Approximately 400 people filled the El Paso Community College Administrative Services Center on Wednesday evening for the 64th annual El Paso Athletic Hall of Fame Awards Banquet in which eight new members were enshrined.  Among this year's class was 600 ESPN El Paso's very own Duke Keith.  Keith, who was inducted under the media category was the second to the last one to speak throughout an evening filled with memories and heat-filled acceptance speeches.

Keith was introduced by fellow Hall of Famer and emcee Steve Kaplowitz who not only did a superior job of hosting the event but also set up Duke to come on stage with a spiel for the ages.  Duke, the only inductee to bring a bag of props on stage, came up dressed in a suit and tie and spoke for five-plus minutes about the honor that was bestowed upon him.  The props that Duke had turned out to be a variety of hats that he had acquired throughout his 30 plus years of broadcasting virtually every sport in the Sun City and literally signified the fact he has worn all hats and has been as versatile of a sportscaster as we've ever seen in El Paso.

Keith's first hat was an old school one of UTEP from the bookstore that he bought when he first came to El Paso in 1990.  He also had an El Paso Buzzards hat as well, each one symbolizing a moment in his career and had an interesting story to accompany it.  My favorite story was about the El Paso Buzzards when Duke described what it was like broadcasting their games and traveling thousands of miles cross country via bus with the team.

Duke facetiously mentioned that most people think that Canadians are some of the friendliest people around, but he begs to differ.  He noted the one time that he ventured on a 20-hour bus ride with the team to call a game in Mississippi and had received $20 per diem for food.  Keith said that the Buzzards loved to play cards on the bus to pass the time and invited him to play as well by saying "hey buddy, come on over and play some cards with us, it's fun buddy!"  The kicker was that these guys were playing for money, $5 per hand.

Duke graciously accepted and sure enough lost his $20 meal money in four straight hands.  Around 15 years later Rhinos coach Corey Herman who also used to play for the Buzzards told Duke that the game was rigged and they had taken him for his $20.  It was truly a classic story.  Duke concluded his speech by talking about how his career has been like a stained glass window in the respect that a variety of glass has been placed together in one window to make a true piece of beauty and art, and he mentioned that it's great we live in El Paso as a lot of sunlight has been able to shine through it over the years.

Congratulations to Duke Keith, one of the most deserving individuals I've ever met in my life to have received the honor of a lifetime of being inducted into the El Paso Athletic Hall of Fame.  It would be difficult to find a more humble, generous and loving individual on this planet who has done more for his community and changed so many lives in numerous ways.  Duke is one of a kind and his legacy as one of the greatest broadcasters in the history of El Paso sports continues to live on and will forever.


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