SUDBURY – Sudbury’s Caruso Club upper hall was filled to the brim with a veritable Who’s Who of sports legends as the 51st Greater Sudbury Celebrity Dinner and Awards evening inducted the 2019 honourees into the Greater Sudbury Sports Hall of Fame. Among those being honoured was Manitoulin’s own Don Prescott, whose work in sports administration has made him a legend in his own right.
The evening began with an introduction by Hall of Fame founder Chris Sheridan. “Tonight marks the 51st year that the Sports Celebrity Dinner has been held in our community,” he said. “This year’s class of inductees exemplify the value of unwavering commitment to athletic activity. Our inductees range in age and sport, but all maintain the same attitude: passion for a lifetime. In speaking with this year’s class I’ve learned just how powerful that passion and the drive for excellence can be.”
“On behalf of the members of city council I am pleased to extend my best wishes and a warm welcome to all those attending the 51st annual Sports Celebrity Dinner and Awards,” said Sudbury Mayor Brian Bigger. “This is a milestone evening for all involved including the 2019 inductees into the Greater Sudbury Sports Hall of Fame.” Mayor Bigger went on to thank the House of Kin along with all of the organizing members, sponsors and volunteers for their hard work.”
Master of Ceremonies Joe Drago announced the honourees to thunderous applause before the hall was asked to observe a moment of silence in honour those who have passed on. Following Grace, Jean Grignon offered a toast to her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
The buffet style dinner offered by the Caruso Club did justice to that organization’s reputation, then things got down to the business at hand. Many of the names being honoured that evening would be familiar to most Island residents as the fame of the inductees has often spilled over into the Manitoulin District and beyond and onto the national and international arenas.
But the name most familiar to Island residents hands down is that of the inimitable Don Prescott, who was honoured in the Builder category for his tireless work both regionally and provincially during the glory years of Sudbury and District softball/fastball from the 1950s to late 1970s.
“In that era the town of Capreol produced many championship teams, typically within the All-Ontario Junior C and Intermediate B and C categories,” said the late Norm Mayer in his notes in the awards dinner program (sadly Mr. Mayer passed away the week before the dinner).
Mr. Prescott’s citation noted that he was born in North Bay in November 1932 and that he played a key role in those championships. Mr. Prescott placed only his family ahead of sports. In hockey he was both a player and referee and in softball he filled the roles of player, coach and umpire. On Manitoulin Island Mr. Prescott was probably best known for his work in organizing and umpiring baseball games across the Island.
“His most significant contribution from the mid-1960s up to the present day has been with the All-Ontario Amateur Softball Association, serving as vice-president of Softball Canada,” said Mr. Drago. “Don would also coach Junior and Juvenile Ontario championship teams in Capreol before leaving the area.”
Capreol’s loss was Manitoulin’s gain, as Mr. Prescott immediately took up coaching the Little Current Legion ball club, taking on the role of secretary of the Manitoulin Softball League soon after his arrival to teach with the Manitoulin Board of Education.
In 1984, Mr. Prescott was awarded the All-Ontario Amateur Softball Association’s prestigious Frank R. Feaver Trophy—aka the Mr. Softball Award—for his tireless dedication to the sport.
Mr. Prescott’s son Delroy, who has been a familiar face at ball games since practically the day he first saw the light of day (his mother brought him to a game literally from the hospital following his birth) and who took up the torch umpiring local games following his father’s retirement, spoke on behalf of his father who now resides at Manitoulin Centennial Manor and attended thanks to the good graces of the West End’s Angel Bus. “My father produced many championship teams,” noted Mr. Prescott, who began his address by thanking Hall of Famer and his father’s long time friend Mickey McKinney. Mr. Prescott said that Mr. McKinney was his father’s nominator, along with Jim Cappadocia, Stu Thomas, and former long time NDP politician Eli Martel, all from Capreol, and Greg Lockyer of Manitoulin for letters of support. He went on the thank the selection committee.
In a slight departure from protocol, a small crowd of well-wishers gathered around the wheel-chair bound Mr. Prescott as the beaming honouree accepted his award plaque.