That month, The Evening Sun corralled 18 male "Prep Stars of the Week" at a restaurant atop the downtown Holiday Inn and named its first High School Athlete of the Year.
On Tuesday at M&T Bank Stadium, that event will be held for the 40th time. A male and female Athlete of the Year will be selected from among The Sun's 76 weekly winners named during the school year.
Many of the 69 former Athletes of the Year (42 men and 27 women) honored during the past four decades are expected to attend. One of them - Karen Stout, who is now president of Montgomery County Community College (Pa.) - will address the group. Stout, a three-sport standout from Bel Air, broke ground as the newspaper's first female Athlete of the Year in 1978, a time when Title IX was just beginning to open doors for women.
At its start, the ceremony was limited geographically. All 18 hopefuls hailed from inside the Beltway or from private schools in the metro area. They included Tim Nordbrook (Loyola), Sherm Bristow (Gilman), Wayne Jackson (Edmondson) and Lenny Scott (Dunbar).
The judges - then a panel of area high school athletic directors - surprised everyone by bypassing those 18 prospects and selecting as grand winner an athlete who hadn't been singled out during the year. He was Don Russell, of Southern.
Southern has since undergone a name change (Digital Harbor). So has the event. The Evening Sun ceased publishing in 1995.
The sponsor changed, but not the general criteria for choosing the champions. From the beginning, the award has favored athletes who excel in all seasons. For instance, Russell played football, basketball and baseball, as have 10 of the winners who have followed him.
Versatility is emphasized over specialization. In 1983, for instance, the award went to neither of the two future NBA stars from Dunbar High, but to a three-sport standout from Anne Arundel County.
Seated at his table at the banquet, Azizuddin Abdur-Ra'oof, of Northeast High, thought his chances nil.
"[Dunbar's] Reggie Williams was in the running. Muggsy Bogues was there," Abdur-Ra'oof said. "I said, 'I don't have any chance at all.'"
When Abdur-Ra'oof's name was called, "I was stunned," he said. "Do you know who gave me my trophy? Cal Ripken."
At that fete, Ripken was the guest speaker, having been named American League Rookie of the Year in 1982. Four years earlier, as a baseball star at Aberdeen, Ripken had competed for the Athlete of the Year award himself.
Ripken lost. In 1978, the trophy went to Calvin Maddox, a premier basketball player, long jump champion and football ace from Dunbar High.
Small schools, tooIn 1987, that tri-season excellence thrust Jenny Achziger Gosselin to the head of the pack. A three-sport star, she hailed from Francis Scott Key, a speck in the far western reaches of the metro area.
"I didn't think," she said, "that someone from a small school out in Carroll County would ever win."
As with Maddox, Achziger Gosselin's talents were needed every season.