Larry Kelley Wins Heisman Trophy Award
Lawrence Morgan "Larry" Kelley (May 30, 1915 – June 27, 2000) was an American football player born in Conneaut, Ohio.
He played end, for Yale University. While at Yale he was a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity and Skull & Bones, and was the second winner of the Heisman Trophy in 1936, the year it was renamed in honor of John Heisman. His jersey number was 19.
Kelley was an All-American end and the captain of the Yale football team. Following his career at Yale, he played for the Boston Shamrocks of the American Football League in 1937. He is a member of the National Football Foundation and the College Football Hall of Fame. Following his career in football, Kelley was a history teacher and alumni director at the Peddie School in Hightstown, New Jersey.
He taught English at Cheshire Academy and spent 12 years in the glove-manufacturing industry.
To benefit of his nieces and nephews, Kelley sold his Heisman Trophy at an auction in December 1999 for $328,110 to the owner of The Stadium Museum, Restaurant & Bar in Garrison, New York, where it now resides. His health was visibly failing by then after having suffered a minor stroke and having open-heart surgery, and on June 27, 2000, Kelley died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound at his home in Hightstown. It was said to be a suicide by the Hightstown police. He was 85 when he died. He was survived by his fourth wife and 18 nieces and nephews.
Larry Kelley, the Yale University end who won the Heisman Trophy in 1936, then found himself back in the public eye six months ago when he sold the statuette at auction for $328,100, died Tuesday at his home in Hightstown, N.J., of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. He was 85.
''It appears to be a suicide,'' said Angelo Onofri, the Mercer County administrative assistant prosecutor. Kelley's body was found by his wife, Mary Ruth. He had been in poor health since suffering a stroke last year. A note was left, but its contents were not divulged.
In the history of the Heisman, awarded by the Downtown Athletic Club in New York to college football's top player, only three schools have produced back-to-back winners of the trophy. Doc Blanchard and Glenn Davis of Army won the award in 1945 and 1946 respectively, and Archie Griffin of Ohio State won it in 1974 and 1975. The school that first had consecutive winners was Yale -- Kelley and then running back Clint Frank.
William Proxmire, the former United States Senator from Wisconsin who played football at Yale in the 1930's, would recall: ''The focus of university attention was not on the best drama school in the country or the relatively small but tremendously impressive law school. To many -- probably most -- Yale meant Kelley and Frank and football.''
Kelley was the first player to win the Heisman Memorial Trophy under that name. The award was first presented in 1935, as the Downtown Athletic Club Trophy, to Jay Berwanger, a University of Chicago running back. When John Heisman, the former player and longtime coach, died in October 1936, the award was named for him.
Kelley's Heisman was sold at auction last December to the owners of a sports bar and restaurant in Garrison, N.Y. ''I wanted to right my affairs and my estate and take care of my 18 nieces and nephews,'' said Kelley, who had suffered a stroke seven months earlier.
LARRY KELLEY (1936 Heisman Winner)
Born in Ohio and raised in Pennsylvania, Kelley came to Yale from the Peddie School and quickly became a star. Playing both offense and defense, as was the custom at the time, Larry Kelley scored at least once in every game against the Bulldogs' traditional rivals, Harvard and Princeton (the only Yale player to do so). His sensational pass-catching accounted for 15 Yale touchdowns, and he was a defensive giant in the years he played at Yale.
Kelley won the Heisman in only the second year of its existence, when it was somewhat less well known. Recalled Kelley, "I got the telegram telling me that I had won it, and I didn't even know there was such a thing."
The rangy 6' 1 1/2" Kelley brought Princeton's victories to an end, in one game catching a pass on the tips of his fingers to defeat the Tigers 7-0.
Kelley was not only captain of the football and baseball teams, but was also elected basketball captain (He declined the honor because of time limitations). Upon graduation from Yale, Kelley was drafted by the Detroit Lions for football and the St. Louis Cardinals for baseball. He was even offered a Hollywood film role to play himself.
However, after Yale, Kelley went into the educational field, teaching and coaching at the Peddie School, then later at Cheshire Academy. Later, he returned again to Peddie as alumni director, where he remained until his retirement in 1975.
Kelley was elected to the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame in 1969.
Larry Kelley passed away on June 27, 2000.