By Chris Chaney
The Glen Este High School community gathered on Saturday, April 26 to honor and dedicate a memorial to one of their own.
Jason Ellis, a 1998 graduate of Glen Este High School and star baseball player while a Trojan, was killed in the line of duty on May 25, 2013 as a Bardstown (Ky.) police officer. Nearly a year after his death, Glen Este held a dedication that both retired his No. 9 jersey and unveiled a memorial that stands next to the home dugout.
“Saturday’s ceremony was outstanding,” Glen Este head coach Mike Hatfield said. “Jason’s family, friends and former coaches and teammates here at Glen Este were able to deservedly honor an exceptional baseball player and an even more exceptional man.
“I had the unique privilege of both coaching Jason and playing alongside him as a teammate. He was a tremendous teammate; talented, dedicated and humble. I have plenty of memories of his immense ability — throwing behind runners or hitting game-tying, laster-beam home runs — but ultimately, it was his pure decency and kindness as a human being that will my lasting memory and it was an honor to be a part of this (past) weekend’s ceremony.”
Family, friends, classmates and community members gathered at the Trojans’ baseball field early Saturday ahead of a doubleheader against Madeira that Ellis’ alma mater would split with the Mustangs.
Ellis was a standout while at Glen Este, leading the team in total hits, extra base hits, home runs, runs batted in and slugging percentage. Following his senior season, Ellis was voted the Player of the Year in the Queen City Conference and a First Team All-City selection.
After high school, Ellis went on to play at the Univ. of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg, Ky. where he started all four years as a member of the Patriots. Continuing his exceptional playing career, Ellis established nine school records, all of which still stand today. He holds the record best career batting average (.389), single-season hits (93 in 2002), career hits (246), single-season doubles (30 in 2002), career doubles (60), career home runs (34), career RBI (183), single-season games played (63 in 2002) and career games played (186). Aside from those school accolades, Ellis was a two-time NAIA All-American Honorable Mention (2000 and 2002).
Ellis was enshrined in the Univ. of the Cumberlands Hall of Fame in 2011 and had his No. 5 jersey retired.
The homegrown talent caught the eye of the hometown team after college and the Cincinnati Reds signed Ellis to play in their minor league system. Ellis played one year for the Gulf Coast League Reds in 2003 where he appeared in 21 games, batted .267 and reached base at a .365 clip. The following year, Ellis moved up to the Pioneer League and the Billings Mustangs, also an affiliate of the Reds.
After a season of batting .250, knocking in five runs and hitting one homer, Ellis decided it was time to move on to pursue another career ambition : becoming a police officer.
Ellis became a decorated K-9 officer on the Bardstown police force. Clearing debris from a highway exit ramp on his way home from work, Ellis was ambushed and shot to death. The investigation into his murder is still ongoing.
Ellis is survived by his wife, Amy, and two sons, Hunter and Parker.