Robert Iamurri and Edward Morton did not know ahead of time they would be guests of honor Friday night at the Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce annual dinner.
Yet, in a packed ballroom at the Ritz Carlton Golf Resort, the legendary Naples High School softball coach and Collier County business leader were both singled out for decades of good work.
Iamurri was named the Naples Daily News Citizen of the Year. Morton was honored with the chamber's first Visionary Award.
"I was very fortunate," Iamurri said on stage. "I grew up in Naples."
He grew up playing baseball and has been a fixture in Southwest Florida softball since long before any of his current players were born. When he was 14 he helped his father, John, now 90, start a Little League softball program.
"It wasn't cool to coach girls then," Iamurri said.
He and the girls he coached made softball cool in Naples.
The Naples native and 1977 Lely High School graduate began coaching at Barron Collier High School in 1981 as an assistant. He became Barron Collier's head coach in 1982 and then went to his alma mater for two years as an assistant.
Then, in 1986, Iamurri started his legendary run at Naples High School.
When he began coaching, Florida high schools still played slow-pitch softball. In 1988, the state switched to fast-pitch.
The honors have piled up nearly as high as his state titles. In a 10-year stretch from 1989 to 1998, Naples won eight state titles.
During a video tribute to Iamurri, the song "You Gotta Have Heart" from "Damn Yankees" was the background music.
The video also included friends and former players talking about Iamurri. The words used in rapid-fire succession included "loyal, strong, persistent, friend, dedicated, tough."
Iamurri's brother, Rocky, got him to the Ritz for the event. Iamurri thought his father might be honored. He said after the event that his father won the same award about 40 years ago.
That's about the time Morton came to Naples.
Keeping Morton in the dark about Friday evening was a team effort. His wife, Linda, kept the purpose of the evening a secret.
"He knows there's an event," Linda Morton said as the ballroom was filling.
Morton's three sons and daughter came to the Ritz to see their dad honored.
"We're very proud and excited," Linda said. "He deserves it."
Morton, managing director of the Naples-based Wasmer Schroeder & Co., an investment advising firm, was widely praised. He is a past CEO of NCH Healthcare System. The Vietnam vet and Notre Dame grad has served as director and on the boards of numerous agencies.
"His fingerprints are all over all that is good in Collier County," Michael Reagen, the chamber's president and CEO., said before the presentation.
Katie Sproul, the chamber's chairwoman, introduced a video on Morton's extraordinary life and career that covered his family, military service and business achievements. He has two masters degree and at 64 is closing in on a third. He and Linda have been married for 43 years.
Sproul explained in three words why Morton was selected for the first visionary award.
"The obvious choice," Sproul said.
More meaningful to Morton, though, were the comments he heard from friends.
"Humbled that I have so many good friends," Morton said.
When Morton took the stage he spoke briefly and started by noting that "we succeed or fail as a team."
No more than a minute later he closed by saying, "God bless everyone and God bless the United States."