The McCormick Unsung Heroes Award has been honoring good sportsmanship since 1940 when then-company President Charles P. McCormick launched the program to recognize unselfish team play and honor those who contribute substantially to the success of their teams without receiving acclaim.
• The early Unsung Heroes awards recognized football players from 11 Baltimore City schools, and the banquets took place at McCormick headquarters in the Light Street Cafeteria. The events were often broadcast live on local television in early December.
• The original participating schools were members of the Maryland Scholastic Association (MSA). The association has since evolved and been renamed several times. Today, the participating schools belong to various leagues in Baltimore City, Baltimore County, the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) and the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland (IAAM).
• In 1969, the first Charles Perry McCormick Scholarship was established. Awardees received $2,000 over four years to continue their education. Today, the amount has grown to $40,000 over four years.
• In 1972, the banquet was moved to the Hunt Valley Inn in Baltimore County. The live television show continued until 1990.
• From 1953-1977, McCormick sponsored an Unsung Heroes event for lacrosse players. The winner's trophy was presented at half time during the MSA championship game typically played at Johns Hopkins University.
• In 1987, female basketball players were included in the awards program.
• In 2014, 113 high school seniors from 72 Baltimore area public, private, parochial and independent schools received the McCormick Unsung Heroes award.
Over the years, a host of accomplished and inspirational leaders have served as keynote speakers at the annual event. Previous speakers include:
Coach Vivian Stringer, Rutgers Women’s Basketball
Coach John Harbaugh, Baltimore Ravens
Fran Tarkenton, Retired Quarterback, Minnesota Vikings
Dick Vitale, College Sports Analyst
Mary Lou Retton, Olympic Gold Medalist
Fran Deford, Author and Senior Writer, Sports Illustrated
Jesse Owens, Legendary Track and Field Olympian
Herman Boone, Retired Coach from “Remember the Titans”
Johnny Unitas, Legendary Quarterback, Baltimore Colts