by Christopher Annino
Local New London legend, Mitchell College Hall of Fame Inductee, former New York Yankee, and Hodgkin’s Disease survivor Johnny Ellis founded The CT Sports Foundation Against Cancer Dinner/Auction in 1987. The annual dinner raises money to assist cancer patients and their families. This year’s dinner was held on Friday, February 6th at Mohegan Sun Casino. Yankees legends Rich “Goose” Gossage, pitcher, Yogi Berra, catcher, Don Zimmer, Bucky Dent, Ron “Gator” Guidry, Rick Cerone, Graig Nettles and former Boston Red Sox slugger Jim Rice, were just a few who attended the event.
“John Ellis was a part of the swap when they traded me, from what I knew of him as a player he was a kind and generous man. Never really got to know him that well, but it is interesting tonight that our paths cross again,” said Graig Nettles, former Yankee’s third baseman.
John and a few other Red Sox legends Roger LaFrancios, Bob Stanley, and Rich Gedman met weeks prior to the dinner at the CT Dug Out Club. Each player mentioned how great a ball player and a person John is.
In regards to facing the hard throwing arms of rival Yankee’s “Goose” Gossage and Ron Guidry, Jim Rice said “We were never rivals on the field, in fact we were more equal than people think. We all loved the game and played it with a passion that’s all that mattered. We wanted to see how far we could go and we were loyal to our teams.”
The charity event was filled with celebrities and sports icons reflecting on the golden years of baseball.
“Goose” Gossage was the guest of honor and prior to his speech he said, “ I am very proud for Jim for getting inducted, I feel that Graig Nettles should be next. This is a wonderful event and it’s an honor to be the guest of honor. Cancer has affected us all in one-way or another. We need to find a way to strike it out!”