The Bluegrass Sports Commission (BSC) is proud to announce John Rooney, Jerry Tipton, Stewart Perry, the Kentucky High School Athletic Association (KHSAA) and the Lexington Center Corporation (LCC) as the winners of the seventh annual Bluegrass Sports Awards presented by Alltech. The event will return to the Lexington Convention Center’s Bluegrass Ballroom on Feb. 7, 2018.
“The Bluegrass Sports Awards has become one of the great events in Lexington,” said BSC President & CEO Brian Miller. “The night celebrates the absolute best of sports business, media and accomplishment. We’re fortunate in this community to have so many outstanding leaders and contributors. This year we’re honoring some of the biggest difference makers in athletics across this state. Organizations and people who have made a lasting impact across the bluegrass.”
John Rooney will receive the Tom Hammond Sports Media Award which is a national award presented to a broadcaster who has achieved outstanding accomplishments in the field. Rooney just completed his 12th season as the play-by-play announcer for the St. Louis Cardinals. The Richmond, Mo. Native came to St. Louis from the Chicago White Sox where he spent 18 years (1988-2005) - one in TV and 17 seasons following in the radio booth. The Cardinals World Championship crown in 2006 gave John the privilege of working with the World Champion team in back-to-back seasons, following the White Sox win in 2005.
Rooney called his first major league game in 1983 with Mike Shannon and Hall of Fame broadcaster Jack Buck during a three-game series between the Cardinals and host Cincinnati Reds. He began his baseball broadcasting career at the class AAA level, spending the 1981-82 seasons with the Oklahoma 89ers and the 1983-84 campaigns with the Louisville Redbirds. Rooney juggled two stints in the 1980s as a sports reporter for KMOX around his baseball broadcasting and serving as the voice of Missouri Tigers football and basketball on radio and TV for 20 seasons. His major league baseball radio assignments have included the Division Series (1995-97, 2002-03), League Championship Series (1987-97), All-Star Games (1990-1998), World Series (1987-97), and the FOX Saturday afternoon "Game of the Week" (1996-98). Over the years, Rooney has been an announcer on various college basketball telecasts, including the Big 10, Conference USA, Big East and for the past five seasons has been the Voice of the Missouri Valley Conference telecasts. He has broadcast College Football Bowl Games including the Cotton, Orange, Fiesta, Sun, Independence and Capital One Bowls. Rooney was inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in February 2004.
From 1984-2002, Rooney served as the radio play-by-play announcer of the men’s Final Four for the NCAA Network. He worked alongside Kentucky legend, Cawood Ledford for five years and with fellow Tom Hammond Award winner Marty Brennaman for four years.
“For over 30 years, John Rooney has been a fixture in the baseball world, holding the distinction of broadcasting for back to back World Champions with the White Sox and Cardinals,” said Hammond. “During his distinguished career, John has also done excellent work with many other sports on both radio and television, most notably with college football and basketball.”
Rooney joins previous winners Dick Enberg, Brennaman, Cris Collinsworth, Larry Conley and Larry Collmus.
The Tom Hammond Kentucky Sports Media Award goes to Jerry Tipton. Tipton has covered Kentucky men’s basketball since the 1981-82 season, through three national championships, numerous coaching changes and has covered more than 1,100 games.Before coming to Lexington, Tipton worked eight years for the Huntington (W.Va.) Herald-Dispatch where he covered Marshall’s basketball team for two seasons. The Detroit native attended Marshall University during the infamous plane crash and joined the Herald-Leader covering the bowling beat.
Tipton joins past winners Jennie Rees, Larry Vaught and Dick Gabriel, Mike Battaglia, Donna Brothers, Kenny Rice and Billy Reed.
"Since the early 80s, the one constant in UK men's basketball has been Jerry Tipton of the Lexington Herald-Leader,” said Hammond. “Because of the intense interest associated with UK basketball, covering the program is a task of extreme pressure and controversy. Through numerous coaching changes and the revolving door of players, Jerry has done his job with remarkable journalistic professionalism while under the microscope of the ‘Big Blue Nation.’"
The KHSAA which was organized in 1917 and is the agency designated by the Kentucky Department of Education to manage high school athletics in the Commonwealth will receive the Jim Host Youth Sports Award. The Association is a voluntary nonprofit organization made up of 280 member schools, both public and private. The KHSAA sanctions 40 state championships in 12 sports and four sport activities, licenses and trains over 4,000 officials, provides catastrophic insurance for its more than 70,000 member school student-athletes, as well as overseeing coaching education and sports safety programs. The KHSAA works to provide diverse and equitable opportunities for all Kentucky high school students to enjoy the privilege of participation in school and education-based sports and sport-activities as part of the educational experience to teach and hone life skills, learn perspective, have fun and develop character.
“The KHSAA has never been recognized for what it means to the Bluegrass area,” said Host. “The number of championships it provides to the area and the number of jobs created at headquarters and the fact that they’ve hosted the Sweet 16 at Rupp Arena for over 35 years is proof positive of the impact that having the KHSAA in our area has had. We are so happy to recognize Commissioner Julian Tackett and all past commissioners and the Board of Controls of the KHSAA for having their headquarters in the Bluegrass and for the economic impact it means to our community.”
Previous winners of the Youth Sports Award include Martha Layne Collins, Louis Stout, Dave Kerchner, Don Adkins, Mike Fields and Don Lane.
The Lexington Center Corporation will receive the 2018 Jim Host Sports Business Award. The Lexington Center and historic Rupp Arena are truly the heart of downtown Lexington and one of the most widely-recognized entertainment venues in North America. Opened in 1976, LCC and Rupp Arena have hosted professional UK men’s basketball home games, NCAA tournaments, ice hockey and indoor football. The annual KHSAA boys’ high school basketball championship has also called Rupp Arena home for 29 of the past 36 years. Over the years, Lexington Center and Rupp Arena have welcomed tens of millions of visitors through its doors and provided a huge economic boost to the Lexington community.
“Since the building of the Lexington Center in the mid-70s, Rupp Arena and LCC have hosted not only the University of Kentucky but also numerous NCAA events that have meant so much to Lexington’s downtown and the economic viability of the bluegrass,” said Host. “Bill Owen, as Executive Director for many years, has led the Board of Directors and has done a phenomenal job at managing a property that all of us are so proud of.”
The LCC joins previous winners Ken and Sarah Ramsey, Bill Farish, Mitch Barnhart, Alan Stein, Jerry Carroll and Ted Bassett as the Jim Host Sports Business Award recipients.
Perry becomes the third recipient of the Bobby Flynn Volunteer of the Year Award, joining Flynn, Van Florence and Kim Sweazy. Perry is co-owner of Perry and Perry State Farm Insurance and is extremely involved in the Lexington community. He is president of the prestigious Land Rover Kentucky 3-Day-Event board held at the Kentucky Horse Park annually. The Lexington native has also been an advocate for diabetes. He currently serves as secretary of the national diabetes volunteer leadership council. Perry was on the national board of directors of the American Diabetes Association where he was the national chairman in 2008. Perry has also given his time and efforts to organizations such as the Lexington Chamber of Commerce, the Kentucky State Police Foundation, the UK Wesley Foundation, Lexington Fayette Urban County Parks, and is a past president, coach and treasurer of Southeastern Babe Ruth Baseball.
In addition to these awards, the Lexington Herald-Leader will once again present its annual Sports Figure of the Year Award live to cap off the evening.
The event will consist of a reception with award winners and keynote speakers, a sit-down dinner and awards program. Proceeds from the evening will benefit the BSC and its efforts to grow the economic impact sports tourism has on central Kentucky. Tables of 10 are available for purchase for $1,250. Individual tickets are also available for $150.
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