Hornell Sports Night returns Nov. 5 with Cornelius Bennett, Wade Boggs. What to know

Hornell Sports Night returns Nov. 5 with Cornelius Bennett, Wade Boggs. What to know

Buffalo Bills great Cornelius Bennett was set to appear at the 47th Hornell Sports Night in the spring of 2020 when COVID-19 shut down most public gatherings.

The annual banquet, which brings some of the biggest names in the sports world to Hornell while supporting youth organizations in the Canisteo Valley, went by the wayside, even though much of the fundraising had already taken place.

Then, with many of those pandemic restrictions still in place, the event was scrapped last year as well.

But now it's game on. Hornell Sports Night returns next month for the first time since 2019 and the linebacker affectionately known as "Biscuit" is finally headed to the Maple City, along with Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Wade Boggs.

Tickets, priced at $65, go on sale Oct. 1 at Wegmans in Hornell. Tickets are limited to 375 guests and sales will stop on Oct. 30.

The Sports Night organizing committee knew it wanted the banquet to return in 2022 so it waited for The Main Place to get the all-clear to hold a large event again, according to Mike Brewer, a committee member.

"We had about half of our fundraising done before COVID-19 hit (in 2020) so we still had all these people's money. It's not like we are just going to sit there and do nothing with it. It was good timing and we said, 'Let's go for the fall.'"

Brewer said it was natural to re-invite Bennett, a three-time first-team All-American at Alabama and the second overall selection in the 1987 NFL draft.

"He kind of picked our date," Brewer said. "We said, 'Let's get hold of Cornelius and see if he will do the event for us again.' So we gave him five dates that were available at The Main Place and he picked Nov. 5. So we said, 'Alright. If he can make it, we will make this a go.'"

Bennett spent nine years in Buffalo and was an instrumental part of four Buffalo Super Bowl teams. He was named a first-team All-Pro three times, was a five-time Pro Bowl selection and a two-time AFC defensive player of the year.

Brewer said bringing Boggs to Hornell is a major coup for Sports Night.

"He was ranked at one time, and he probably still is, one of the top 100 baseball players of all time. We thought that was pretty impressive."

Boggs played 18 seasons in Major League Baseball, primarily with the Boston Red Sox. He also played for the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. He won the 1996 World Series with the Yankees over the Atlanta Braves.

Inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2005, Boggs ended his major league career with 3,010 hits, a .328 batting average and a .415 on-base percentage. In his 2,432 career games, Boggs reached base safely in 85 percent of them.

Boggs played in Boston for 11 seasons (1982-92), winning five batting titles, finishing second once and third twice.

"This is like a new beginning," he said. "It's so good to be back and the main reason we are doing it is for the businesses who tried to sponsor the event before it had to be canceled.

"We are going to continue to sponsor (youth) events, help out the Little League and Babe Ruth. Whoever comes to us, we will be glad to help them out."

In the past, Sports Night has packed The Main Place as excellence in athletics is honored and community service is celebrated. Brewer said there is a commitment to continuing Sports Night in future years.

The move to fall for what had traditionally been a spring event may even be permanent, but it's too soon to say.

"We have no idea what we are going to do for next year," Brewer said. "More than likely we can't do it in the spring. It's too soon. So who knows? Maybe it will be a fall event (in future years). We will see."

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