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Former Yankee, Vols set for Katrina relief event

Standing outside the Farragut High School football stadium just before sunset the other day, it was tempting to complain about muggy conditions.

All you had to do was look at the perspiration on someone's dress shirt to tell it was hot.

"I'll be glad when football weather finally gets here," an Admirals fan said.

A couple of strangers exchanged a glance and realized something very humbling: The humidity in East Tennessee pales in comparison to the devastation in the Gulf Coast region. An entire city has drowned. Hundreds of lives have been lost. Families have been separated, without knowing if relatives or beloved pets were alive. Homes have been destroyed. Businesses have gone belly up.

Perhaps we are spoiled by one of the best parts of the country.

"We're really very lucky," someone finally said.

Indeed, we are.

While there isn't much that can be done about the weather, there's a chance to do more than complain about it.

The inaugural Volunteers for Hurricane Relief has been scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 2, from 2 to 5 p.m. at West Town Mall. Former major leaguers Graig Nettles, Tim Foli and Ed Bailey will participate in an autograph session along with Garth Iorg and Eli Iorg, heavyweight boxer Alonzo "Big Zo" Butler and former University of Tennessee standouts Dewey Warren, Bobby Scott, Sterling "The Pearl" Henton, Tim Irwin, Ron McCartney, Fuad Reveiz and ex-New York Jets punter Chuck Ramsey, among others.

Anyone who would like to participate can contact event organizer Jimmy Seay at 865-539-0455. The stand-by list includes Crossville golf pro Kip Henley, the winner of the Golf Channel's Big Break II, who is hoping his travel schedule will permit.

Phil Speeks will provide musical entertainment.

The sports celebrities are being asked to sign autographs during segments of 30 minutes to an hour.

"We are trying to have as many people as possible available to sign," Seay said. "The way I look at it, the more the merrier."

Nettles, perhaps best known as a New York Yankees third baseman who thrived in postseason situations, has agreed to sign items from 2 p.m. until 3:30 p.m.

The cost will be $50 and the American Red Cross will receive all profits.

Tennessee's baseball team changed practice times to participate in the event and all 28 players and three coaches will participate in the event, coach Rod Delmonico said. There will not be a charge to get autographs from any current UT players.

"President Bush has asked everyone to donate whatever they can -- whether it's your time, money or both," Henton said. "I'm in, baby, count me in."

"Your heart goes out to people who have lost everything," McCartney said. "Something like this is what the true Volunteer spirit is all about."

Hurricane Katrina contributed to at least 800 deaths and caused more than $200 billion in damages. Although Hurricane Rita wasn't nearly as deadly or costly, the cleanup near the Texas and Louisiana border will continue for months. Even more shelters could be needed for displaced families.

"I would like to think that people from other states would help us if something like this happened here," Scott said. "I'll sign whatever anybody wants me to sign."

Fans can bring items to be autographed. Baseballs, mini-helmets and a limited number of photographs also will be available.

Award-winning columnist and sports reporter Chuck Cavalaris writes a bi-monthly column for farragutpress. Send questions or comments to He also can be reached at 865-769-9295.


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