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Up for auction

Stroke forces Heisman winner to raise money

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Posted: Thursday December 02, 1999 01:51 PM

HIGHTSTOWN, N.J. (AP) -- Larry Kelley, the former Yale University football star who won the Heisman Trophy in 1936, has placed his cherished award up for auction.

Kelley's is only the second Heisman in history to be offered for sale. O.J. Simpson's is the other.

Kelley, of Hightstown, recently suffered a stroke and wants to raise money for his heirs, who include six nieces and nephews. His wife, Mary Ruth, also is in failing health.

"I'm 84 and I'm not well," Kelley told The Star-Ledger of Newark for today's editions. "I'm relying on my nieces and nephews. They've been good to us, and I want to be good to them."

Officials at the Downtown Athletic Club, which presents the annual award to the year's most outstanding collegiate football player, were saddened by Kelley's decision to sell.

The 1936 Heisman was the second ever awarded. It was the first to bear the name of legendary coach John Heisman. Kelley was an all-America end for Yale that year, when the team finished with a 7-1 record.

"We understand his predicament, but we don't want the trophy being purchased by a complete stranger," club director Rudy Riska said.

Kelley's Heisman was scheduled to be offered today at Leland's auction house in New York. The bidding was to start at $20,000.

Simpson's 1968 trophy sold for $230,000 when placed up for auction in February to help the former Southern California star pay off his wrongful death lawsuit judgment.

Neither the Downtown Athletic Club nor Yale University planned to bid on Kelley's trophy. The auctioneers anticipated heavy interest from sports memorabilia dealers.

Kelley said relinquishing his Heisman could never erase his football memories or his 63 years of sharing the trophy with children and community groups.

"It's about all I have to look back on," he said. "I don't dwell on it that much. I'm more concerned about the present, which does not look good."

Replicas of Kelley's Heisman are displayed at Yale and at the Peddie School, a private high school in Hightstown and Kelley's alma mater. After Kelley's playing days were over, he returned to Peddie as a history teacher and coach and later served as alumni director.


 
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