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Mike 'King' Kelly

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  • Mike 'King' Kelly

    It's time that the great Mike 'King' Kelly had his own thread.
    Last edited by Bill Burgess; 09-26-2008, 08:37 PM.

  • #2
    Relative Stats:

    -------Relative BA----Rel.Onbase----Rel.Slg---------OPS+------Plate Appearances
    --------1.18.5 (33rd)-------1.16--------1.21-------138 (t 83rd)-----------6,455

    Michael 'King' Kelly, C/OF, 1887-92---Albright's musings post---BB Library bio---BB Reference

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Chicago C, 1880-86

    Attached Files
    Last edited by Bill Burgess; 10-25-2009, 01:37 PM.


    • #3
      Relative ISO: Some Pre-1920 hitters:

      Gavvy Cravath 217
      Harry Stovey 189
      Joe Jackson 187
      Sam Crawford 183
      Dan Brouthers 178
      Sam Thompson 174
      Roger Connor 172
      Honus Wagner 167
      Ed Delahanty 166
      Tris Speaker 163
      Frank Baker 162
      Ty Cobb 159
      Nap Lajoie 159
      Buck Ewing 154
      Ross Barnes 150
      Pete Browning 141
      Mike 'King' Kelly 138
      Jimmy Ryan 138
      Ned Williamson 135
      Bill Lange 126
      Cap Anson 121
      George Gore 114
      Jesse Burkett 114
      Herman Long 109
      Eddie Collins 103
      Hughie Jennings 101
      Billy Hamilton 0.89
      Willie Keeler 0.84
      John McGraw 0.77


      • #4
        In browsing Proquest, doing research, I stumbled across this article by Ted Sullivan, from 1912. I thought it was interesting enough to post. Enjoy!

        TED SULLIVAN SPEAKS OUT FOR OLD-TIMERS---(Anaconda Standard, Anaconda, Montana, Sunday, January 14, 1912, pp. 24.)

        Chicago, Jan. 13.—Winter always brings on gossip of both magnates and players. There must be something left over from the menu of the summer baseball table to appease the baseball appetite of the ravenous fans. The latest fad is picking out the greatest ball players of the game-both past and present. Comparisons are always odious, but they are 10 times more so in the national game. Among the million of fans—every one of them has his idea what player of the entire list of the great army of baseball experts should be numbered among the immortal 20. Before I would pay attention to any of those selectors of the immortal 20, writes Ted Sullivan, he would have to be a man who has been a follower of the game—more than 25 years—and he would have to be a man also who handled players and developed them. The player of the great 20 should be, in my estimation, a man who always took the initiative in crises of a game to win for his side, without a guide being sent around with him to show him the route.

        In a neck game this brand of player—no matter what team he is on—will rise to the situation and do something to win for his team. Men that were of such caliber of the past were George Wright, Mike Kelly, Curt Welch, Comiskey, Latham and John Ward and the men of modern years. Hugh Jennings, Keeler, McGraw and Jack Doyle of the old Baltimores and the men of today like Cobb, Evers, Callahan, Tinker and Chance and others of like genius.

        Remember, I am not picking out any 20 great ball players, I am only pointing out the class of men who had the perception of the past and who have the perception of today—and possess the dash and impetuosity that enables them to go through the gate of victory at any time the opposition lets it ajar in their defense.

        Ty Best—Only Now
        In the past year I have seen where some magnates and laymen of the game assert that Ty Cobb was the greatest ball player in the entire history of the game. I make an allowance for the magnates to say so, but I do know that one or two of them who said so know better; but I think their opinions were slightly governed by the declaration that the ball player living draws better at their parks than any one that is dead. I want the public to understand that I do not want to take one gem from Cobb's baseball crown, nor do I want to take an ounce off the scale of his great baseball skill to lesson his ability in the eyes of the baseball public.

        As Cobb stands today he is the best run getter of the entire baseball fraternity, and he is the stimulant and flavor of any ball team he plays on. What I mean by run-getter, is a man who can execute on the bases what he conceives, and that player that can get around those bases in making the run after he once gets to first, no matter how he got there, is the player that will always be a winner for a ball club. Cobb stands alone in that respect. Base running has ever been the spectacular part of a man's ball playing, and the player who excels in that, with all other things equal, will be always popular. I stand second to none in saying that Cobb today is the best batter and base runner in the game. He has also the get away dash and magnetism of the winner, but I will stop right here and say no more. For me to say that this player was the general and versatile ball player of the type, or any way near the counterpart in general baseball ability, of Ned Williamson, Buck Ewing and Mike Kelly, would indicate that I had an eclipse of my sight when I saw those three men in action in the zenith of their fame.

        The Stalwart Three
        I did not get my impression of those men by reading a story in the Ledger, but I got my impression of those stalwarts of the game when I was manager of them; in both the American Association and the National league. I saw Williamson on the threshold of his greatness, when he came from the Indianapolis club to Chicago in 1879 and I also saw the great Kelly when he came from Cincinnati to Chicago in the same year. Just think of a player like Williamson, a man symmetrically built, about 6 feet tall, with ability of good kind, that could play third base, catch and pitch, and one of the greatest base runners of his time. William (Buck) Ewing was one of the best, if not the best, general ball players and catchers of all times—who possessed all the attributes of a ball player. Ewing could play infield, and play it well, and excelled in every essential of the game. He began as third baseman of the Troy club of the National league.

        Now we come to the immortal Mike Kelly, the acknowledged Napoleon of all baseball strategists, a player who could catch (and a brainy one at that) and could play also the in and out field—a man whose head was a casket of baseball gems and whose magnetism in his style of playing made many a man make an error that he otherwise would not. Kelly, cold, mechanical player—and to think, with all his dash and vim in sliding into bases, he never spiked or injured a fellow player. No! There was but one Mike Kelly in baseball, one Napoleon in military science, one John L. Sullivan in pugilism, one Shakespeare in dramatic literature, one Angelo in sculpture and one Rembrandt in painting.

        To compare Outfielder Cobb to any of these three men, especially Kelly, would be making a sculptor the equal of a stone cutter; then, again, it is hard lo compare an outfielder with an infielder in the line of fielding duties they are called upon. The positions are entirely different. An outfielder may not average two or three chances to a game and the chances may only come in intervals of 10 or 25 minutes, while an infielder is in perpetual action when he once takes the field, and the plays are always coming up in a complicated form, and unless he is a quick-witted fellow he will be lost in a baseball fog. To try to bring any ball player of today up to the standard of Ned Williamson, Buck Ewing and Mike Kelly in general versatility and mechanical skill would be like making the press-made dress-suit actors of today the equals of Booth, Barrett and John McCullough. This last comparison may be a bad simile, but I'll stand for it just the same. (Anaconda Standard, Anaconda, Montana, Sunday, January 14, 1912, pp. 24.)
        Last edited by Bill Burgess; 05-26-2011, 12:43 PM.


        • #5
          --------------------------------------------Ty Cobb Leads Again, Of Course, by Al Spink ---(Reno Evening Gazette, Tuesday, May 4, 1920, pp. 5.)

          Tyrus Cobb, the "Georgia Peach," is like Tennyson's brook. He seems to go on forever.

          In Chicago the other day at the opening of the American league season, he played with the same speed and vim that he displayed years ago when Charley Comiskey declared him to be the greatest living ball player.

          The individual batting records of 1919 show that the hitting was considerable heavier than in 1918, thus showing steady progress in the offensive side of the game. The number of .300 batsmen was twenty-seven in 1919, as against thirteen in 1918, nineteen in 1917, eleven in 1916, thirteen In 1915, twelve in 1914, sixteen in 1913, thirty in 1912, thirteen in 1910, nine in 1909, seven in 1908 and nine in 1907.

          The titular leader was Eddie Murphy of Chicago, but he played in only thirty games and was at bat only thirty-five times, mostly as a pinch hitter, and made seventeen hits, for an average of .480.

          But the actual leader was once more the inimitable Ty Cobb, who made 191 hits in 124 games for the splendid average of .384, the great Detroit star thus leading the league twelve years out of thirteen seasons, his only slip-up being in 1916, when he lost the batting crown temporarily to Tris Speaker, a record unequaled in major league history.

          Cobb last year and for many years has proven himself the greatest player in the American League, but I call to mind other players who in the olden time were just as great stars, just as good drawing cards and just as useful to their teams as the now famous Georgian.

          I call to mind two players especially of the olden time who in value to their teams were just as great as Cobb and who really compared with him in all directions.

          I refer to Harry Stovey, manager captain and left-fielder of the Athletics of Philadelphia thirty years ago, and Mike Kelly, the right-fielder and change catcher of the old Chicago White Stockings.

          Next to Stovey, Mike Kelly was the greatest slider I ever saw. Considering his limitations, he was also without a peer as a base runner.

          Kelly was a tall chap. But with all his height he was a slow runner and I suppose he could not have made 100 yards in sixteen seconds. His great secret, first was his slide. He had the knack of throwing his body away from the fielder and from the base down so fine that with a fielder waiting for him with a ball he could throw himself out of the way and make the bag.

          That alone would not have enabled him to be the great base runner that he was had it not been for his ability to get a splendid start. He seemed to have an intuition which told him when to go, and thus he could make a better record than many runners who were a deal faster than he.

          And then talk about your catchers. A gamer man never went behind the bat than Kelly. He would often go in in no condition to play and still make good.

          But Kelly, with all his magnificent reputation, had Cobb backed off the boards when it came to good nature. He could keep the umpire and both clubs in a roar by his witticisms and he kept up a fire of small talk from the beginning of tho game to the end. It was all in good part, too.

          There was nothing biting in what he said. He had a heart as big as an ox. Many a man will vouch for what I say. Kelly could not pass a mendicant and keep his hands in his pockets, and it can be truly said of him, he would share his last dollar with anyone who approached him and who was in need.

          The crowd loved Kelly for his skill as a player, for his wit and for his worth as a man, and wherever he played they went to see him in droves.
          (Reno Evening Gazette, Tuesday, May 4, 1920, pp. 5.)

          [Al Spink maintained that Mike 'King' Kelly was the greatest all-around player that baseball ever produced until 1921, when he finally switched over to Cobb. Al died in 1928, during Ty's last season.]

          Al died May 27, 1928.
          Last edited by Bill Burgess; 05-26-2011, 12:46 PM.


          • #6
            Does anyone think Kelly was considered the best player ever between his retirement and Nap Lajoie?
            "No matter how great you were once upon a time — the years go by, and men forget,” - W. A. Phelon in Baseball Magazine in 1915. “Ross Barnes, forty years ago, was as great as Cobb or Wagner ever dared to be. Had scores been kept then as now, he would have seemed incomparably marvelous.”


            • #7
              Kelly hit the first walk-off HR in a 4-3 win on opening day, May 1, 1880 at the home of his former team the Cincinnati Red Stockings. It was his only home run of the season.
              *Prior to 1880 the bottom of the 9th had to be completed even if the winning run scored.
              "No matter how great you were once upon a time — the years go by, and men forget,” - W. A. Phelon in Baseball Magazine in 1915. “Ross Barnes, forty years ago, was as great as Cobb or Wagner ever dared to be. Had scores been kept then as now, he would have seemed incomparably marvelous.”


              • #8
                Originally posted by bluesky5 View Post
                Does anyone think Kelly was considered the best player ever between his retirement and Nap Lajoie?
                Just as a guess Anson may have surpassed him at some point. While Big Ed Delahanty was probably not considered the greatest player ever, methinks by the mid 1890s on he was the top hitter or slugger.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by PVNICK View Post
                  Just as a guess Anson may have surpassed him at some point. While Big Ed Delahanty was probably not considered the greatest player ever, methinks by the mid 1890s on he was the top hitter or slugger.
                  Yea, seems like 'the greatest' title changed quick until Cobb and Ruth came along.
                  "No matter how great you were once upon a time — the years go by, and men forget,” - W. A. Phelon in Baseball Magazine in 1915. “Ross Barnes, forty years ago, was as great as Cobb or Wagner ever dared to be. Had scores been kept then as now, he would have seemed incomparably marvelous.”


                  • #10
                    image.jpgSorry sideways. I've been to his grave in Mattapan.
                    Last edited by baltimorechop; 06-30-2014, 07:13 PM.


                    • #11
                      The Fuzzy Bear Memorial Keltner List: King Kelly...

                      1. Was he ever regarded as the best player in baseball? Did anybody, while he was active, ever suggest that he was the best player in baseball?


                      2. Was he the best player on his team?

                      Yes, according to BB-Ref. WAR he was the best overall player on the 1879 Reds, 1886 White Stockings and the 1891 Cincinnati Kelly's Killers.

                      3. Was he the best player in baseball at his position? Was he the best player in the league at his position?

                      Yes, according to he was the best right fielder in baseball in '81, '82, '84 & '85 and the best catcher in '86.

                      4. Did he have an impact on a number of pennant races?

                      Yes, '80-83, '85 & '86 with the White Stockings, '89 & '91 with Boston (N.L.) and 1890 with Boston in the P.L.

                      5. Was he a good enough player that he could continue to play regularly after passing his prime?

                      No, he drank himself to death by the end of the 1893 season.

                      6. Is he the very best player in baseball history who is not in the Hall of Fame?


                      7. Are most players who have comparable career statistics in the Hall of Fame?

                      1. Buck Ewing (867.7) *
                      2. Hardy Richardson (867.7)
                      3. Home Run Baker (860.5) *
                      4. Larry Doyle (853.2)
                      5. Cupid Childs (846.3)
                      6. Arky Vaughan (843.2) *
                      7. Deacon White (840.1) *
                      8. Ed McKean (839.6)
                      9. Buddy Myer (838.8)
                      10. Dustin Pedroia (837.8)
                      8. Do the numbers meet Hall of Fame standards?

                      Giving him 3/7 because short seasons hurt the final 3 categories bad..
                      Black Ink
                      Batting - 23 (90), Average HOFer ≈ 27
                      Gray Ink
                      Batting - 221 (33), Average HOFer ≈ 144
                      Hall of Fame Monitor
                      Batting - 64 (322), Likely HOFer ≈ 100
                      Hall of Fame Standards
                      Batting - 45 (118), Average HOFer ≈ 50
                      Right Field (43rd):
                      44.2 career WAR / 31.1 7yr-peak WAR / 37.7 JAWS
                      Average HOF RF (out of 25):
                      72.7 career WAR / 42.9 7yr-peak WAR / 57.8 JAWS
                      9. Is there any evidence to suggest that the player was significantly better or worse than is suggested by his statistics?

                      Yes, the advanced stats can't properly take into account the 19th c. style of play. He was roundly praised for base running, quality defensive versatility and inside ball while winning 2 batting titles. He was frequently cited as the best player ever by the end of his career. Although it's certainly not so it shows what high regard he was held in.

                      10. Is he the best player at his position who is eligible for the Hall of Fame but not in?


                      11. How many MVP-type season did he have? Did he ever win an MVP award? If not, how many times was he close?

                      I see 3-4 had the award been in place.

                      12. How many All-Star-type seasons did he have? How many All-Star games did he play in? Did most of the other players who played in this many games get in?

                      I see 7-8 had the game been in place. He could have made ten on reputation thought, who knows?

                      13. If this man were the best player on his team, would it be likely that the team could win the pennant?


                      14. What impact did the player have on baseball history? We he responsible for any rule changes? Did he introduce any new equipment? Did he change the game in any way?

                      Yes, he was one of the best and most famous base cutters that was a big catalyst to the addition of an umpire. He was also the reason for tightening on substitution rules. Possibly invented the hook slide.

                      15. Did the player uphold the standards of sportsmanship and character that the Hall of Fame, in its written guidelines, instructs us to consider?

                      He was quite an alcoholic and pushed the bounds of gamesmanship.
                      "No matter how great you were once upon a time — the years go by, and men forget,” - W. A. Phelon in Baseball Magazine in 1915. “Ross Barnes, forty years ago, was as great as Cobb or Wagner ever dared to be. Had scores been kept then as now, he would have seemed incomparably marvelous.”


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