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Mike Kelly

  • Series: Pioneer Portraits II: 1875-1899
  • City: Boston
  • Team: Beaneaters
  • League: National League
  • Hall: National Baseball Hall of Fame

Michael Kelly (1857-1894) was one of the great stars of the 1880s. He inspired America’s first pop record (“Slide, Kelly, Slide!”) in 1889 with a 1927 movie to follow. The “Chicago Slide” was copied by his White Stockings teammates, a “combination slide, twist and dodge” that allowed the team to “get away with hundreds of stolen bases when really they should have been touched out easily” per the Tribune’s Hugh Fullerton in 1906. A catcher, right-fielder and manager over 16 years, he popularized the hit & run.

  • A pioneer athlete in vaudeville, $10,000 Kelly also popularized autograph signing
  • First major leaguer to publish his autobiography (1888)
  • Elected to Hall of Fame: 1945

Auction History

Joe Kelley

  • Series: Pioneer Portraits II: 1875-1899
  • City: Baltimore
  • Team: Orioles
  • League: National League
  • Hall: National Baseball Hall of Fame

Joseph James Kelley (1871-1943) was an outfielder for the Baltimore Orioles from 1893-98 and was one of the most productive hitters of the decade. Kelley had a knack for getting on base by hit or walk. He was among the league leaders in these categories as the Orioles won three straight pennants, then finished second his last two years in Baltimore. He helped the floundering Brooklyn Superbas (last in ‘98) to consecutive titles in 1899-1900. Joe’s defensive work was stunning. Playing in fast company for Baltimore (alongside John McGraw, Willie Keeler and Hughie Jennings), was such a stand-out he was dubbed “Kingpin of the Orioles.” In an outstanding 17-year MLB career, Joe hit .317 including eleven straight .300+ seasons. Always a leader, when his output began to decline, Kelley never had trouble finding teams who wanted him in the lineup and as a manager. The veteran maneuvered skillfully through the politics and intrigue that accompanied the founding of the American League. He even accepted the highest minor-league salary to-date to play for the International League’s Toronto Maple Leafs in ‘02 before returning to the NL.

  • Kelley stayed in pro-ball through 1926 as a manager, scout and coach
  • Elected to Hall of Fame: 1971

Auction History

Willie Keeler

  • Series: Pioneer Portraits II: 1875-1899
  • City: New York
  • Team: Giants
  • League: National League
  • Hall: National Baseball Hall of Fame

William Henry Keeler (1872-1923) retired in 1910 trailing only Cap Anson in career hits with 2932. He still stands 14th in all of ML baseball in that category. Keeler’s proficiency with the bunt led baseball to change the rules, making a two-strike foul an out. In 13 of his 19 seasons, little William (5’4”) hit over .300 with a BA of .341.

  • Ned Hanlon brought Keeler to his Orioles in 1894, building one of the most formidable teams ever. Keeler was one of seven future Hall of Famers on Baltimore’s squad
  • No less an authority than John McGraw said “Keeler had the best batting eye I have ever seen.”
  • Elected to Hall of Fame: 1939

Auction History