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Bob Kenney 1935-2015

09/10/2015, 10:00am EDT
By Gary Shears

South Jersey has lost a baseball legend in Bob Kenney. Bob's name was synonymous with baseball in the Philadelphia region for the past several decades. A true gentleman and a true baseball scholar his impact on baseball in general over his lifetime was enormous. Bob's son, Ed Kenney, helped start the NJIBL in 2008. Mr. Kenney was a staple at Riverside Pirates then Giants games and his quick wit and humor were shared with the players on those teams. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Kenney family. In memory of Mr. Kenney, the NJIBL will honor him by placing him on our "Wall of Rememberance" at the New Jersey Diamond Academy in October.

REPOST FROM COURIER POST ONLINE

Born in Riverton in 1935, Mr. Kenney was a lifelong resident of Riverside and graduated from Camden Catholic High School.

He began his career in newspapers writing for the Riverside Press in 1951. After stops at the Burlington County Times and Mount Holly Herald, he landed a job at the Courier-Post in 1963 and spent the next 36 years at the Cherry Hill-based newspaper, including 22 years as sports editor.

His professional career included covering seven Olympic Games, including his first in 1976 at Montreal.

Along with his newspaper work, he was an official scorer for Phillies games from 1964-2008, also writing games stories for the United Press International wire service. He was a lifetime member of the Baseball Writers Association of America and voted for Hall of Fame inductions for more than 40 years.

Mr. Kenney made significant contributions on the coverage of girls’ high school sports.

“He was a pioneer of girls’ sports coverage in South Jersey,” said Celeste Whittaker, who played basketball at Willingboro from 1981-84. “The Courier-Post always had reporters at our games and many of the other papers later followed suit. I owe him a lot, we all do, for what he did for girls’ sports.”

“He is without a doubt the reason why girls’ basketball in South Jersey is on par and equal with boys in both news coverage and fan base,” said Mike Hallahan, director of the South Jersey Invitational Basketball Tournament. “He was the best thing that ever happened in South Jersey for girls’ basketball.”

Mr. Kenney assigned coverage of all girls’ sports and had a particular fondness for field hockey.

“He was a huge field hockey historian,” said Whittaker, who covered the sport for the Courier-Post. “If you needed to know anything about South Jersey field hockey, you called Bob Kenney — he knew it all.”

Mr. Kenney was very generous in giving opportunities to young reporters.

Sitting in the same office as I do now, Mr. Kenney interviewed me for my first job at the Courier-Post. I was 17 years old, with no journalism experience, yet Mr. Kenney hired me to take scores over the phone. One week later, he sent me out to cover my first football game.

Mr. Kenney’s advice was simple: “Don’t mess it up,” although his language was a little more salty than that.

“He was an old-school newspaper guy,” said Mike Radano, who was hired at the Courier-Post in 1988. “He was truly dedicated and cared about South Jersey athletes. He always knew the story was about the kids and coaches and he allowed us as reporters to go out and tell those stories.

“He saw potential in (young reporters) and let us learn by going out and doing the job. He was tough at times, but he was always straightforward with us and always had the backs of his staff.”

After leaving the newspaper business, Mr. Kenney still worked as the official scorer alongside fellow C-Pers Rick Ventura and the late Doug Frambes.

“He was like a second father to me and he was a really good friend,” said Ventura.

Mr. Kenney is survived by his wife of 58 years, Emma. He has six children, 16 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren.

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