Mike "King" Kelly
He played for the Chicago White Stockings, as an outfielder. Mike Kelly was like the "Babe" Ruth of his era. When King was a teenager he played for the Paterson, New Jersey, Keystones, where as he was already the fastest runner, hardest thrower and could hit the hardest out of the twelve other men on the ball club.
In 1879, Anson signed Kelly, after noticing that he single handedly beat the country's top barnstormers, the Hop Bitters of Rochester.
In the big leagues, Kelly was a very graceful hitter, winning the NL batting championship twice, and even more of a base stealer, once he stole 6 basses in a single game. His 84 stolen basses in a single season encouraged the popular song entitled; "Slide Kelly, Slide."
"Mike was the trickiest player to ever handle a Baseball," there was nothing he would not attempt...Baseball rules were never made for Kel." wrote the New York Evening Journal.
Mike tricked quite a few players and officials with his sly tactics. One such example
demonstrates his great acting ability. It was a night game and the opponent at the plate
hit the ball high, but in Kelly's direction. He raced back made a leaped into the air to
pull it from the sky, he landed and then ran in towards the bench, as the umpire called
the batter out. Once in the locker room, Mike's manager, Cap Anson asked him for the ball,
Kelley's responce was this; "The ball? It went a mile over my head." He also
took advantage of the single umpire and purposly missed touching second base to
sneak from first to thrid easily.
Eventually, Mike changed positions from the outfield to behind the plate. One of his most trickiest moves while catching was to place his mask on homeplate to confuse the runner., An even trickier play was to secretly signal to the right fielder to move in then he would make a "wild" throw to him, (over the first baseman's head,) the runner would automatically try to advance to second, on the "error" not realizing that the ball would be caught and thrown to second base for an easy out.
Although Mike Kelley was an excellent ball player, he certainly was no Lou Gehirg, concerning his private life. He drank do often that when hw was asked if he drank during a gmae, he said that it, "depends on the length of the game." He even dealyed a game, while toasting a few gentlemen in box seats. Anson decided to put a detective on Mike and then acused him of being at a saloon at the 3 a.m. the morning, drinking lemonade before a game. Kelley commented on the matter be saying that "Itwas stright whiske, I never drank a lemonade at that hour in my life." Kelley roamed the streets twirling a cane, wore Italisn leather shoes, and there were rumors of him being involved in scandels with women.
In the winter of 1886 Kelly was traded to Boston for a then unheard of amount of 10,000 dollars. Kelly was the richest man in Baseball at the time. He was also the first player to gain a profit off the field, he got $3,000 for the "use of his picture." He also esrned money during the off season, telling stories and reciting "Casey at the Bat" to audiences.
However, without Cap Anson's restricting hand, Mike drank more and in return gained weight and his correct judgement of fly balls declined. He also fought with the press for critisizing him on his mistakes. He was not the same ballplayer as before, but he was still as sly. Once, he was sitting on the bench and a high pop up was heading toward the dugout, not able to the gotten by the catcher. Kelly quickly stood up and announced; "Kelly catching for Boston," and then he caught the ball for an out, (in those days, the rules said that you could just announce a substitution.)
Mike "King" Kelley is possibly the most recognized name of his time.