John Asher, a well-known sports journalist and public relations expert who parlayed an award-winning career in radio news into a public relations position at Churchill Downs, is among the six individuals who have been selected for induction as the 2021 class of the Kentucky Sports Hall of Fame.
A native of Leitchfield, Ky., Asher earned recognition during his time at Churchill Downs as the preeminent expert on the Kentucky Derby (G1). He worked in radio news for three decades, earning five Eclipse Awards for “Outstanding National Radio Coverage of Thoroughbred Racing” and countless other honors, including being named seven times by the Associated Press as Kentucky large market radio’s “Best Reporter.” A beloved member of the racing community, Asher also received several industry awards, including the Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners’ Warner L. Jones Jr. Horseman of the Year award in 2006, the Charles W. Engelhard Award for excellence in media coverage from the Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders, the Dean Eagle Award from the Knights of Columbus, and a media award from the Kentucky Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association.
He was an accomplished play-by-play announcer for basketball, baseball and horse racing, including stints with the Louisville Redbirds, the Kentucky High School Athletic Association Boy’s Sweet Sixteen and Latonia Racetrack. For 20 years (1997-2018), he was one of the most important public relations professionals in Thoroughbred racing, rising to the level of Vice President of Racing Information at Churchill Downs.
Asher passed away at age 62 in August 2018.
Comprising the 44th KSHOF class in addition to Asher are: Dwane Casey, member of the 1978 University of Kentucky (UK) NCAA Basketball National Champions who earned NBA Coach of the Year honors; Romeo Crennel, a football star at Western Kentucky University (WKU) with 39 years’ coaching experience in the NFL, including five Super Bowl wins as a defensive coordinator; Rachel Komisarz Baugh, an SEC-champion swimmer at UK and assistant coach at the University of Louisville who set five U.S. records and one world record and earned Olympic gold and silver; Keith Madison, former record-setting baseball coach at UK who is a member of the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame; and Elmore Smith, an All-American basketball player who led Kentucky State University (KSU) to back-to-back NAIA Championships who still holds the NBA single-game record for blocked shots.
A selection committee comprised of 15 sports media professionals from throughout the Commonwealth selected this year’s class. All votes by the selection committee were independently tabulated by regional accounting firm Dean Dorton, one of the largest accounting and advisory firms in Kentucky, with offices in Louisville and Lexington.
The 2021 KSHOF class members and their families will be honored on Sept. 7, 2021, at the Galt House Hotel in downtown Louisville. For ticket information or sponsorship opportunities, contact Julie Howell at [email protected] / (502) 587-6742.
The KSHOF is owned and operated by the Louisville Sports Commission, a Kentucky-based non-profit whose mission is to attract, create, host and operate sporting events and activities that enhance the quality of life of the Commonwealth. The KSHOF was founded in 1963 to recognize athletes and sports figures who are Kentucky natives as well as individuals who participated in their respective sport or made a significant impact in their sport in Kentucky.
“The KSHOF Class of 2021 recognizes six outstanding individuals who represent a broad spectrum of sports and occupations – individuals who had a major impact on sports in the Commonwealth and on the national and international stage,” said Louisville Sports Commission President and CEO Karl F. Schmitt Jr. “We appreciate the support of the Kentucky Lottery as our presenting sponsor for the third consecutive year, and the work of regional accounting and advisory firm Dean Dorton for officially tabulating the votes.”