Ed “Chicagoan” Kelly

Born in Chicago in 1924 and raised in the area now known as Cabrini-Green, Ed Kelly began his Chicago Park District career as a teacher at a local park and worked his way up to General Superintendent in 1973.  For over a decade Ed Kelly managed the parks and its thousands of employees with the tact and efficiency of another Chicagoan and former softball player – Mayor Richard J. Daley. Before his career with the Chicago Park District, Kelly spent some adventure filled years as a tail gunner with the Marine Corps in the South Pacific during World War II. During his Marine career, Kelly was named to the Al-Service Basketball Team and won the welterweight boxing championship.  He called upon these skills and memories when he managed the Park District by reviving the amateur boxing program, expanding the Junior Bears program, and initiating the citywide softball tournament.  Kelly also installed closed-circuit television security at Grant Park Garage and lobbied for and presided over the renovation of Soldier  Field.  Besides his success as the Chicago Park District superintendent, Ed Kelly also had quite a stellar softball career that included stints with Spalters, O’Boyles, and Kool Vent Awnings where he did battle against many of the Pioneer legends of the game. Kelly was player – manager with Spalters when they twice captured the Windy City championship at North Town Stadium. Spalters also won nine consecutive jackpots at Thillens Stadium. He played on championship teams with St Cyr Knights of Columbus, started and ran the Andy Frain Invitational Softball Tournament for twelve years, and won the Grant Park Tournament of Champions with First National Bank. Ed Kelly even conducted baseball schools under baseball legend, Rogers Hornsby.    Ed Kelly’s dedication to the people of Chicago has not gone unnoticed.  He has been voted Man of the Year by over twenty-five civic and private organizations, including the American Legion, Special Olympics, local Teamster organizations, and many senior groups. Kelly is also the Democratic Committeeman for the “Fighting” 47th Ward and has served as Chairman of the Democratic slate-making committee for thirty years. 16″ softball players thank Ed Kelly for the opportunities he and the Chicago Park District have created over the past decades.