Sonny Hill Honored for Years of ‘Giving’
Philadelphia Sports Hall of Famer (HoF) Sonny Hill has been named recipient of this year’s Ed Snider Lifetime Humanitarian Award from the Philadelphia Sports Writers Association (PSWA). Snider was the 2013 recipient.
Hill joins Phillies pitcher Aaron Nola, Outstanding Pro Player of the Year, former Eagle Mike Quick, Living Legend, and Special Achievement recipients former Flyer Brian Propp and Temple basketball coach Fran Dunphy. The public is invited to the PSWA dinner on Monday, Jan. 21 at the Crowne Plaza in Cherry Hill.
The HoF refers to Hill as “The Mayor of Basketball” in Philadelphia “who has incorporated basketball into his efforts to contribute to a greater society.”
In 1968, he founded what is now the Sonny Hill Community Involvement League, an amateur summer basketball organization in the Delaware Valley. Its original purpose was to serve as a safe haven for young men. In fact, it’s been said, “The Sonny Hill League has done more to battle the perils of gangs and drugs and promote life skills than any other program in Philadelphia.”
He also co-founded the Charles Baker Memorial Summer League (1960), which became the top off-season professional summer league in the country. In 2004, Sports Illustrated listed Hill among the 100 “most influential minorities in sports.” For years, he’s been instrumental in assuring students who need tutoring and career counseling receive it through his programs.
Hill’s basketball expertise can be heard every Sunday morning on WIP (94.1) where he’s hosted a program since 1987. His broadcasting career started 50 years ago when 76ers play-by-play announcer Andy Musser asked Hill to be his analyst. In the mid-70s he could be seen on NBA games carried by CBS-TV.
Flyers’ founder, the late Ed Snider established the award’s criteria: A person concerned with the needs of others who attempts to improve lives, inspire both children and adults to learn and achieve life’s goals, alleviate personal suffering and/or setbacks, and provide charitable acts or gifts – many times anonymously – and personal time “paying it forward.”
Other honorees include college football hall of famer, former Temple great Paul Palmer, Phillies’ retiring director of travel and clubhouse services Frank Coppenbarger, Flyers/Phillies announcer Jim Jackson, hall of fame football writer Ray Didinger and Eastern High School’s number-one-ranked field hockey team in the nation.
The Eagles and Villanova basketball teams are the Pro and Amateur Teams of the Year. An evening’s highlight will be the presentation of the Most Courageous Athlete, kept secret until it is presented. The internationally-acclaimed award traditionally goes to an athlete who has returned to his or her sport after experiencing a severe injury or other setback and returning to the sport.
The Flyers’ Gritty and sports comedian Joe Conklin will entertain. PSWA is the oldest organization of its kind in the nation and its awards dinner – now in its 115th year – is the longest running sports-related dinner in the country. Tickets for this years event are available here.