Tri-City Posse Baseball Co-Owner Sean Kelly Passes Away in Pasco
Earlier this month, Sean Charles Kelly passed away from heart failure in his Pasco home at the age of 57.
I'll always remember him for the impact he made on the Columbia Basin's TV and radio sports broadcasting landscapes in the early 1990s.
I'll also treasure the professional and personal relationship I had with him beginning with the Tri-City Americans Hockey Club, but mostly I'll honor him for his passion of following his dreams, like in 1997, when he purchased the sports franchise he had worked for since its inception, the Tri-City Posse Baseball Club.
The Posse, a 1995 inaugural member of the independent Western Baseball League, and a league participant until the year 2000, won the WBL League Championship in 1999 two years after Kelly became a co-owner.
Below is Sean with his 4-year old son celebrating the Posse championship that year.
The Posse prowled the grounds of Tri-City Stadium, before it became Gesa Stadium, in west Pasco.
Kelly and his partner, John Montero, became co-owners of the franchise in 1997, two years after the Posse had brought minor league baseball back to the Tri-Cities for the first time since the Tri-City Triplets had a short lived second run in the area from 1983-1986.
Kelly was born in Molalla, Oregon, outside of Portland, and was an accomplished athlete while growing up, excelling in multiple sports. He finished second in the state at his weight class his senior year at the Oregon high school state wrestling championships. He graduated from Oregon State University and first moved to the Tri-Cities from Wenatchee, where he began his TV broadcasting career, to do sports on KNDU-TV 25 NBC in the early 90's.
Personally, I had just moved to the Tri-Cities in August of 1993, and during my first week on the radio, Sean reached out to me through the request line to hear some AC/DC, and to inquire if I might be interested in the public address announcer's gig for the Tri-City Americans Hockey Club. I played him, "What Do You Do For Money Honey" and got the job. No, it wasn't that simple.
The occupant of the P.A. booth at the time also worked in radio...about 12 paces down the hall from me, so at first, it was a bit awkward around the radio ranch. It did blossom into a job I thoroughly enjoyed over the course of 13 hockey seasons, one I never would have had an opportunity to discover without the confidence Sean Kelly gave me.
Being an Oregon boy I always thought it was odd he faithfully followed all of the Los Angeles pro sports teams, especially the Rams. Sure it bugged him when they bolted to St. Louis in 1995, but winning a Super Bowl championship will salve that wound, and he was extra stoked when the franchise came back to L.A. for the 2016 season.
Win or lose, we'd always touch base when the Rams and Seahawks squared off. I'm going to miss giving him the business after the latest Seattle "W", a big one, as the Seahawks took the NFC West with the win yesterday. He was ecstatic when the Dodgers and Lakers both brought championship trophies back to the City of Angels for the first time in 32 and 10 years, respectively, but his true love was the Rams.
I thought he'd be crushed when the Rams took a dump and could only eke out a lousy field goal in a Super Bowl loss to the Patriots two years ago, but nope, he said it was payback for the referees missing an obvious pass interference call in the NFC Championship Game against the Saints that cost New Orleans a trip to the Big Game, giving his squad a chance to stink up the joint. He was a homer, but he knew his stuff.
Besides being a public figure, Kelly was in Leadership Tri-Cities, a Class IV graduate. He worked for the Tri-City Americans Hockey Club in sales & promotions and was the play-by-play announcer traveling with the team and relaying to me some great stories about the team bus always breaking down on the ridiculously cold Canadian prairie, or even better, being lured into elaborate pranks perpetrated by the Ams 19 and 20-year old players on their unsuspecting 16 and 17-year old teammates. Good times.
He continued his sales career with FOX TV, Connell Oil and for the last 7 years he was with Statewide Publishing (the fat phone book). Yes, in 2020 where everyone and their mother and their mother's brother has a smartphone, he was still knocking it out of the sales park selling a PHONE BOOK.
The dude could sell ice to a Native Alaskan.
Rest in Peace, buddy.
Sean Charles Kelly October 13, 1963 ~ December 9, 2020