Former players, coaches and parents remember Rick Kelley’s little league legacy

BOWLING GREEN, Ky.-Bowling Green East Little League has lost an icon. Rick Kelley served the community for over four decades, the team making it to the little league world series three times in the last eight years. 

Former players, parents and coaches remember the impact Kelley left on the sport. 

“There’s one constant always with BG little league and that was Rick Kelley.”

Rick Kelley served the Bowling Green little league community for over 42 years. 

“I think we’ve lost a true icon, from the baseball side of it I really do. I don’t think people in your community can fathom how big he was in that community, I think we took it for granted,” said former MLB player Paul Kilgus. 

He coached generations of families. Kilgus coached with Kelley in his adult years, but had actually met him decades earlier as a young boy. 

“I was 10 playing for the cubs and Rick Kelley 16-17 years old was an umpire. I can remember sliding into home plate and Rick called me out, I was safe and I never let him forget about it,” said Kilgus. 

Matt Myers, now the coach of Lipscomb baseball, coached with Kelley when his son, Carson, played on the team. Carson’s team made it to a Little League World Series under Rick, and he now plays college baseball. 

“When you get to be a part of it and it builds and now you get to hold on to three Little League World Series, now there’s a standard set over there, every kid who comes into the little league wants to be on that team and we get to be a part of it with him,” said Myers. 

16-year-old Grayson Newman saw his older brother make it to the 2016 World Series on the team coached by Kelley. He followed in his footsteps, playing on Kelley’s team and making it to the 2019 World Series. 

“How he impacted people to play the game of baseball and the great coach he was to so many little kids. Especially at age 12, you don’t see that good of a coach most times,” said Newman. 

Jef Goodnight also coached with Kelley. Jef tragically lost his son Mason Goodnight when he was just 11 years old….his death rocking the Little League community. Mason had dreamed of playing for Kelley one day. 

“He’s like yeah there’s Coach Kelley, he’s watching me play. I’m like, “Yes, I know,” said Jef Goodnight. 

Jef think’s Mason’s dream has finally come true. 

“I think Rick and Mason are playing the greatest little league game ever right now up there. I think they’re having the greatest game ever right now. I would love to see the look on Mason’s face when he came in. Cuz he would say hey there’s Coach Kelley,” said Jef.