Legendary athlete Jerry Kenney has street named after him in Beloit

Legendary athlete Jerry Kenney has street named after him in Beloit Main Photo

23 Jun 2024

Jerry Kenney said he was having trouble Friday describing exactly what his hometown naming a street after him meant to him.

But he seemed to do just fine.

“I can’t forget this and after I pass, it will still be up there,” Kenney said, pointing to the sign Jerry Kenney Avenue, a renamed portion of Shirland Avenue running adjacent to ABC Supply Stadium. “People are going to ask, who was Jerry Kenney? I want to be remembered as someone who worked in the community and always tried to help people. I feel happy about that.”


Cheryl Caldwell, a former next-door neighbor of Kenney’s and the wife of former NFL head coach and fellow Beloiter Jim Caldwell, spearheaded the campaign to have the street named after him. She contacted Beloit City Council President Kevin Leavy and was thrilled when the Council unanimously approved the resolution to honor one of Beloit’s best-ever athletes.

She and her husband spoke at the ceremony attended by many family, friends and community supporters.

“This honor is personal to me,” Cheryl Caldwell said. “I have known Jerry practically my entire life. We were more like family than neighbors. Our mothers were long-time friends and it wasn’t uncommon for Jerry to be sitting on our back patio or in the living room talking to my dad.

“Here in Beloit we have Barkin Arena named after legendary basketball coach Bernie Barkin and Pohlman Field named after legendary baseball coach Harry Pohlman.”

“Beloit now has an honorary street named after one of the finest people you’ll ever meet and one of the greatest athletes to ever come out of this city: Jerry Kenny Avenue.”

Jim Caldwell said it was a fitting location, too.

“This dedication is significant because if you enter Wisconsin from Illinois the first name you are going to see is Jerry Kenny,” Caldwell said. “He has been an absolutely great ambassador for our city.”

The Kenney legacy is special because not only does it include a tremendous athletic career that started with three-sport stardom at Beloit Memorial High School and culminated with six seasons in the Major Leagues, it also includes a homecoming and a long contribution of community service.

“The resolution my wife initiated and thankfully was pushed through covers Jerry’s remarkable athletic accomplishments, but only scratches the surface in terms of him as a man, his character, integrity and humility,” Jim Caldwell said. “He’s a quality person and he chose to return to Beloit and support the community and contribute to it.”

After playing with the New York Yankees and Cleveland Indians from 1967-73, Kenney worked in the recording industry in New York for a while, but returned to Beloit in the 1980s. He was drawn into coaching and led the same Beloit American Legion baseball program he’d starred for in the 1960s.

“Jerry Kenney is synonymous with Beloit baseball history,” Beloit Sky Carp President Zach Brockman said. The team presented him with a Sky Carp jersey with his familiar #2.

Kenney has also served on various community committees designed to improve life in Beloit.

“I learned through playing that you had to have cooperation,” he said. “You have to earn respect by working hard and doing the right things. The old saying is that if you treat people right 90 percent of the time they will come back and treat you right, too. That has always been my motto.”

On Friday, the city treated Kenney exactly the way he deserves.

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