Cancer claims former Elks football/baseball standout Jeff Kennard

Jeff “J.D.” Kennard, a Centerville High School hall of famer in both football and baseball and who played 13 seasons of professional baseball, died of cancer complications on Thursday. He was 37.

His death was announced on Facebook by his wife, Kate .

Kennard was a gifted receiver in an era of run-heavy Centerville football and was named among the Elks’ all-time best in a Dayton Daily News series of area high school football teams in 2017.

He still owns Elks’ career records for receiving yards (1,978) and touchdowns (24) from 1997-99. His single-game yardage mark of 182 as a junior in 1998 was surpassed last season by Corey Burnette (284).

Among his former Elks teammates were A.J. Hawk, Mike Nugent and current Elks coach Brent Ullery.

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But it was baseball that would define Kennard’s future.

A 6-foot-2, 220-pound pitcher, Kennard was drafted by the New York Yankees in the 40th round of the June 2000 MLB amateur draft after graduation from high school. He attended Rend Lake College (Ill.) and signed with the Yankees in 2001.

Switched to a reliever, he played nine seasons for MLB affiliates. He was 3-1 for Cincinnati Reds affiliate and Class AAA Louisville Bats in 2009.

According to his biography, Kennard was an All-Star at the single A, AA and AAA levels. Added to the Yankees’ 40-man roster in 2008, he was then traded to the California Angels for catcher Jose Molina.

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Most recently Kennard was owner and operator of Pauer Sports in Centerville, a personal training facility with a specialty in youth pitching.

Kennard is survived by his wife, Kate Kennard, and two children. Visitation is from 4-8 p.m. Monday at Tobias Funeral Home, Far Hills Chapel, Dayton. A service will be held at 1 p.m. Tuesday at Tobias.

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