelphia Sports Writers Association has been holding its annual awards dinners for 76 years, and until last night it never had given anybody an athlete-of-the-decade award.

 

But there's a first time for everything, right? So the association unveiled its highly prestigious, totally unprecedented and fervently coveted athlete-of-the-decade award and presented it to the Phillies' Pete Rose.

 

Whereupon Rose looked it over and said, "Thanks. This is a helluva lot better than the one I got today at lunch time."

 

Well, um, you're welcome.

 

Actually, you probably didn't need Pete Rose to tell you that there are at least as many awards banquets in the country as there are restaurants that serve roast beef and green beans.

 

But somehow, the Philadelphia affair is a little special, if only because it's the oldest. If every town in the U.S. A. bigger than Altoona decided to copy the formula, it's not Philadelphia's fault.

 

Montgomery gives thanks

 

Last night, at the Cherry Hill Hyatt House, the Philadelphia Sports Writers went through their act again, honoring Rose and 41 other national and local sports figures.

 

The Eagles' Wilbert Montgomery received the pro-athlete-of-the-year award and proceeded to thank about a thousand people, not the least of whom were his offensive line.

 

He didn't remember to thank the Wright Brothers. But he should have, because if they hadn't invented the airplane, Montgomery never would have made it back from the Pro Bowl in Hawaii in time for the dinner.

 

Another Eagle honored was quarterback Ron Jaworski. He received the not-necessarily-coveted Good Guy Award, given to the area athlete who has been most cooperative with the press.

 

"Can you believe this – an NFL quarterback getting a Good Guy Award from sportswriters?" Jaworski said, feigning shock. "Dan Pastorini, eat your heart out."

 

Quinn nods in

 

Flyers coach Pat Quinn was there, too, even though he had arrived from Winnipeg yesterday at 11 a.m. Asked when he arrived in town if he was planning to catch some sleep, Quinn said, "No, I think I'll hold off and sleep tonight at the dinner."

 

Among the missing was the Eagles' unofficial mascot, Bird Brain, who was denied admittance at the door, even though he had bought a ticket. No explanation was given.

 

Villanova middle-distance runner Don Paige and the Flyers' Bobby Clarke received the other two major awards. Paige was honored as the year's outstanding amateur athlete. Clarke was the surprise winner of the Most Courageous Athlete Award. In 1974, Clarke also won the Outstanding Pro Athlete Award, making him the first person ever to win both.

 

 

Finally, the Camden Courier-Post's Bob Kenney was honored as the writers' "good guy," presented for special contributions to the Sports Writers Association.