Harry Agganis was a star athlete at Lynn Classical who went on to play professional baseball with the Red Sox.
By STEVE KRAUSE
LYNN — Ten days from today, the annual week of Harry Agganis All-Star games that serve both to commemorate his legacy as Lynn’s most renowned athlete ever and help fund the scholarships presented by the foundation that bears his name will get underway.
Nicknamed “The Golden Greek,” Agganis was a star athlete at Lynn Classical who went on to play football and baseball at Boston University. He was the first person in BU history to be named an All-American. And though he was drafted out of college by the Cleveland Browns, he passed up an opportunity in pro football to play baseball for the Red Sox.
Agganis was hitting over .300 and playing first base for Boston when he was stricken on June 27, 1955, with a pulmonary embolism while in Sancta Maria Hospital in Cambridge with a viral ailment. He was 26 years old.
Upon his death, Lynn attorney Charles Demakis became the prime mover in the establishment of the Agganis Foundation. The idea was followed through by Harold O. Zimman, a former coach and mentor; Dr. Elmo F. Benedetto, who was Lynn’s athletic director; the Red Sox and The Item.
Demakis’ son, attorney Thomas C. Demakis, is the current chairman of the foundation.
Agganis Week will kick off Sunday, June 25 with an awards ceremony at Manning Field in Lynn, during which 2017 high school graduates from Lynn, the North Shore and Boston will receive Agganis scholarships, which are renewable the following three years they are in college.
Included are two new scholarships endowed by Jim Baldini, who has earmarked the money for students from West Lynn who plan to major in STEM-related subjects (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).
Among the other scholarships are those in the name of former Item sports editor Edward Cahill, Agganis’ grand-nephew Greg, and former Lynn Mayor Patrick J. McManus. The Thomas A. Yawkey Foundation funds four grants annually for students living and attending high school in Boston.
Since 1955, the Agganis Foundation has awarded scholarships totaling $1.85 million to 945 student-athletes.
The games will feature recently-graduated athletes in baseball, softball, boys and girls lacrosse, boys and girls soccer, boys and girls basketball, and football. They will be spread over a five-day period from June 25-29, with the 56th annual football game concluding the week’s events.
The Agganis Hall of Fame will induct five new members, one for a person who honors Agganis’ Greek heritage (the Charles Demakis Award), for community service (Paul F. Cavanagh), service to youth sports (Dr. Elmo F. Benedetto), service to the Agganis Foundation (Harold O. Zimman) and media coverage of youth and high school athletics (David C. Weidner).
“We are looking forward to another outstanding week,” said Paul Halloran, Agganis Games executive director. “Agganis Week has turned into a premier sports festival, giving many of the all-stars an opportunity to put on the uniform for one last time, and others a chance to play a game in preparation for their college career.”
Halloran said there are more than 360 athletes registered to play and that rosters have been finalized and will be announced early next week.