The pool world has lost another legend – BCA & One Pocket Hall of Famer, Ed Kelly. He was 80 years old.
Reported on Facebook by Mary Kennistion (Ed Kelly – Mid ’80s publicity photo Courtesy of Mary Kenniston)
Inducted into the BCA Hall of Fame in ’03 & into the One Pocket Hall of Fame in ’05, Kelly was known for his expertise in all games & his acerbic wit. “Champagne Eddie” stood tall among his peers – no one liked to walk up to a tournament chart & see that Kelly was their next match.
Starting with his runner-up finish to Luther Lassiter in the ’63 Johnson City All-Round, he followed up with the ’65 World 9 ball & the ’67 World 9 Ball & One Pocket titles. In ’69, he was crowned the L.A. Open World Pocket Billiard (14.1) Champion & in ’71, he again won the One Pocket title and the elusive All-Around World Championship title at Johnston City.
I didn’t know him until I moved to Las Vegas & opened my pool room,Cue-Topia. By this time, he was pretty much retired from competive pool & was dealing blackjack at the old Las Vegas Hilton. He’d stop by every day, grab a cup of coffee & hold court until it was time to head to work.
It was always a treat to hear him tell about his road days with Eddie Taylor, Ronnie Allen, Billy Incardona, Richie Florence & so many others.
When Grady Matthews announced his one pocket event in Reno, we all tried to get Kelly to enter. He resisted but we insisted. Finally, he gave in & dusted off his cue a few days before the tournament was to begin.
Working his way through the field, he found himself in the finals with Billy Burge – the legendary Cornbread Red. It went down to the case ball in the case game & Eddie took it down. What a bookend to an illustrious forty year career – another legend from a by-gone area…
Please join me with condolences to all his many friends & family. RIP, Kel, RIP…
Photos below are courtesy of OnePocket.org, Mary Kenniston & Robert Ross.