WILLIAMSBURG, Ky. - University of the Cumberlands (UC) baseball program hosted a special 125th Homecoming Alumni Weekend on Saturday October 5th in Williamsburg. This was a time of celebration as many former Indians and Patriots came together to enjoy company with one another as well as a time of remembrance of one great in Cumberlands baseball history.
Tragedies occur all the time, but we don’t tend to notice them until it happens close to home. For many, the death of outstanding baseball star Jason Ellis hit home. This was a man who truly left a legacy.
Jason Ellis, a University of the Cumberlands (UC) 2003 alumni, was one of the best baseball players to ever walk onto the diamond in Williamsburg. He was a record holder in a number of categories, such as all-time batting average leader at .389 and all-time career leader in hits with a total of 246. Furthermore, he was all-time career leader with a record of 60 doubles, 34 home runs, and a whopping 183 runs in the duration of his career. Ellis played a total of 186 games in his time at UC and holds several team records for a season, including being first in hits with a record of 93, first in doubles with 30, and first in games played with 63.
Even with all of these remarkable statistics, Ellis also excelled in shutting down the other team’s runs while he was a catcher. Coach Terry Stigall, one of Ellis’ former coaches, had only positive things to say about Jason, saying, “Jason was the best player I’ve ever coached. Every bit of a good player he was, he was as good a person. He always set a good example for young players and veterans.”
Although players with skills as remarkable as Ellis’ can sometimes let it go to their head, Ellis was different. He was a leader both on and off the field, hanging out with freshman teammates and helping out where he could to make a difference in people’s lives.
“Jason was a tremendous player, but none of that compares to the type of person he was. He was an unselfish teammate who had a humble attitude and I’m thankful I was able to coach him,” said UC Coach Brad Shelton.
After leaving UC, Ellis was signed by the Cincinnati Reds and played for them for the next three years at Sarasota, Florida and in Billings, Montana in their minor league systems. His passionate dream for being a professional was ended only by injuries that prevented him from continuing this career in 2005. This didn’t hinder him, though. Soon enough, he was moving on to join the Bardstown City Police Department later in the year of 2005. In 2008, he became the K-9 Officer with the Canine Unit and received the Officer of the Year Award. He also received the Governor’s Award for Impaired Driving Enforcement in 2007 and 2008.
Jason Ellis may sound like just an ordinary name, but this man was nothing but extraordinary. He was the one to come dressed up to a Christmas party as an elf during the holidays but also the family-loving man who took pride in his work. His wife, Amy Ellis, attended the game at UC, which is actually where their love story began. “It’s a very special place to me…it’s bittersweet without him here, but I’m very appreciative that they’re honoring him. Just keep praying for us.” He was truly what we call an “everyday hero,” and his memory will always be a part of UC.
The Patriot baseball program will now be giving out a yearly award in the memory of Jason Ellis.
Ellis’ #5 jersey was retired in a special ceremony held at Doyle Buhl Stadium in front of numerous former teammates, other Cumberlands baseball players, UC baseball fans, coaches, and his family. A member of the 2011 UC Athletic Hall of Fame class, Ellis will always be known as a Hall of Fame member of life with the positive influence he portrayed on everyone he came across.