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Thursday, February 24, 2005



DICK KENNEY / 1946-2005


Famous barefoot kicker
in ‘Game of Century’

Dick Kenney, a three-sport star at Iolani and a key figure in one of the most famous college football games ever, died yesterday after a heart attack.

Kenney, a longtime counselor at Pearl City High School and varsity pitching coach at Damien, was 59.

"It's definitely a shock," said Kaipo Kenney, his son. "Nobody really knows exactly what happened yet. He was fine, then he was a little dizzy a couple of days ago."

Damien baseball head coach John Matias, Dick Kenney's longtime friend, said Kenney suffered a heart attack after complaining of chest pains Sunday. He died at St. Francis Hospital yesterday.

Matias said a prayer will be said for Kenney at today's baseball game between Damien and Molokai.

"It's a big loss not just for his friends and family, but for the sports community," Matias said. "He had a way of keeping the kids loose, the players liked him a lot. And a lot of them didn't know anything about his college days."

Kenney gained notoriety as a barefoot kicker at Michigan State when the Spartans won national championships in 1965 and 1966. Kenney also played baseball at Michigan State, and is fourth on the school's career strikeout list behind Ron Perranoski, Dick Radatz and Mickey Spinks.

"I was very proud of him. Back in those days very few local boys played at mainland colleges, and Dick was one of the door-openers," said Bob Apisa, who was Kenney's teammate at Michigan State after being a competitor of his at Farrington in the Interscholastic League of Honolulu. "He'd take that shoe off, snow, rain, 0-degree weather. The fans loved him."

Apisa last saw Kenney in December, when the two attended Michigan State's game against Hawaii at Aloha Stadium.

"He and I gave speeches at the tailgate for the alumni," Apisa said. "He seemed fine, but you could tell he was looking forward to his retirement."

Kenney kicked a field goal in the "Game of the Century" in 1966 between Michigan State and Notre Dame that ended in a 10-10 tie. Newspaper accounts of the game said the Fighting Irish played conservatively at the end, fearing another field goal by Kenney.

After college, Kenney's attempt at a pro football career was halted by bursitis in his foot, Kaipo Kenney said.

He went on to coach baseball, football and other sports at Pearl City and Damien.

"He loved his job as an outreach counselor," Kaipo Kenney said. "He was one of those people who gave everything he had. He'd give you his last penny if you needed it."

Dick Kenney is also survived by his wife, Nani, sons Kelii and Marchael, daughter Denine, and mother Eleanor.

Arrangements are pending.



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