BOSTON – The 63rd anniversary of the untimely passing of Harry Agganis, the greatest Greek-American athlete of all time, was commemorated on June 27 by the Boston Red Sox who honored his memory and legacy at the storied Fenway Park in Boston. Prior to the Red Sox-Los Angeles Angels game there was a ceremony in front of the sold out crowd, which included 2,000 Greek-Americans. The presentation included the near-mythical details of the storied career of Harry, the “Golden Greek,” and the tragedy of his death in the midst of the first full season of his much anticipated Boston Red Sox career.
Agganis, a native of Lynn, Massachusetts, the youngest of seven children, had a heralded career at Lynn Classical High School as a three-sport athlete, followed by an All-American football career at nearby Boston University. Agganis spurned a large signing bonus as a first round draft pick and future quarterback of the Cleveland Browns, in order to stay near his widowed mother and play baseball for the Boston Red Sox. In the midst of his first full season with the Red Sox and batting clean-up behind the Hall of Famer Ted Williams, Agganis was hospitalized first with pneumonia in June, 1955, and died shortly thereafter of a pulmonary embolism.
These many years later, the Boston Red Sox, on Greek Heritage Night, honored the short but spectacular career of Harry Agganis, with a pre-game and scoreboard tribute, including photos of Harry with his widowed mom, his high school career at Lynn Classical, his All-American football career for the Boston University Terriers, and ultimately his short career with the Red Sox.
The narrated presentation culminated in the unveiling of a bronze plaque memorializing his high school, college, and Red Sox careers. The event was organized by the efforts of the Alpha Omega Council of Boston, a non-profit philanthropic and charitable organization of Hellenic leaders in the Boston area, and the net proceeds, funded by the over 2,000 Greek-Americans attending the game, benefited the Metropolis of Boston’s summer camp in New Hampshire.
The ceremony was highlighted by the introduction of Mike Agganis, the nephew of Harry, and his son, Greg Agganis, whose combined efforts sustain the Agganis Foundation which annually awards scholarships in the Boston area to high school athletes and sponsors the Harry Agganis All-Star football game for graduating high school seniors. Greek Ambassador to the United States Haris Lalacos threw out the ceremonial first pitch. The Youth Choir from Saint Catherine Greek Orthodox Church in Braintree, MA, and the Greek soloist Aggeliki Psoni performed the National Anthem.
The Order of AHEPA has commenced a collaboration with the Agganis Foundation, in that its premier athletic award is granted annually to the Most Outstanding Hellenic Athlete in memory of Agganis and is entitled “the Harry Agganis Award.” Gregory J. Stamos, head of the Order of AHEPA’s National Awards including the Agganis Award, represented the Order at the Ceremony, and two Ahepans were amongst the honorees that evening; George Behrakis- Boston area philanthropist who was honored for his generosity and leadership on Hellenic issues, and Colonel Peter J. Vergados, who represented the military.