It was a fitting tribute on Friday, June 2nd as the Horticultural Building at Lansdowne was transformed into a glittering backdrop for the ceremony to induct the founding partners of the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group (OSEG) into the Ottawa Sport Hall of Fame.
Surrounded by 350 members of the sport and business community, Roger Greenberg, John Ruddy, Jeff Hunt, John Pugh and Bill Shenkman, joined the ranks of Ottawa sport legends as members of the Hall. The five men were integral to the revitalization of Lansdowne into a pre-eminent sport and entertainment facility, and orchestrated the return of CFL football to the nation’s capital. All five humbly accepted the award, with self-deprecating humorous remarks that despite their own lack of personal athletic ability, it was a very proud moment to now be honoured inductees of the Hall.
There was definitely a football flavor to the evening, as the five new inductees proudly displayed their 2016 Grey Cup rings, celebrating the latest Grey Cup win by the Ottawa RedBlacks. And prior to the induction ceremony, ‘Pedro the Panda’ the legendary mascot of the annual varsity football game between Carleton University and the University of Ottawa was marched into the hall (under full police security so he wouldn’t be kidnapped yet again). Many members of the Ottawa CFL alumni were on hand for the festivities, reaching as far back as teams from the 1950. The CFL alumni included Dave Thelen, Moe Racine, Whit Tucker, Russ Jackson, Jeff Avery, Gerry Organ and many more.
Other members of the sport community and honoured inductees were in attendance. One of the newest inductees, from 2016, Tina Takahashi proudly represented her sport of judo and Ottawa’s own Liz Manley returned home to celebrate the evening.
The top 50 Ottawa Sport Moments, dating as far back as the formation of the The Ottawa Hockey Club in 1883 and the first recorded game of female hockey in 1891 were a highlight of the evening. The 50 moments, presented chronologically in groups of ten, illustrated the wide diversity of exceptional athletes and builders who are a part of Ottawa’s history. The final two moments were the 2016 Red Blacks Grey Cup victory and the Ottawa Curling Club’s rink, skipped by Rachel Homan winning the 2017 World Women’s Curling Championship.
The Voice of the Ottawa Senators, TSN 1200’s Dean Brown was the emcee for the evening, and also served as auctioneer for the live auction of three amazing prizes donated. Porter Airlines and the Ottawa Senators teamed up to provide a trip to a Sens away game anywhere Porter flies. OSEG donated a guest box for an upcoming home RedBlacks game, and two exquisite paintings from sport artist Tony Harris rounded out the auction.
Funds raised from the Ottawa Sport Hall of Fame gala go to preserve the current activities of the Hall, including its display in the Heritage Building at Ottawa City Hall.