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Bill Kuehne

Third Base
  • Series: Beginnings: 1880's
  • City: Pittsburgh
  • Team: Alleghenys
  • League: National League

William J. Kuehne (1858-1921) came out of the German-American semi-pro clubs of Chicago to begin his career in truly professional baseball with the Columbus Buckeyes of the American Association in 1883. After a month of dreadful play at 2nd base, his manager replaced him. Having a hole at 3rd, he gave Willie one more try. Kuehne found a home at the hot corner. What followed was a ten-year career in MLB in which the otherwise light-hitting but solidly-built (and not known for speed) Kuehne played as though every day was “triple or nothing.” His lifetime .232 average belied a penchant for three-baggers. His record for “most triples in a season without hitting a home run” (19 in 1885) lasted until another Willie--Keeler--tied it in 1897. SABR’s David Nemec has documented several other odd “firsts” set by Kuehne: “lowest slugging average with at least 100 triples,” four straight seasons with more triples than doubles, and most triples (115) in history by a player with fewer than 4500 plate appearances. One in every nine hits went for three.

  • Kuehne also made a name in the field: on May 24, 1889 he set the record, never exceeded, for most errorless chances at third in a nine-inning game--13. And he set a Pittsburgh club mark as the first to play every position save pitcher/catcher
  • Kuehne's pants color on this card was changed in January, 2017 from black to blue to reflect recent reliable research by Craig Brown & friends at Threads of Our Game. Two cards had been previously released featuring black pants.

Auction History

Kick Kelly

  • Series: Beginnings: 1880's
  • City: Louisville
  • Team: Colonels
  • League: American Association

John O. Kelly (1856-1926) was known variously as Kick, Honest John and Diamond John. He was a catcher for the Syracuse Stars and Troy Trojans in 1879 before turning to his real calling of refereeing, first in baseball and later in the boxing ring. As an operator of gambling houses in his native New York City, John “officiated” at another kind of gaming later in life.

Kick’s record at bat was a perfect motive to change uniforms. He averaged .155 in his 16 games in the early major leagues. By 1882 Kelly was umpiring in the National League and moved to the American Association the following season. Men in blue fared poorly in the diamond’s dawn. They were vilified and, too often, pelted by players and fans alike. Working alone gave ample opportunity for wily runners to cheat. Kelly lasted longer than most of his era. He and another “Honest John” (Gaffney) presided over the 1887 post-season match between the NL’s Wolverines and AA’s Browns. They pioneered a two-ump system that would transform the game.

  • Kelly turned briefly to managing with the Louisville Colonels in 1887 and had a successful 76-60 season. His club flagged the following year and Kick was canned
  • Refereeing Jim Corbett’s match in 1894 nearly cost Kelly his life. Baseball wasn’t the only hazardous profession for officials. Well-armed fans intimidated Kelly into a no-call

Auction History

Steve King

image unavailable
  • Series: Pioneer Portraits I: 1850-1874
  • City: Lansingburgh
  • Team: Union of Lansingburgh
  • League: National Association (NABBP)

Stephen F. King (1842-1895) was a lifelong resident of Lansingburgh NY and played for the Troy Haymakers (aka Unions of Lansingburgh) as an amateur and two years (1871-72) as a professional when his team became part of the new National Association. He was an outfielder who played 54 MLB games, driving in 54 runs and batting .353. Why this outstanding player left the game so quickly isn’t known.

  • As part of the upstart 1866 team, embarrassed the powerful NY Mutuals in an exhibition game, foreshadowing the competitiveness that was emerging in baseball following the Civil War

Auction History

Gus Krock

  • Series: Beginnings: 1880's
  • City: Chicago
  • Team: White Stockings
  • League: National League

August H. Krock (1866-1905) first pitched in the majors for Cap Anson’s Chicago White Stockings in 1888. He had a spectacular rookie season going 25-14 with a 2.44 ERA. Typical of his day, Gus finished what he started. He completed all 39 appearances with four shut-outs. Unfortunately, he struggled thereafter, never winning more than three games in a year. He came back with Chicago in ’89, then bounced to the Hoosiers, Senators and Bisons, exiting MLB after the 1890 season. As he helped Anson’s crew to a second-place finish in ’88, Gus had a face-off with a 40-year-old rookie for Washington, John Greenig. It would be a rare day for a rookie to make his big league debut at such an age and the press took note of the May 9 start. The White Stockings dispatched the hapless Greenig with nine quick runs and Krock was complimented for his steady performance, a five-hitter with Dummy Hoy doing the only damage with a homer and single.

  • Before and after his years in the bigs, Gus played for Oshkosh, Milwaukee, and Sioux City in the Northwestern League and Western Association

Auction History

Silver King

  • Series: Beginnings: 1880's
  • City: St. Louis
  • Team: Browns (AA)
  • League: American Association

Charles Frederick Koenig (1863-1927). An excellent pitcher for 7 teams over 10 seasons, King was one of the 1st pitchers to use a sidearm delivery and was especially unique in that he threw without winding up. In his career, King won 203 games, striking out 1,229 batters with a 3.18 ERA. Currently, King ranks 93rd in career WAR for pitchers, higher than 15 HOF pitchers. Silver was pretty good.

  • AA Wins champ: 1888
  • AA ERA Chap: 1888
  • PL ERA Champ: 1890

Auction History