A lineup of athletes - including Sugar Ray Leonard, Dorothy Hamill, Katie Hoff, Kimmie Meissner, Vicky Bullett, Charles Jenkins, Jessica Long and Tom McMillen - is impressive enough. Mingling with them and other sports stars and reporters at a Baltimore party can make you downright giddy.
That was certainly the mood inside the Sports Legends Museum, where a couple hundred folks gathered for a VIP reception benefiting the Babe Ruth Birthplace Foundation. That soiree was just the warm-up for the evening's big bash. Some 1,000 guests would attend "A Championship Tribute to Jim McKay" to hear these sports figures honor the late sports broadcaster who had made his home in Maryland. By the smiles on the faces of Babe Ruth Museum executive director Mike Gibbons and board chair Tee Winstead, it was obvious the evening was already a huge success.
There were former Baltimore Colts Tom Matte, Bruce Laird and Lenny Moore in one corner. ESPN sports reporter/anchor Jeremy Schaap watched the scene from another. Hamill huddled with longtime ABC-TV producer/director Doug Wilson, comparing notes about their experiences with McKay.
"He was just a prince. A wonderful man. Wonderfully talented. I'm only sorry I didn't get to tell him that when he was alive," said Hamill, the 1976 Olympic gold medal-winning skater.
Meanwhile, skater Kimmie Meissner had her sights set on another sports hero who would be joining the group at the bigger event; someone who could, perhaps, give her a few inside tips.
"I cannot wait to meet Michael Phelps ... and ask him some questions like 'How do you do that? Win eight gold medals?!'"
Way more than a recommendation
Seems Towson University head basketball coach Pat Kennedy and wife Jeannie may soon have some friends in high places. And we're not talking the height of his players. At the Babe Ruth Museum's "Tribute to Jim McKay," the Kennedys were looking forward to Election Day with a particularly personal interest, and a great story to tell.
"My son, Joseph Kennedy, played basketball at Northwestern University," Kennedy said.
"One summer, he wanted to do an internship in D.C., and went in to ask for a letter of recommendation from the head coach. The coach looked at the [application] for the internship and said, 'I can't do this. You need to go down and talk to the assistant coach.' ... So, he took it to Assistant Coach Craig Robinson. Robinson looked at it and said, 'Are you sure you want to work for this guy, Joe?' He said, 'Yeah, I just need a letter of recommendation.' So, Coach Robinson took out his cell phone, dialed a number and said, 'Hey Barack, Craig here. Hey, I got this kid, Joe Kennedy, he'd love to work on the campaign.'
"Well, Craig Robinson happened to be Michelle Obama's brother. ... And Joe's now one of the top folks running [the campaign] in the state of Iowa for Senator Obama. And someday, we hope he'll [work] in the White House."
City Charms Chinn At the opening-night party for Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, managing director Debbie Chinn talked about the last time Center Stage produced the Edward Albee play, when an arson at a restaurant next door destroyed the theater.
"What really strikes me about Baltimore is how friendly and supportive and gracious it is to newcomers. ... [In 1974, with] generosity, perseverance and tenacity ... the entire community rallied together to save this company and put us in this building. ... I'm lovin' it here."