Over the years I must have attended a couple hundred banquets. Most were enjoyable. Some were unforgettable.
Who could forget the hilarious talk at the Scholar-Athlete dinner by a young Lou Holtz when he was coach at North Carolina State?
Who will ever forget the inspiring speech Joe Paterno once gave at an Evening Sun High School Athlete of the Year luncheon?
Who could forget the Tops in Sports banquets with Hall of Fame baseball players from one end of the head table to the other?
Who could forget the uplifting talk, just a month ago, by blind Tom Sullivan at the McCormick Unsung Hero dinner?
Great events all, but there has never been a banquet here like the one held Saturday night at the Hunt Valley Marriott.
Seven hundred thirty-five persons paid $65 apiece to attend. Not one of them was there to gape at celebrities or because some business had bought a table and given away tickets. The night had nothing to do with politics.
Nine speakers talked for two hours until 11.15 p.m. A magnificent, 17-piece orchestra -- the Crystal Strings -- entertained before and during dinner.
All this to honor a dinosaur.
This was a testimonial dinner for Bob Scott, who retires at Johns Hopkins on the last day of this month after spending nearly 50 years there as student, athlete, coach and director of athletics.
That's why Scott is a dinosaur.
He came to the university in 1948 and, except for two years in the Army after graduation, he has never left. People no longer come to a school and spend the rest of their lives there. College athletic directors certainly don't.
Maryland has a new one every three years. Debbie Yow has been there less than a year.
Towson State on May 24 welcomed a new one -- Wayne Edwards, from UMass-Lowell. Joe Boylan, who went to Lafayette, has been Loyola's A.D. for five years.
Bryan Matthews, a Washington College alumnus, just completed his first year as A.D. there. Six years ago, Jack Lengyel came to Navy, Dr. Charles Brown to UMBC. Geoff Miller has been at Goucher a year.
"The profession has changed," Washington College's Matthews says. "You don't see people do what Scottie did. The dinner for him was a great event and he deserved it. The only other dinosaur I know is Ed Athey at our school."
Athey, who sat with his wife, Matthews and Charley Clark at the Scott testimonial, came out of Cumberland more than 50 years ago and found a home at Washington College. He was a coach and A.D. most of his life. He's still the Shoremen's baseball coach.
"Years ago," says Athey, "when a school needed an athletic director they just gave the job to one of the coaches. Now people go to places to train for the job."
No school -- not the Wharton School, not the Harvard Business School, no place -- can instill in a person the qualities with which Bob Scott has enriched Hopkins all these years.
It's not that he's superhuman. It's that he's so human.
His is not a giant intellect. He is not a great administrator. He could never rest on laurels won as a great athlete. He tells everyone he was an "average" athlete. But, oh, what qualities he did bring:
Loyalty. Honesty. Integrity. Dedication. A genuine concern for all kinds of people. And undying faith in those who serve with him.
Said Hopkins basketball coach Bill Nelson: "Scotty really stands up for the coaching staff. He has a talent for blending people together so they can have a good time working with each other."
Gene Corrigan, commissioner of the Atlantic Coast Conference and presently, in addition, president of the NCAA, has been a good friend of Scott's since the two were lacrosse opponents.
Corrigan played at Duke. He also coached at Washington and Lee and Virginia against Scott and Hopkins.
"Do you know what my record was against Scotty?" Corrigan asked. "It was 1-11."
Yesterday at Loyola, Joe Boylan was talking about the banquet and Corrigan's interplay with Scott.
"I looked at that," Boylan said, "and I thought -- two guys from Baltimore. One from Govans, one from Forest Park. One's president of the NCAA, one attracted this huge crowd to his retirement dinner simply because they all just wanted to be there to honor him. That's what made it a special evening."
On July 1, 42-year old Tom Calder moves into Scott's job. He has been an assistant A.D. at Hopkins for seven years.
"It was humbling, just being at the banquet," Calder said yesterday.
When Calder was chosen for the position, Scott was elated. That says a lot about Calder. Scotty's strong endorsement will be a huge help to the new man.