NeveHarms Bruce Saurs, the successful local businessman and avid sports fan who saved professional hockey for our city, has been named winner of the 1990 Neve Harms Meritorious Service to Sports Award.
Saurs' purchase of the debt-ridden Peoria Rivermen on July 1, 1989 began a success story beyond imagination that has brought the team to prominence on the Peoria sports scene. To immediately stabilize the team, Saurs signed a three-year lease with the Peoria Civic Center and a six- year affiliation with the NHL St. Louis Blues. Under his leadership, the team showed a profit in its first fiscal year of operation.
A life-long Peorian, Bruce graduated from Peoria High School where he lettered in baseball for three seasons, making two state tournament appearances. He returned to teach and coach at Peoria High after graduation from Bradley University. He was the head baseball mentor for six years, and also served as assistant in both basketball and football. From1950 to 1955 his baseball teams compiled an impressive record of 121-62, making two trips to the Illinois State High School Tournament.
In 1951, working with the late Ed Stonebock and Harold Llntz, Bruce was instrumental in helping to establish the first Little League Baseball Program in Peoria. He later followed in the footsteps of his father, the late Eddie Saurs, a 1968 Neve Harms winner, taking over as Manager of the
Cohen team in the Sunday Morning League for several seasons. He started playing A.M. ball at age 14 ending his career at age 21, when, as Bruce often states, "I built such a great team - I couldn't make it myself."
For the Peoria Rivermen, Bruce Saurs developed a marketing plan geared to good hockey, entertainment, and a family audience. The club drew a franchise record 190,000, and drew praise from League Commissioner Tom Berry.
So far, the 1990-1991 season has been an even bigger success story, highlighted by the 18-game winning streak that gave the Rivermen the longest winning streak in Professional Hockey history, while bringing to Peoria national media attention.
Bruce Saurs, the successful local businessman and avid sports fan who saved professional hockey for our city, has been named winner of the 1990 Neve Harms Meritorious Service to Sports Award.
A 1974 Bradley University graduate and longtime financial consultant for MassMutual Financial Group, Paul Herzog has served as the public address "Voice of the Braves" for nearly 600 Bradley men's basketball games for the past 39 seasons, including every game the Braves have played at Carver Arena and Renaissance Coliseum. In addition to his volunteer service for Bradley, Herzog has served as the volunteer public address announcer for every game the Peoria Civic Center has hosted in the IHSA Boys Basketball State Tournament during its 20-year run in the River City.
While "PA" Paul is well-known for his role with Bradley Basketball and the IHSA, his community service extends far beyond Carver Arena. A Braves Club Board of Directors member for 20 years and a past president (1992-94) of the organization, Herzog also served as president of the Central Illinois Bradley Alumni Chapter (1983-85) and the Bradley University National Alumni Association (1990-91). He also has began emceeing the IHSA State Cross Country Championships awards ceremony in 1996.
Closer to his home in Germantown Hills, Herzog has coached in youth baseball and basketball house leagues and from 2006-13 he was a member of the Germantown Hills Athletic Association Board of Directors. He served as a committe co-chair in the effort to acquire land for the expansion of youth sports in Germantown Hills, which led to the addition of 20 acres to school district property. Herzog also brought a little of the Bradley Basketball experience to the Germantown Hills Grade School Boys Basketball program by serving as the public address announcer from 2008-12.
Herzog is the recipient of numerous service awards, including the Bradley Varsity Club Billy Stone Service Award, the Bradley University Lydia Moss Bradley Award, the IHSA March Madness Volunteer of the Year and the IHSA Distinguished Service Award. He was inducted into the Bradley Athletics Hall of Fame in 2011.