MISSION - A host of celebrities from the world of sports, movies and television are enjoying a weekend of golf and sunshine at the Wildhorse Celebrity Golf Tournament.
Golfing foursomes are joined by one celebrity in the scramble format. After Friday's round a blind draw was held and the celebrities will change teams for today's round.
Former Portland Trailblazer Bob Gross was complimentary of the Pendleton area.
"It's a great place to come and I really appreciate the people and how we're treated," Gross said. "The kids here always say thank you. That doesn't happen too many other places."
Former NY Met pitcher Tom Gorman joined the team of Bill Quaempts, Leo Stewart, Gary George and Louie Quaempts to post a score of 55 for Friday's low round. Former Oakland Athletic pitcher Vida Blue had a score of 56 with the team of Doug Doyle, Cheryl Doyle, Nels Nelson and Howard Headley.
In a tie for second place with 56 was former NFL star Harry Carson of the Giants. He played with Kelly Mason, Matt Roden, Allen Waggoner and Paul Emmert. In fourth place was the team of actor Bruce Locke, Vern McKay, Chazz Webb, Chuck Jones and Mike Jones with a 57.
Another former Blazer, Darrell Imhoff, was also enjoying himself, saying, "Any time an old-timer has people ask for an autograph, it's a great time."
Butch Thurman, coordinator of the tournament, was pleased with the line-up of celebrities that Wildhorse was able to bring to the area.
"We do this for the community and our customers," Thurman said. "It lets the people in the area see some celebrities and play some golf with them. They can play two rounds of golf, attend the banquet and meet all of the celebrities."
For those not golfing, a meet-and-greet was held for the community on Friday at Wildhorse Casino, where all of the stars were on hand to sign autographs. Many pictures were taken and the fans got to spend some time with the celebrities.
Most of the former Blazers had been to Pendleton before, including Maurice Lucas, who was a coordinator of the event with Thurman. This was his third time to visit Pendleton.
When asked how his golfing went, Lucas quipped, "I'll win this. I'm in charge of the scoring."
The golfers braved some Eastern Oregon heat, but all seemed to enjoy themselves.
"I had fun today," Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Gibson remarked. "Is it always this hot?"
Former Blazer Jerome Kersey, now an assistant coach with the Milwaukee Bucks, has been to Pendleton many times and has enjoyed it.
"It gives people a chance to meet you personally and maybe you can add a little joy to somebody's life," he said of his reason for coming to these tournaments.
"There's a lot of support for us in the area and it's a great thrill for me. I mean, I'm sitting right next to Bob Gibson!"
Kersey's teammates on Friday's round were impressed by his demeanor and personality.
"This has been exhilarating and hard to take in," Pendleton's Les Kannier said. "Jerome is a humble man who has tried to get to know us individually."
Greg Glover, also of Pendleton, echoed Kannier's sentiments, saying, "Jerome Kersey is a great guy and we've had a lot of fun."
Former Oakland A's pitcher Vida Blue said he was enjoying the hospitality afforded him.
"Folks are accommodating," he said. "It makes me want to come back."
One man who has a warm feeling for the Pendleton area is former Blazer broadcaster Bill Shonely, who has visited the area many times.
"I came here in (1981) with Dave Twardzik to do a clinic," Shonely said. "We went out to the Country Club to play golf and I had a heart attack. The people here took very good care of me, so whatever I can do for the local community, I will do."
The tournament will continue today and will finish with a banquet and award ceremony tonight, with former Blazer Bill Walton as the emcee.
Walton summed up the feeling shared by everyone involved, saying, "We're having a great time."