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Who Am I?
I was irate over not being selected to the 1981 All Star game after hitting .344, but proved the voters right by hitting .244 the rest of the way.

Who am I?

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Play Ball: Stories of the Ball Field (1888)

By Patrick Mondout
May 1, 2008

Last month we republished John Montgomery Ward's Base-Ball: How to Become a Player from 1888. This month we add a rarer book from that same year. The bonus BaseballChronology Book of the Month is Play Ball: Stories of the Ball Field by Mike 'King' Kelly.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 Chapter 9
Chapter 2 Chapter 10
Chapter 3 Chapter 11
Chapter 4 Chapter 12
Chapter 5 Chapter 13
Chapter 6 Chapter 14
Chapter 7 Chapter 15
Chapter 8 Chapter 16
Chapter 17

The book, introduced and assembled by Boston Globe columnist John J. Drohan and published by Emery & Hughes, is the first book of baseball stories ever written by a baseball player. To the extent that it is autobiographical, it is the first of that genre in the baseball world as well. (Fellow baseball writer Jacob Morse was assumed for decades to have been the ghostwriter, but an 1889 book by J.B. Cullen called The Irish in Boston makes it clear that it was Drohan and that is the only actual evidence we have.)

It sold for 25˘ and was published just prior to the 1888 baseball season while Kelly was with Boston and six years before his untimely death at age 36 due to complications from pneumonia.

To make it somewhat easier to view, we have published it on two web pages. This is the first. A link to the other page is at the bottom of the page.

Everything from the original book is included and some images have been added (there were none in the original). As always we will point out any obvious factual errors in the text and have corrected minor textual errors. To avoid confusion, commentary we add to the text is enclosed by double brackets and in color like this: [[BaseballChronology note: This is a sample.]]

PLay Ball:
Stories of the Diamond Field

By
Mike Kelly of the Boston Base-Ball Club


 

To the thousands of American people who annually grow
excited and cheer on their favorite players to victory:
to the ball players of America:
and to the small boy who does so much to uphold the game:
this book is dedicated by the author.

 


Preface


As a rule, the preface of a book is dull, and there are very few people energetic enough to wade through it. Therefore, when Mr. Kelly requested me to write a preface to his little book, I made up my mind that it would be brief, and to the point. The man himself is so well known to the great American public, that one word of introduction about him is hardly necessary. For a number of years he has stood at the head of his profession. He got there by hard work, and he holds the position by a wonderful display of physical vitality. He has done much to improve the interests in our national sport, and on all sides he is hailed as "The King of the Diamond," a title which he richly deserves.

Mr. Kelly's work on the base ball field has been simply wonderful. Not only is he a good, safe batter, but he is regarded as the very best base runner in this country. Combined with these valuable requisites in the makeup of a ball player, he is one of the greatest all-around players in this country. He is record at the finish of the season might, perhaps, not be as good as that of other players, but it must be remembered that he is not a record player. He is a winning player, and always plays for his nine to win. Kelly on the ball field is much better known than Kelly in private life. On the ball field he is a dashing, go-ahead, get-there, and inspires his fellows with the greatest confidence. He is cautious, yet at the same time he is bold. He is quick to see a point, and quicker to take advantage of it. When other men would stop to think in a game, he would be acting, and generally acting for the best. Kelly has an immense amount of energy, and, when on the ball field, he seldom rests. How wonderfully clever is his coaching from the first bag when a run is needed! As a base runner he has few equals. He has a record of having covered the bases in just fifteen seconds.

Mr. Kelly won his great reputation while a member of the Chicago club. While there his great head-work, his bold but successful tricks, his wonderful base running, and his timely batting, all assisted in winning many championship games for his club. At present he is a member of the Boston club. It cost the Boston management just $15,000 to secure him for a year. Of this sum, $10,000 was paid to the Chicago club for his release, and $5,000 for the first year's salary. The salary and premium is just about one and one-half as great as that received by the chief justices of the United States, and five times as large as the amount received by the governors of many States. It will be remembered that for this salary, Mr. Kelly works but a few months in the summer season.

Off the ball field, as well as on, Mr. Kelly is a great favorite. He is personally acquainted with many prominent men, and has more friends than any man in his profession. His cheery, open-hearted nature is almost a proof against enmity,—unless, perhaps, some does exist in the base ball ranks because of professional jealousy. He is generous with his money; and no comrade or acquaintance, in misfortune, ever applied to him for aid and went away empty handed. An intelligent, agreeable conversationalist, he always has something good to say, and he knows just how to say it. Blessed with an original personality, he finds many imitators, especially in his profession. If Kelly originates today, his idea is copied tomorrow.

In his book, "Play Ball," Mr. Kelly doesn't claim any literary finish. He simply has a series of stories to relate, and he tells them in his own way. What could be better. In base ball, he doesn't play to win the applause of the grand stand; he plays heart and soul to please the masses. So it is in this book. It is intended for the American people, both old and young. It will be found as interesting to the overworked lawyer, who closes his office early on a summer afternoon to see a ball game, as it is to the American small boy, who "hooks Jack," and witnesses the game from behind a knot-hole in the fence. It will be found particularly interesting coming from the "king of the ball field." In closing I can but say, "Long live the king!" May his book be as successful with the lovers of the national sport, as its author has been on the diamond field.

Boston, April 1, 1888

 

Chapter I

There are so many exciting incidents in the life of a ball player, that it is almost impossible for one to put them on paper. A ball player is a busy individual in the summer months, and in the winter very often he has but little to do. Therefore, when the idea of writing a few reminiscences was suggested to me, I thought it an excellent idea. Here at Hyde Park on the Hudson, where I spend the winter months, one has plenty of time for literary work. There isn't a great deal to do here in winter. There is plenty of ice boating and "sliding" down the big hill,—"tobogganing" they call it in the big cities, but "sliding" is good enough for Hyde Park,— the entertainments and dances at the engine-house, the billiard tournament at the Hyde Park Club, a most excellent club for young men, founded by Archibald Rogers a few years since, and the meeting of the village gossips at "Pop" Hornung's. So one can see that writing is a most agreeable change from these pastimes.

I will not endeavor to tire my readers with a history of the game in this country. Abler pens than mine have done that. I will simply relate some of my experiences on the diamond field, and give a brief sketch of my career.

There are so many interesting things which occur in the course of a season, that unless one has a particularly retentive memory, he is apt to be at a loss just to know when to begin and where to stop. In these articles I will not bore my readers by discussing rules or the principles of the game. Those of you who have seen a base ball game know just how its played, and what the rules are. Those of you who have never witnessed a game of ball should go, at the first opportunity next season. I am willing to wager that after looking at three or four games you will become a regular fiend. I have known men to forsake their business day after day to see their favorite clubs at work. There is excitement enough in two hours to last the ordinary man for as many days.

Many times have I been asked the question, "To what do you ascribe the great popularity of base ball?" This, seems to me, can be answered in just two words, "The excitement." People go to see games because they love excitement and love to be worked up. That is one reason why I believe in "kicking" now and then on the diamond. It may be all right for the newspapers to say that "base ball will become more popular when played without kicking." I disagree entirely with these authorities on this subject. Look at the Chicago Base Ball Club. It has been the most successful in this country. Why? One good reason because they are "chronic kickers," and people flock to see them to witness the sport. You won't find the ordinary man going out to a base ball field when it's 80° in the shade to see two clubs play ball for a couple of hours, without a word being said on either side. The people who go to ball games want good playing, with just enough kicking to make things interesting thrown in.

Of course, because of being the $10,000 beauty, and all that sort of thing, there was more or less excitement regarding my appearance with the Boston club last season. In some towns they had an idea that I was a sort of "Jumbo." Down in Hartford I remember playing a good game, and keeping pretty quiet all the way through it. Yet I played ball just as good as I ever did before. At the conclusion of the game I heard a conversation between two men.

One said, "So that is Kelly, is it? Well, what do you think of him?"

His partner replied, "Well, I firmly believe that he is an overrated player. Why, he didn't kick a bit. He can't play ball." You see he wanted more kicking and less ball playing. There wasn't excitement enough in the game, and it made him very sore, indeed.

All of which convinces me that a little kicking now and then will greatly please the best of men.

In this book I will, by request of a good many young men throughout the country, give a few hints on training. There are one hundred and one different ideas as to how a man should train. Some of them are good, and some of them are anything but good.

 

 

 

Chapter II

Whether it's of any particular interest or not I do not know, but as a matter of fact, I was born in Troy, N. Y., Dec. 31, 1857. My father enlisted among the first citizens of Troy, and did his duty as a soldier for three years —the term of his enlistment. He made a good soldier, too, and he liked it so well that at the end of his three years' enlistment he again joined Uncle Sam's forces, and served his flag until the war was over. Meanwhile I grew up a healthy, good-sized boy, and my good mother sent me to school in Troy when I was but five years old. She was desirous that I should receive a good education — a trait which runs through almost every parent who comes from the little green isle across the sea. They may not have had the advantages for an education themselves,— British misrule prevents that,— but they know the value of education, and feel that their sons and daughters shall receive their share of it in this great country of ours. When the war was over my father was stationed at Washington, so the family moved there. There were two generals I saw there in a parade of some sort when I was a boy, and I never shall forget their magnificence. They were General McClellan and General Kilpatrick. So much gold and gold lace I never saw before. They were simply magnificent. For years I remembered them, and it was the ambit ion of my life to go and do likewise. Well, there never was another war, to give me the desired opportunity. I pray God there never shall be. We are all citizens of one grand, glorious country. We all should work for the common good, and have our glorious country lead the nations of the world, which it certainly does.

I was sent to school again in Washington, and as I grew older I grew stronger, and so did my love for out-door sports. At nine years I could outrun any boy in the school, and a year later I made my first appearance as a base ball player.

Base ball in those days was a little bit different from the game of the present. The boys used to play "burn ball." If you were hit by the ball before reaching the base, you were out. Many a time have I been hit in the small of the back, and for a moment imagined that my back was broken.

I played my first real games in Washington as a member of a regularly organized club. I went in with the Keystones, and played in various positions.

One of the very best players in the team at that time was Dave Walling. Dave was a great ball player for a boy. Not only could he bat well, but he ran bases in great shape, and could play almost each and every position in the field in a most acceptable manner. I always said that if he stuck to it he would become a great ball player. But he wouldn't stick. He got stage-struck, and doubled up with Reynolds, who was also a Washington boy. Under the names of Reynolds and Walling, these two made quite a reputation on the variety stage. I have always felt bad for Walling. The stage gained a good actor, and the ball field lost a great player, and don't you forget it.

Ill health compelled my father to leave the army, and we moved to Paterson, N. J., where I saw for the first time the "red mud" for which that State is so famous. I liked the color of it at first, but after being caught in a bad rain-storm one night, and getting mud all over me from top to bottom, I had no special regard left for the aesthetic color. My father's health didn't continue to improve any, and we had not been in Paterson very long before he passed over to the great silent majority. My mother followed him not long after. God bless them both, I shall forever cherish and bless their memory.

My boyhood days in Paterson were just the same as is usually spent by boys. In my more youthful days, out-door sports occupied most of my time after school-hours. Like many of the college youth of the present day, I didn't go in very strong for study, but I was a great hand for the sport. "Jim" McCormick, now of the Pittsburg club, was one of my earliest comrades in Paterson. We always agreed upon the proper kinds of sport, and our great admiration for Joe Start bound us more strongly together. We did not know whether we would become actors, ball players, or engineers on the railroad. These, to us, were the ideal professions. We would talk for hours and hours over our whittling sticks talking over the glorious future which awaited us. Finally we resolved to go into the theatrical business. Mac's father had a good-sized cellar in his house, and here we erected our theatre. We had a disagreement on the opening bill. Mac wanted the performance to be "Jack Sheppard," my ideal was "Dick Turpin." Well, Mac had his way. His father owned the theatre. I wanted to play Jack, but again Mac had his way. He played the robber and I made my appearance as "Jonathan Wild, the thief taker." We opened the cellar, and to use a professional saying, "turned people away." There was just forty-five boys in the house, which meant that the proceeds were just forty-five cents. The play went along all right until near the close. Then "Jack Sheppard" is hanged. The rope was put around Mac's neck, and as the cheap curtains were drawn together the audience saw Jack pushed off the block he stood on. Jack grew black and blue in the face, and were it not for the arrival of McCormick senior on the stage, perhaps the present great pitcher of the Pittsburg club would never have been heard of. "Jack Sheppard" was cut down, and for a couple of days he was a very sick robber. He was willing that I should play Jack after that. But I wasn't. I didn't care to take any chances. That ended our season of theatrical management. It also killed Mr. McCormick's ambition to become an actor, and partly killed mine. I still have hopes, however.

Well, after that I went to work— for a time. I went in to a big mill for three dollars per week. I was supposed to carry baskets full of coal from the basement to the top floor. The baskets were almost as big as myself. I reported for duty one fine summer morning at six o'clock. I carried up one basket ten minutes later. When I came back I asked the foreman if that was to be my daily toil. He replied "Yes." All I had to do was to put my hat on, and again I was free to participate in out-door sports. McCormick went to work— he got the fever for work a small boy always has when going to school — but his was a far more important position. He kept turning a crank which kept the mill going. If Mac went off to get a drink of water, the mill shut down until he returned. It used to shut down pretty often during his two days' connection with it. He got tired and gave up his work. He also had plenty of time that summer for out-door sports.

After that I went to work as the paper boy between New York and Paterson. I used to go up to New York every morning at four o'clock, and return at six with my papers. It wasn't very pleasant work, I assure you. But I had to do work of some sort, and I preferred that. It gave me a chance to "play ball" in the afternoon. Friends advised me to go to work and leave base ball alone. They predicted that it would ruin me. Friends are sometimes wrong. Never disappoint a boy, parents, if you wish him to be successful in this world. If he wishes to be a clergyman, do not change his mind. He may be a heart-broken, disappointed man in later years. There is everything in one picking out his vocation. It may be the stage, literature, art, the law, or something else. Give the boy a chance to select for himself. If he wishes to become a base ball player, encourage him to be an honest one. There is honor in every profession. `Tis an honor to be an honest ball player. Be sure it's his vocation, first, then let him go ahead. You will never regret it.

 

 

 

Chapter III

In '73 I began to play in Paterson, N. J. McCormick came to me and said they were going to organize a base ball team, and asked me if I would join. I replied that I would be very happy to. We got together, and the next day the club was formed. Somebody wanted to name the club the Haymakers, but after a while I insisted that the Keystone was the best title. Mac agreed with me, and after due deliberation the club was called the Keystone. The captain of the club was William Purcell, who is now the captain of the Baltimore club. Purcell was a cranky sort of a boy at that time, but he could play great ball. He used to be all over the field, and kicked very strong when vigorous kicking was needed. McCormick, at that time, was about the same sort of a fellow that he is now. A great, big, soft-hearted boy. He was a good batter and very gritty. The great Nolan was the pitcher of our club, and a good pitcher he was. For several years we played together, and won game after game from the amateur clubs of Jersey. In 1876 Nolan quit us, and McCormick went in to pitch and I to catch. This is where we first got a reputation as the Keystone battery. It stuck to us for many years after. After the first season I was a valued member of the club. There was one cap in the nine, a fifteen-cent one, by the way, and I wanted it. Every boy in the nine did. Finally I said that if I didn't wear the cap I would not play in match games. Several of the club upheld me, and I wore the cap. The day I wore it was one of the happiest of my life. I felt that I was a "bigger man than old Grant," and strutted around the ball field like a game-cock.

Nolan, by the way, was a wonderful boy, too. Just now he is a great base ball authority in Paterson. He is on the police there, and he never misses a ball game that is played on his beat.

Our banner year was in 1876, when we beat all the Jersey clubs, and also several clubs from various parts of the country. We played a sort of cooperative game. Sometimes we got $1 for the day's work. Sometimes we got $4, but rarely more than $5. The only thing we were proud of in '76 was the defeat of the Stars, of Covington, Ky. They came our way and expected to slaughter us, but they didn't. We slaughtered them. They couldn't touch McCormick.

In the Stars at that time were Silver Flint, McSorley, Golden, Charley Foutz, later with the old St. Louis nine, and Andy Cummings. Silver Flint was at that time a tall, rawboned fellow, and was pretty innocent of the world and its ways. But it didn't take him very long to get initiated after he got into Chicago town. Chicago citizens have a knack of initiating a fellow pretty quickly after his arrival in town. Another crack club which we defeated that year was the Buckeyes, of Columbus. Everybody thought that they were invincible, until they met the old Keystones. In the Buckeyes at that time were Nolan, Barney, Ferran, Burke, Doescher, and Schaeffer. Burke was a splendid all-around player. He is at present in business at Albany, N.Y. Doescher was a member of the league umpiring staff last season. I regard him as being one of the best umpires in this country. He wasn't a great ball player, but he is a great umpire. George Schaeffer was afterwards in the Boston club. I believe that he is at present in Philadelphia. I saw him there the other day, and he looks just as young and handsome as he did in those days gone by. There was another good fellow in the nine, named Martin Nolan. He is now a successful lawyer in Columbus, O.

The great games of that season were played with the Mutuals, of Brooklyn. The Mutuals were, perhaps, the strongest base ball organization in New York. Well, we met them, and played a series of games for the championship. First one club would win a game then the other. In the club were Bobby Matthews, who is at it yet, Hicks, Nelson, and old Joe Start. There was a ball player for you. I regarded Joe Start as the most reliable man I ever saw cover the first bag, next to Anson. He saw his palmy days with the Mutuals, and later with the Providence club, when it was in the league. Not only could Joe Start bat well, but he could save the players more errors when covering the first bag than any man in the business. The games we had with the Mutuals finished the season in grand shape. It began to get cold, and finally the winter came. Like Othello, the ball player was without an occupation. I resolved to learn a trade. In the winter of 1877 I went into a factory to learn the silk weaver's trade. I stuck at it until the opening of the ball season. I was a crank on the game, and couldn't leave it alone if I wanted to. So I went at it again.

At the opening of the ball season that year I played several games with the Port Jervis team. I didn't care very much for the place, and jumped at an offer to go to the Buckeye club, with Jim McCormick for my pitcher. We had a great nine that year, and it was the first time that I really thought that I could play ball. Dorgan and I led off the batters. In the first game I made a base hit, and was so tickled that I started to steal second. I was thrown out, and the gang gave me the laugh. I didn't think that I was such a great ball player after that. I might have made the bag, too, but I had more confidence than I should have had. I thought that I could make it easy, but I couldn't.

Do you remember poor Chub Sullivan? What a big-hearted fellow he was. Chub was the first baseman of the team. He was a tall, handsome fellow, and one of the best dressed ball players I ever saw. He always wore fashionable clothes, and he was a fellow that could wear them, too. He died in Boston in 1882, and at the time, the Chicago club was in the city. They attended the funeral in a body. Chub Sullivan was a great ball player, and a grand good man in the bargain. He has been dead several years, yet his memory is kept green in the hearts of his friends. He was a man in every sense of the word. Among the other members of the club were George Streife, Burke, Harry Spence, who managed the Portland team last season and will manage the Hoosiers this year, and Charley Pabor, who is at present a member of the New Haven Police Force. They do say down in New Haven that Charley never missed a college game in the town. He almost went wild with joy when he saw the Yalensians beat the Boston league team at the opening of last season.

Well, we didn't get big salaries in those days, and a fellow was sometimes pretty lucky to get his salary. We didn't know the meaning of the words "advance money." Well, we didn't have a very prosperous season. The boys played good enough ball, but somehow or other they didn't seem to have the proper support from the patrons of the game. So on the nineteenth day of September the good old club disbanded. I looked about me, and didn't know just what I would do. I received a fine offer for me, at that time, to go with the Cincinnati club, and I accepted at once. I was more than glad to get in with such an array of talent as was in that club in '78. Just look at the names. There were Jim and Will White, who constituted the battery. The good old deacon could catch just as well in those days as he plays on a bag during the present time. Will White is in business in New Rochelle. Cal McVey—you all know Cal — left the base ball business, arid is happy in the possession of a ranch out in California. Charley Jones — Bostonians remember Long Charley—was playing with the Metropolitans last season. In 1879 I was with the same club. The nine remained pretty much the same, with the exception of Ross Barnes, one of the best ball players I ever saw, who was an addition. In '79 we played pretty bad ball, and we were away down low in the league.

A little thing occurred this season which convinces me that circumstances can make or break a man's future. We started on our Eastern trip the latter part of May. We went first to Troy, thence to Syracuse, to Providence, ending in Boston. The team started out under the management of "Jim" White. Jim grew discouraged at the bad business, resigned while at Troy, and Cal McVey went into authority. We lost one game out of three at Troy, two out of three in Syracuse, three in Providence, and the first two in Boston. Dickerson, one of the club, was under the weather, and I was playing in pretty bad luck. After the second Boston game was finished, the record showed that out of the last twenty-one times at the bat I had reached first base but once, and that was by virtue of an error. McVey announced privately that night that he had telegraphed Jack Leary, who was then in Manchester, to come on the next day and play on the nine in the last game in Boston. He said that he hadn't made up his mind whether to lay off Kelly or Dickerson; the latter was still ill, but he did hit the ball occasionally; but he thought that I was the one to be relieved. With that impression McVey went to bed. Much to Cal's disappointment, Leary did not arrive in time for the game, and I was put in again to play right field. I knew what was going on, and I became so desperate that the ice was broken, and I succeeded in scattering my ill luck to the winds. I went to the bat five times, making two doubles, a triple, and a home run. Cal was delighted with my stick work that day. The team returned home, and we met the Chicagos. In the first game I was very lucky; I batted in every run made, and won the game for my club. At the end of the season I stood up among the leading batters. What might have been the result if Jack Leary appeared on the grounds in Boston? I would have been aid off, and returned to Paterson in disgrace. Perhaps I never would have ad nerve enough to play in a league club again. That moves me to repeat the sacred thought:

Great God, on what a slender thread
Hang everlasting things.

 

 

Chapter IV

In the fall of that year I was with the Cincinnati-Buffalo combination which visited San Francisco. We remained their twelve weeks, played a good stiff game of ball, and came back with a pocketful of money. In the nine which visited 'Frisco were Jimmy Galvin, Clapp, John Reilley, Smith, now of the Pittsburgs, little Dave Force, whom we called the boy wonder, Jack Rowe, and Purcell. We arrived in 'Frisco, after a very pleasant journey, Oct. 5. We played the California nine at Oakland the next day, and beat them 5 to 0. The Hop Bitters team had arrived their about three weeks before us. The Californians thought they were the best ball team in the country. A game was arranged with this nine for the following Sunday. Expectations ran high, and their was great excitement, of course. There was more or less betting, the Hop Bitters team being the favorite with the sports. We whipped them in
the first game by a score of 9 to 2, and there was tremendous excitement. Public opinion changed, and we were the greatest ball nine in the world. The next Sunday Chicago defeated us in the first game, and public opinion changed again, all of which convinces me that the public is very fickle, indeed. If you're on top, you're a great fellow. A man was never so great but that his place could be filled. The king is dead; long live the king. That's the way of the world, in base ball as well as in anything else. We played a series of games with the Chicago club, and each nine won three.

Did I ever tell how I signed with the Chicago club? Well, Anson became a bit interested in my playing. He asked me if I would like to become a member of the Chicago club, and I replied that nothing would please me better. Anson wired President Hulbert, and he replied, "Get Kelly by all means." For two weeks Anson and I struggled before signing the contract. Anson wanted me for $100 less than my price. We met every day and talked the thing over. Anson was obstinate; so was I. Anson came into my room one day and said, "Well, Kel, are you going to sign?"

"No, sir," I replied, "not unless you give me the money I want. I am not at all particular to become a member of the Chicago nine, and unless I get the money I want, I would just as soon go somewhere else."

Anson looked at me, shrugged his shoulders, and said that I would be sorry by-and-by. I told him that I could stand it, if he could. As a matter of fact, it was the dream and ambition of my life to become a member of the Chicago club. I knew it meant lots of hard work, and I also knew that if I was a member of the club, and could play ball at all, Anson would be the one to give me a chance. He was always willing to push a young fellow ahead. He didn't know what professional jealousy meant. Well, I wasn't anxious that he should know that I wanted to go to Chicago. If he did, he would get me at his own price, just as sure as fate. So I remained indifferent. For several days I kept away from Anson. Finally, I was gathering my things and was about to start for home. Anson came up into my room. "Well, are you ready to sign, Kelly?"

"Quite ready, Mr. Anson, providing, of course, you pay me what I think is fair."

"Well, all right, my boy, you can have it. Put your name to the contract."

I did so, and in less than no time I was a member of the Chicago Base Ball Club.

Our club left San Francisco on the night of Dec. 19, and arrived at Council Bluffs Christmas night, in a blinding snow-storm. We were compelled to stop over, and went to the Ogden Hotel. You should have seen us when we entered the hotel. We were sights. The nine men wore beards that hadn't met with a razor for many, many days. We all wore flannel shirts, and when we registered the proprietor smiled all over, and welcomed the Cincinnati club to the Ogden. Then he invited us to a dance, which took place in the big dining-room. You should have seen those ten ball players march in to the dance-hall. Ten men with blue shirts, black ties and unclean faces. The ladies and gentlemen in the hall were frightened half to death. They had an idea that we were stage-coach robbers, or something of that sort. After they discovered that we were ball players, they forgot about our looks. They made us lions for the night. We danced there until 6 a.m. We arrived in Cincinnati after a long trip, and on New Year's night I arrived home in Paterson.

What did I do?

Went straight to another dance, and was at it all night. I could dance in those days, because, you see, I never was bothered with "Charley Horse."

While at the dance I heard a conversation between McCormick's father and Purcell's father. Old McCormick was talking of a game of ball he saw
the season before. He said: "Mr. Purcell, do yez know that the buoys gave your son great support all the past summer?"

"Indade, they did nothing of the sort," quoth Mr. Purcell, who seemed very mad.

"Why, of course they did," said McCormick, "and everybody knows it."

"Well, everybody doesn't know it, Mr. McCormick. No boys ever supported me boy. I've been a father to him and I've supported him for the past twenty years, and you bet yer sweet loife, Mike, that nobody can say anything to the contrary."

 

 

Chapter V

Two letters were received here at Hyde Park by me recently, one from Chicago, the other from a base ball enthusiast at Worcester. The Chicago man wanted me to tell what I "knew about base ball," the other asserting that people didn't care so much for the base ball part of it, but would like me to give impressions of some people I have met. I hardly think it would me interesting for me to give my impressions of the ball players I have met.

A man cannot always give his impressions of people he has met. Do you think so? It would be particularly hard to go through the list of ball players, and tell just what you think of them. I do not mean to cast any reflection upon the members of that profession. Not a bit of it. Tim Murnane — who can tell you more good stories to the square inch about ball players than any man in this country— once said to me: "Kel, ball players are as jealous of each other as two leading actresses in the same combination."

Several years' experience on the ball field convinces me that Tim was right.

Of course there is no exception without a rule. In some instances I've known players to speak in the highest terms of a man who was the star of the club he played in. Every club must have a star, just the same as a dramatic company must have a leading man.

In a small way I was a star myself last season. This was caused by the big sum of money paid for my release from Chicago. I didn't wish to have all the glory, because it was very inconvenient at times. Often on trips last season I was asked the question in hotels, "Which in Kelly?"

Sometimes Tate and sometimes Burdock would be pointed out as the man who was worth $10,000 in a base ball slave market.

But before going any further, it might be well to say that it's not well for any club to have a star player. Every man should receive fair, square treatment. The "star" never does. His words are quoted on and off the ball field, and if he makes the slightest mistake he is hissed and jeered.

As I remarked previously, the public is fickle. A man might make a wonderful play in one inning, and receive thunders of applause for so doing. In the next he might make an error, and the cheers would be changed to applause not so gratifying. A player doesn't always work for applause, or for the cheers of the grand stand. He can stand the cheers of the multitude all right, but the other applause is apt to rattle him, unless he is an old-timer.

Captain Anson, of the Chicago club, is one of the few men in the league that cannot be rattled under any circumstances. I've been on the ball fields with him, and heard five thousand people shouting, howling and hissing him, but he only smiled. He liked it. Yet he would come to the bat in the next inning, perhaps, and the hisses and howls would be changed to loud applause.

The crowd was fickle, and Anson won them over by displaying wonderful nerve. He is my ideal of what a player should be.

I was a bit afraid of Anson when I first met him. But after the first meeting we became fast friends, and our friendship has continued up to date, and I sincerely trust that it will ever be so.

Anson engaged me in 'Frisco in '79, and when I returned home I remained there just three weeks. I was ordered to report to Captain Anson at Chicago, April 1, 1880, and I did so. In the clubs I have played with before going to Chicago, I had a comparatively easy time. It wasn't necessary that one should train carefully, providing you played good ball. I expected a similar fate in Chicago, but how sadly was I disappointed.

Captain Anson met me there on a Sunday, and we had quite a long talk. He said that the next day he would take me around to see W. H. Hulbert, then president of the Chicago club. Like many others who had never met Mr. Hulbert, I stood in wholesome awe of him. A more thorough gentleman than he never lived. He was very kind to me at our first meeting, and told me just what the club expected. Our interview lasted but a few minutes, yet the impression remains with me still. Mr. Hulbert lived just two years after he appeared first with the Chicago club. He was bothered all the while by heart disease, and his physicians advised him strongly against attending any of the games. But he was an ardent lover of the national game, and refused to heed their advice. He attended all the games up to '82, when he suddenly died, in April of that year. Although his death was expected, it caused a great deal of mourning throughout the country. Mr. Hulbert was a man in every sense of the word. During the few years that I knew him I was with him very often. He was a big-hearted, honest, straightforward man. He did more to build up the national game than any one man in this country. He was a man of many resources, of great executive ability, and just as kindly and as soft-hearted as a child. God bless his memory. He was a noble man.

In the Chicago club of 1880 were Goldsmith and Corcoran, pitchers; Silver Flint, catcher; Quest, 2b; Williamson, 3b; Burns, s.s.; Dalrymple, l.f,; Gore, c. f.; Beals, substitute; Anson, lb, and I played right field.

We were all pretty stout that first day of April, when we got into Chicago. I thought that perhaps we would do a little gymnasium work, and that's all. But how mistaken I was. It almost makes me shiver to think of it.

"How much do you weigh, Kel?" said George Gore to me one bright afternoon in the Chicago club-room.

"About one hundred and seventy," I replied; "but why do you ask?" "Well, Ans' will be after you. You've got to come down about twenty pounds in the next few weeks."

I didn't quite realize what Gore meant at the time, but it wasn't very long before I did. Captain Anson ordered us to be ready for work on April 1, and we began to train for the summer. You haven't any idea what Anson meant by training. He meant training in every sense of the word. Directly after a light breakfast he would accompany us to the park, where the morning exercises would begin. We would walk a mile or so, to get limbered up, so to speak. Then Anson would lead the precession, and we would indulge in a fifteen-mile dog-trot.

He worked just as hard as the rest of us, and so we couldn't do any kicking. It wouldn't do any good, anyhow.

Then we would return to the hotel, have dinner, and rest for an hour or two. About two o'clock Anson would tell us to put our uniforms on. That meant a game of ball. It was a real game, too. No knocking up the ball and catching it was allowed. You would just have to get out in that field, and play as good ball as though there were five thousand spectators present at the game.

It was base ball all the time. When you hit a ball, even if it was gathered in by the pitcher, you would have to run to first base like a deer. If one didn't do it, the "old man" would be after him very strong. For a few days we were all broken up under his treatment. It was a bit heavy for us, you know. But after the first week we got used to it, and really enjoyed it. Anson himself would have as much fun on the field as a schoolboy let loose to play ball would have in an afternoon. He would grin when he struck out, and he would grin just the same if he caught "Goldie's" delivery for a base hit.

George Gore didn't like the training, and he suggested that we escape it for a couple of days, by feigning illness. There was some kind of sport going on down there, and we wanted very much to be present. We sent word down stairs in the morning that we were very ill, and wanted to be excused. Anson came up and looked at us.

"You fellows don't look very well," he said. "I guess a big dose of hot ginger won't do you any harm."

It was pretty rough on us, but we had to do the ginger up. Then Anson went off, whistling a merry tune. We were in bed—in lavender—when Anson returned. "Feel better?" he asked, and we replied, "No."

That meant another dose of ginger. Well, we stood it, thinking of the sport. Just as we were going to leave the hotel in a carriage, Anson came up and said: "Boys, I just felt a little ill myself, and thought I'd lay off this afternoon. But you both look healthy, and it braces me up. I guess the sport will get along without you both this afternoon. Come over to the park. We're going to have a little practice game over there."

We went with him. It was pretty hard to fool the old man.

When the season began, the result of Captain Anson's work was easily apparent. The boys played ball in great shape, and it was sure betting that we would win the championship. We did win it, too, although we had to make a pretty good fight for it.

That same nine played ball together for three years, and won the championship. In 1883 Boston wrested it from us. Never before was seen such batting and base running as those boys indulged in during the season of 1880. Why, it was scientific batting and base running from the start. Hulbert had great confidence in the base-running qualities of the boys. I have heard Anson say, that at one of the exciting games there, he heard Hulbert offer to wager that Kelly would score. Yet there were two men out, and I only made the first bag by a scratch. It was the best base-running nine that year I ever saw together. The men could run like deers, and we fooled most of the pitchers and catchers in the league that year.

Again, the batting of the boys was very scientific. It was the first time I ever heard of sacrifice hitting. If a man ever made a hit and got to first, the chances were ten to one that he would be sacrificed to third and then batted home. There were many other clubs who could outbat and outfield us in a game, yet we would win again and again under these circumstances.

The boys played great ball together, and they also did lots of kicking. I was a little behind the others in this respect on my first year, but I caught tip and finished under the wire with them the next year.

Unless I am very much mistaken, I was the first one to introduce signs to the pitcher. I did it in the games I caught that year, and it caught on right away. Before the season was over, many a base runner was caught because of those signs. But after a year the custom spread. In two years about every pitcher and catcher in the league were using signs. How a little thing does spread. Why, at the present time you find boys, fifteen years old, playing ball and using all the signs like veterans. Verily, this is the age of progress.

We got quite a warm reception up in Worcester that year. When we reached the town there was quite a large gathering to see what we looked like. I heard one fellow say: "They look like murderers." He was half right. Seldom, indeed, would you see such a crowd of men. The members averaged six feet, and in weight about two hundred would be the limit. I wasn't near so heavy as that then, but have got nearer to it now.

Well, the fellows did some kicking on the field, and got the Worcester men pretty mad. There was lots of howling, and at one time it was feared that there would be a riot. But the Chicago club, each member with a bat over his shoulder, surrounded the umpire, and marched him off the field. Captain Anson led the precession with a bland smile upon his face, as much as if to say, "How tickled I am at the warmth of your reception." The Chicago club have on a good many occasions performed escort duty for umpires. We saved many a good fellow from being roughly handled by a crowd.
I remember an experience I had with Tommy Bond, when he was the crack pitcher of the Boston club. It was my first appearance in Boston with the Cincinnatis. I had quite a good reputation as a base runner, and Tom knew it.

"Wait till he tries to steal a bag on me this afternoon," he said in the United States Hotel to McVey. "I'll kill him, sure, before he reaches the base.
I heard this, and made up my mind that Tommy would have lots of killing to do. Well, he hadn't. I made the first base once, in a scratch hit out of five times at the bat.

"You're going to steal it, are you?" said Tommy, and I replied that "I was."

Well, I was pretty confident, and started down for that bag like a streak of lightning. But Snyder was "on," and the ball got there before I did. The result was that White, McVey, Bond, and all the boys gave me the grand laugh.

I felt pretty bad that night, and resolved to get even the next day. This time I kept things to myself. I made three base hits off Bond, and stole three bases. One of these was from second to third, while Snyder was returning the ball to Bond. The laugh that night was all on Bond, but he stood it cheerfully, and said that "Kelly deserved to get there, because he had nerve enough to take the chances."

 

 

Chapter VI

The Chicago club always had to play a pretty stiff game of ball, to win from the other league clubs. There was always more or less feeling against the nine in various quarters, probable because they were such great kickers at times. However, the boys didn't mind this very much; in fact they enjoyed it. It spurred them on, sometimes, to play great ball. I think the three most exciting games of ball I ever played in, were against the Providence team, at
Chicago, in 1882. The games practically settled which nine was to wave the championship pennant. The Providence club came to Chicago, four games ahead of the White Stocking nine. George and Harry Wright were two of the first members of the club that I met near the dressing-room. Harry was
the manager of the Providence club then, and George was the short-stop. The latter was a great short-stop. He picked up a ball with great neatness and dexterity. He was a good, safe thrower, and seldom, indeed, did he make a mistake. A very gentlemanly fellow both on and off the ball field, he had a good many friends, both in and out of the base ball profession. He is now in business in Boston with Henry Ditson, a bright young fellow, who is a real lover of lawn tennis.

[[BaseballChronology note: The "bright young" Ditson had earlier hired Kelly to write a few pages for the Wright & Ditson's Book on Batting, Pitching, Fielding, and Base Running.]]

Both the Wrights were confident that Chicago would drop three straight games to the Providence boys, and that they would win the championship. I wanted to bet Harry a new hat, but he wouldn't bet. The first game was the most hotly contested game of ball I ever played in. Every point was fought, and each man exerted every effort to have his side win. We, perhaps, had a little the best of it, in view of the fact that we were at home, and were sure to get the encouragement of the thousands of spectators who witnessed the game. The score in the last inning was four to three in favor of the Providence club. There was one man out when I scratched a hit. I got on first and was about to make an attempt to steal second, when Burns, who followed me, hit a hot grounder to George Wright. There was one player out, and if George ever got the ball to second it meant a double play, and that would settle the game. Instead of fielding the ball to the second baseman, he started for the bag himself. I never ran so hard in my life. I reached the bag a second before George, and then like a flash, he raised his arm to send the ball to the first base, to cut off Burns. Somehow or other an accident occurred at that moment. My arm went up in the air, and it caught George on the shoulder. The result was, that when the ball left George's hand it went away over into the grand stand. I scored first, and Burns followed me a moment later. The cheers from a thousand enthusiastic spectators, proved that the Chicago club had won the first great game. The next two were afterwards won by us, and in the ten games that followed with other clubs, Providence won but two.

Harry Wright was the maddest man in Chicago when the series had finished, and he claimed that were it not for "Kelly and his infernal tricks," the Providence club would have won the series and the championship. He swore that he would have revenge in the future. I saw him, and had quite a talk with him. I said, "Mr. Wright, I have played ball for a number of years; I will do everything in the world to win a championship game of ball. That is what I am paid for. But during all the time I have played ball, I never hurt a player. I never spiked a man, never knocked a man down. I play ball to win, and if I have to employ a few subterfuges to win I cannot help it. I wouldn't willfully hurt George Wright, or any man in your club. But self-preservation is the law of nature. When I saw George raise his arm, I knew that if something didn't occur we would be defeated. I didn't think of George nor myself. I simply thought of the Chicago club." Harry was smiling before I finished, and he was willing to forgive me. Instead of having revenge, he has been a good friend of mine since that time.

The Chicago club had considered fun at my expense, early in this season, "82. It seems that something or other I did in Boston the previous season — I did so many things to displease Bostonians in those days that I cannot remember just what it was—had aroused the ire of the Boston press. The papers went for me hot, and all sorts of threatening things were said. Of course all the boys had the papers, and they showed them to me day after day. Finally it looked as though I would be mobbed if I went to Boston. The boys worked on me so that I got ill, and wanted to be excused from making the trip. But Anson refused to accept the excuse. Williamson came to we one day, and advised me to cut my hair off. He thought that if I did, that I wouldn't be recognized in Boston. I went to the barber's, and had all the hair taken off, the barber using a sort of horse-clipping machine. The next day it was Silver Flint's turn. He advised me to have the moustache shaved off. He claimed that if this was done, I would escape the vigilance of the Boston Judge Lynch party. Off came the moustache; it was Burns' turn next. He advised me to wear different clothes, and I took his advise. I went to Boston disguised like the French detectives we read about. I was the most disappointed man in Boston. There wasn't any outbreak; in fact, I was treated to a very kindly manner, far better, in fact, than I deserved. The boys all had the laugh on me. My hair was gone, and so was that "beautiful moustache," as Flint said. I was more than willing that they should do all the laughing. This experience convinced me that although newspapers can do a good deal for good or evil, they cannot start a riot.

 

 

Chapter VII

A great deal of responsibility rests upon the shoulders of a captain in a professional ball club. He is in a measure responsible for a man off as well on the field. If a player is not in good condition to play a good, strong game, the captain is the one to be censured by the management. If the captain in return censures the player, by fining him, the chances are that he has made an enemy. The result is, that if four or five men are fined, the captain soon discovers that life to him is somewhat of a burden. He can see that the men are not playing good ball, but he cannot openly accuse them of this. If he levies another fine, there is going to be another row.

The captain of a ball club has to be a man of considerable discretion. He is always compelled to have a level head and an even temper. He must know just the moment to kick at a decision of an umpire; he must know the moment to give the umpire what the small boy calls "taffy." He must always encourage his players; never discourage them, even if half a dozen strike out every time they come to the bat. He must listen to their grievances, and sympathize with them in their misfortune. He must tell them that they are great players, and that base ball couldn't get along without them. He must have the confidence of the management, or he cannot be a success. It may seem pleasant and profitable to be the captain of a nine, but it isn't. I had quite enough of it for one season, thank you. In the future I am more than contented to go out into the field and just "play ball" for a pastime.

In my year's experience as a captain, I never fined a player. Perhaps I may have had good cause to in one or two instances, but I didn't. What good would it do if I did? It would not improve the playing of the men any, nor would it help me in the end. Trouble enough will come to a captain without his going in search of it. When I was a boy, playing ball, it was the ambition of my life to wear a white belt, on which was to be marked in vermilion letters "captain." I've grown older since. Now, I would rather see the other fellow wear the white belt, on which was inscribed the letters of vermilion hue.
Who is the greatest captain in the league? Capt. A. C. Anson, of the Chicago club! He is, without doubt, the most successful captain in the league. I say this without the least desire to injure any of the other gentlemen who fill the same position in other clubs.

I do not mean that Anson is the only good captain in the country. Not by any means. We have had and have some wonderfully clever men playing on the field, who have made great reputations in this position.

John M. Ward, to my mind, was a great captain. He could see the fine points in a game as quick as any man who stepped on a ball field. Quick and alert, he was always ready to make a good, strong fight for his side. Ward knows as much, if not a little more, about the rules of base ball, than any man in the country. He is a scholarly gentleman, a good fellow, and a great ball player. Ward's great hobby is the brotherhood; and, while some may question its entire success, there isn't any doubt that were it not for Ward's headwork and persistency, no such organization would be in existence. There are some managers who do not believe in the brotherhood, and assert that it will never amount to anything. Well, perhaps it won't. Yet with Ward at its head, you can depend upon it the brotherhood is a strong factor in the national game. It can exert a wonderful power for good or evil. I hope it will be for good.

"Buck," or William Ewing, of the New Yorks, is another good captain. "Buck" may not have such a good base ball head as Ward, but he has hustling qualities which generally land him among the winners. "Buck" is a splendid fellow personally, and is one of the best-natured men in the profession. In some quarters he is looked upon as a kicker. But he is a good-natured kicker, whose little kicks never leave a sting behind.

Arthur Irwin is a captain who has come strongly to the front in the past few years. He is in many respects a good captain. Were it not for ill health at times, he would be great. Irwin is quiet and gentlemanly on the ball field, but he can stick out as long as any other man, when occasion requires. He has handled his men in great shape, and should be given lots of credit for the fine showing made by his nine. Irwin has brought the "Phillies" to the
front so rapidly that it wouldn't surprise me a bit to see him land them number one one of these days.

In regard to the great captains of the country, I would like to say a word about John Morrill, of the Boston nine.

During the winter, and more particularly during my last visit to Boston, I heard in certain quarters that Morrill and Kelly were not good friends. This statement is false in every particular. Morrill and I are, and always have been, the very best of friends. I did not know Morrill very well until I joined the Boston club. I found him a pleasant, affable gentleman, and I do not think a man ever played ball in the Boston nine who doesn't say the same thing. It was also said that there was rivalry between Morrill and Kelly; it was hitting that Morrill wanted to be manager and captain, and that Kelly wanted the same positions. This is also silly and false. From the day that I was appointed captain of the Boston club, John Morrill did everything in his power to make my regime a success. I wasn't any more anxious then to be captain than I am now. But I had to take that which was thrust upon me. John Morrill knows this as well as I do. If Morrill was jealous, then he had a peculiar way of showing it. He exerted himself in every conceivable manner to help me out. He did so many times, and I would indeed be ungrateful if I did not fully appreciate his worth, both as a man and as a ball player.

There are few players in this country who are as well posted on the rules of base ball as John Morrill. He doesn't have a great deal to say, perhaps, but he keeps up an awful thinking all the time. As a baseman he has but one superior, to my mind, and that one is A. C. Anson. Morrill is a careful man, and saves the Boston club a good many dollars in the course of a year, as a manager. He is worth a load of money to the Boston management, and I think the three magnates appreciate his worth. If they don't, they make a very great mistake. Morrill is a good manager, and a first-class captain. He handles his men in good shape, and treats one and all justly and honestly.

Now I have all these men in mind, when I say that A. C. Anson is the best field captain we have in this country. I worked under him for several years, and know of just what stuff he is made. Anson was born in Iowa, and thirty-five years ago. He's a giant, standing six feet two inches tall, and weighing, when in good condition, just about two hundred and twenty pounds. His long connection with the Chicago club has made him famous in every city in this country.

He made his first trial at base ball in 1871, and was a success from the start. He's been at it ever since. Since coming into the league, he has made the best record of any man at batting. He has been first three times; second, three times; fourth, twice; fifth, twice, and sixth once. Isn't that a record for a man to feel proud of? He has had the championship in his city for a greater number of years than all the others combined. Isn't this a record to be proud of?

Why is it that Anson has been so successful? It's a comparatively easy matter to answer the question. He enthuses his followers. He doesn't demand it, but does ask politely that every man who steps on a field shall play ball from beginning to end. If his club is seven runs ahead in the last inning, he's going to have his men play as hard as if they were just seven behind. Anson has no favorites. He won't have any in his club. He treats all men alike. I was as near to him as any man who ever played ball in the White Stocking nine. Yet never did he show it, on or off the field. He treated me like the rest, never better, and once and a while a bit worse. When it was the latter, I thoroughly deserved it.

Anson is the easiest captain in the league to get along with, if you mind your own business,— the hardest, if you won't. He thoroughly believes in discipline.

Sometimes he is apt to be harsh, but when he is it is with a man whom the other players think is the white-headed boy. He watches every point in the game. Nothing escapes him. He is working all the time for success, and, as a result, his men are bound to do the same thing. He is good-natured, too, even when he is making a great fight. There was supposed to be some feeling between Anson and myself, but it isn't so. There never was and never will be.

I remember a little incident that occurred last summer, which tickled him so that he was good-natured for days afterwards. I made a base hit, and I think there was only one out. I stole second, and the next batter bunted the ball to Williamson, and the latter picked it up and sent it to Anson. We needed the run badly, and I was also very tired in the bargain. So I started to run to third, but cut across the diamond in my haste, and making a long slide, reached the home plate before the ball arrived. Anson was very mad, or appeared to be, but I could see that he was grinning. He couldn't help it. He was reminded of old times. He rushed up to Phil Powers and made a great kick. Powers declared me out, but, as a matter of fact, I wasn't. He didn't know whether I had touched third bag or not. Anson chuckled grimly, and returned to the first bag. After the game he said:

"Well, Kel, you didn't get there after all, did you? I'm surprised that you would attempt anything so dishonest."

"So am I," I replied, "but were it not for you and Chicago, I would lever try things of that sort. When I did it first you thought it was great. It tickled you immensely. You can't go back on what you have said in the past, can you?"

"Well, it's just here, Kel. It was all right in Chicago, but times have changed since then. I'm watching you all the time when we're playing, Kel, and I'm willing to say that you keep me thinking. But, old man, do you know what I felt when you stole across the diamond? I felt like shouting, Hurry up, Kel, or Powers will be on."'

Anson took more long chances to win a game of ball than any other captain I ever saw. I have seen him win a game under very peculiar circumstances.

We were playing against the New Yorks. It was in the last inning, and the game was five to five. McCormick was pitching and I was catching. McCormick had pitched in two or three games that week with a pretty sore arm. He was pretty tired in the last inning, and Anson was the first to notice it. The umpire called a good ball a strike, and Anson objected. To his mind, he said, it should have been a ball. He had a ten-minute argument, and getting near me, gave the tip that I should hurt my finger. The next ball pitched did that. I had to go in the dressing-room, and it was fully ten minutes before I could show up. In the meantime Fred Pfeffer had been hurt by a pitched ball in the practicing, and as a result, there was almost half an hour's delay. Mac braced up and felt pretty good again. He pitched a great inning, and then we made one run in the next. We had won the game. If McCormick had not got that rest, we would have been slaughtered.

On another occasion we were two runs behind the Detroits. A man was on second, and a base hit was sent into the field, which would have allowed him to score. But he didn't. He tripped when he reached third, and got mixed up with the bag. That is just what Anson wanted him to do. Then the man on first stole second, and a base hit brought in two runs. A couple of sacrifice hits just won that game.

He has tried and invented more schemes to win games than any player living. He will advise his men to steal bases, and will encourage them if they fail.
"Never mind, old fellow," he will say, "you made a great bluff at it. You'll get it the next time, you bet."

He never discourages a player, and when a young man comes into the club, he treats him like a younger son until the young man gets fresh, and then is sat down on very, very hard. As a result, the players are always working hard to win the love of the old man. When they make a brilliant play, he is the first one to come forward and say something about it. When a poor play is made does he kick? Not at all. He simply tells the man who makes the error that mistakes will happen, but cautions him to try and be a little more careful.

There isn't any doubt about his standing, at all. He is the greatest captain in the league. He plays just as hard to win exhibition games from minor clubs as he does to win the league championship games. I talked with Walt Williams, the well-known "monopole" agent in the Hoffman House, at the close of the season of '87. Mr. Williams is a Chicago man, and knows Anson very well.

He said, "Well, Kel, Anson couldn't win this year, could he? He cannot win with an indifferent nine."

"That's so," I replied, "but he can make nine poor players go on the field and make them play a stiffer game of ball than any man living."

Anson, I really believe, can take nine raw men who never saw a ball game, and in two months he will make ball players of them. He is a good fellow, a staunch friend, and I hope he will be for many years to come, what he is today, the greatest base ball captain in this country.

 

 

 

Chapter VIII

There is lots of luck about base ball. There isn't any doubt about that. This factor—for it is a factor—enters largely into the game. Sometimes we see the giant club of the league fall before the weakest clubs. Yet the very next day the tables will be turned. This is due to several causes. For instance, a club is apt to be in great condition as a whole one day, the next some one or two men are apt to be badly broken up. A base ball player is a tough, hardy individual as a rule, but he cannot stand any more than two ordinary horses, although he is generally supposed to.

A player cannot offer illness as a plea if he plays a weak game of ball. If he does, nobody will believe him. He must play a good, strong game, day after day, be he healthy or ill. Now, if one man is badly broken up, the result is that the whole club soon becomes demoralized. Six men cannot win a game, seven cannot, eight cannot, neither can nine, sometimes. I have known instances when it was absolutely necessary for the umpire to move his trunk, so to speak, into the club he works for, and help his players to win a victory. It requires ten good, healthy men to win a game of this sort. But as a rule, nine men are quite sufficient. But they must be healthy, and in good condition, or they cannot win, even if luck is with them. What I want to say is this: To be successful, and win games, there must be nine men in a club who are working and striving shoulder to shoulder, on a steady march to victory. There must be no dissensions, no petty jealousies, no malice, no spite of any sort. The men must be good friends, and have things so arranged that one man stands perfectly willing to help another. That's just the secret of the success of the Chicago club. Captain Anson has his players well in hand. He makes them companionable, treats one man no better than another, and always tries to make them very best of friends.

One reason for the failure of other clubs, is the ill feeling in the ranks. Base ball players sometimes are as difficult to handle as actors. One player discovers another receives a few dollars more salary than he receives. He thinks he is far more valuable to the club, and he goes to the manager and tells him what he thinks. The manager tries to pacify him, but doesn't succeed. The player begins to be jealous, then he makes up his mind to let the club "hustle for itself." He will play for himself, and play for a record. Another player may have another slight grievance, and he also goes to the manager. The latter does the best he can, but he cannot perform impossible things; the result is, there is another dissenting element in the club; there is another record player. It's little things of this sort which makes the "grand stand player." They make impossible catchers, and when they get the ball they roll all over the field.

Is it necessary to do this latter feat?

Well, sometimes it is, and sometimes it isn't.

As a rule, it is done just to win the applause of the grand stand. I have no regard for such players. Possibly because I cannot perform the "feat" myself. It's a pretty difficult matter for me to catch a high fly, anyway. I never practiced the rolling on the ground part of it. If I did, I have an idea that I would drop the ball, and then the "grand stand" would make it very warm for me for a few moments.

You can depend upon it, that it takes just nine healthy, peaceable men, who are playing together, for each other and for the good of the club they work for, to win a game of ball.

I have seen clubs in that condition. When the Chicago club came to Boston, at near the close of the season of 1883, we found the Bostons in this condition. The home club was playing a faultless game. They were in great trim. They were batting well, playing a great fielding game, ran bases in good shape, and had a get-there air of confidence which would demoralize almost any club. On the other hand, the Chicagos were pretty well broken up. "Silver" Flint had a broken finger, and couldn't catch. I was also troubled with a broken finger, and every time I caught a ball it seemed as though my right hand would drop off. Neither Corcoran nor Goldsmith were in good condition, and they didn't pitch anywhere near the game they were capable of doing. Anson went in to catch, and so did Williamson. When we came to Boston, we had only ten games to play: four in Boston, three in
Providence, and three in New York. We led the league by four games. We knew that if we finished in Boston all right, that we would make a strong fight for the pennant. Anson never encouraged the boys so in his life. But we had a good nine, in great condition, to oppose us, and we couldn't do impossible things. The Boston nine was made up of Whitney and Buffinton, pitchers; Hines and Hackett, catchers; Morrill, Burdock and Sutton, on the bases; Wise, short-stop; while Hornung, Smith and Radford were in the right field.

What great excitement there was on the South End grounds those closing days. How the boys did guy Anson, and I came in for my share of it. I never thought then that I would at a future time be a member of the nine I was fighting against, tooth and nail.

It was a good nine, and the games were won for several reasons: one, because the Chicagos were pretty well broken up; the wonderful pitching of big Jim Whitney and Buffinton; and the most important reason of all, because the Bostons played better ball and made more runs. Guess that's the best way out of it. You all know how great the excitement was in Boston, at the time. Boston deserved the honor. The boys won that pennant fairly and squarely. We accepted defeat like philosophers, and made up our minds to even things up at some future day. Well, the four games we lost at Boston, demoralized us. We couldn't do anything with New York or Providence, and that settled it.

I had a very curious experience with a Boston gambler at that time, which is worth recalling now. This fellow came to me in the corridor of the United States Hotel the night after the first game.

"Kelly," he said, "I have it on pretty good authority that Chicago is going to throw the championship to Boston this year. Is it so?"

I looked at him for a moment, and thought perhaps that he was joking. I sized him up, and then said to him:

"You had better ask Anson. He knows more about it than I do."

"Look here, Kelly," the fellow replied, "what Anson knows in regard to this affair, doesn't matter. You fellows can win it, if you want to. There isn't any doubt about that, in my mind. Now, I'm in this thing to make money, and I am willing to help you do the same. I understand that you are to catch in the coming games. If you will promise me that the Bostons will win, I will give you $2,500. You can fix the pitchers."

The proposition stunned me for a moment. Anson was in the office. I called him over, and told him what the man had said. He just stood there like a dummy, but looked as though he would like to be present somewhere else. I thought Anson would get mad, but he didn't. He said, "My friend, you cannot buy the Chicago club. There isn't money enough in Boston for that. Now, I will give you a straight tip. If we can win, we are going to. We're going to make the great fight of our lives. I heard, on the very best authority, tonight, that the Bostons were going to do the same thing. One thing I will admit. This week settles whether it will be Boston and Chicago, or Chicago and Boston. Good-night, sir. I'll play you a game of billiards, Kel."
The man looked as though he wished he were dead.

A great many people in this lovely country of ours, have an idea that the gamblers run base ball, and that a player can easily be bought, one way or the other. This is the most absurd idea imaginable. To be sure, there is more or less betting in every game which attracts sporting men. You will find this the ease, from the third-class races at Clifton to the swell races of the Country Club. But on one thing I will risk everything I have in the world: there is no dishonesty about base ball.

The games are played for all they are worth; and of the many players at present in the league, I am sure there is not one dishonest one. There may have been a few in the past. Let us thank God that there are none in the present, and hope that there won't be in the future.

The various base ball managers throughout the country pay a large sum of money annually to their players. They pay enough for them to be honest. They are honest. Any time you ever hear a man speak about base ball, and say that it is a dishonest game, you can set him down as being either a fool or an idiot.

This is gospel truth.

Before proceeding any further, I want to tell you a little incident which occurred coming from New York to Washington, some time since. I sat with a friend, a few seats in the rear of a young man who was made up as a dude. A little five-year-old boy sat with his mother on the opposite side of the pull-man.

"What does you call him, mamma?"

"That, my child, is a young man."

"Isn't dat what you call a dude, mamma?"

"Hush, my child; yes, that's a dude."

"So, 'ees a dude, mamma? But, mamma, who made him?"

"Hush, hush, my child; God made him."

"Oh! yes. Mamma, God likes to have fun, sometimes, doesn't he?"

This isn't base ball, but, like what I've said about the men who wager money on ball games, it's gospel truth. Marshal P. Wilder has already claimed this story as his.

 

 

Chapter IX

I shall not attempt to tell of how games were won season after season. Some day, perhaps, I shall. Even if I felt disposed to do so now, it would require a book almost three times the size of the one I am presenting to the public. Then the championship games are of such a recent date, that many of you know almost as much about them as the author of this book.

I have several times referred to the Boston club, and to the Modern Athens. While a member of the Chicago club, I always held a high opinion of the Hub, and of the boys who played ball in its club.

It was a strange fact, but nevertheless a true one, that Boston always played a stronger game against Chicago than any club in this country. I have, on a number of occasions, tried to find a satisfactory meaning for this, but after considerable thought, finally arrived at several conclusions.

To begin with, there was always great rivalry between the two clubs. Boston might play a miserable game in Boston, with some of the weakest clubs in the league. The next week, or the next day, perhaps, Chicago would come along and expect to win an easy series of victories. Well, the Chicago club would have to fight every inch of the game to win, if they did win.

Some of the most exciting games I ever participated in were played in Boston. Many and many a time have the Boston boys been all broken up before the arrival of the Chicago nine, but somehow or other they would brace up sufficiently to give Anson and his men a very warm welcome, indeed.

It was the same in Chicago. The White Stockings might be playing bad ball until Boston would arrive. Then they would go on the field and play a perfect game. Why, it would be almost impossible to get a ball by that infield, even if it was shot forth from the mouth of a cannon.

I have another reason for the fine play between these two clubs. You see, the people who go to the ball grounds enter into the spirit of the game. They make up their minds to see some fun when Boston and Chicago come together. Well, they generally see it. They expect and want lots of kicking. They generally get it, some time or other before the game closes. They want to do lots of shouting, and they have their way. They encourage the players, especially the home players, at every possible opportunity. A play that wouldn't receive any attention with another club, is greeted with hearty cheers if the play is against Chicago.

What is the result?

The men play better ball on both sides. The home players are on the qui vive, and play all the ball they know how. The visiting players get mad, because they have an idea that they should get a little of the applause. Well, they just grit their teeth, and swear under their breaths that they are going to win the game, anyhow. So, you see, it's a pretty even thing, any way you look at it. As a result, the public see some wonderfully good games of ball.
I have talked with John Morrill several times about this. He holds a similar opinion to mine. He says Boston always plays a better game against Chicago than against any other city. On the other hand, I know that Chicago, even when broken up, will play a strong game with Boston. For one, I am very glad that there is such a strong rivalry between the two cities. It adds interest to the games, and makes them as exciting to the men on the field as
to the spectators.

I always had a regard for Boston, and the people who saw the games in the Hub. This was on account of the treatment I always received at the South End grounds. Sometimes, perhaps, I would be "guyed" as strongly even as Anson, but, as a rule, I always received the very best treatment. This is saying a great deal, considering the fact that I was a member of a visiting club, and had the reputation of being a tricky man on the field. How a Boston audience would shout and roar, with mingled feelings of anger and joy, when I would cut the third bag on my way home. It almost reminded one of hundreds of insane people let loose. Yet, if I made a good play in the next inning, it would be greeted with shouts of honest applause. In that respect, Boston leads the base ball cities of the country. The spectators are more fair minded, and will applaud the visiting players heartier than in any other city in this country. I've been to them all, and know just what I'm talking about. It's a great city. It's a great base ball city. I am more than proud to be a member of the Boston nine. It makes me happy to feel that I'm Kelly of Boston, instead of Kelly of somewhere else.

I never imagined, however, that I would be a member of the Boston nine. Yet, at the close of the season of 1886, I had some trouble with the Chicago management. I felt that Messrs. Spalding & Co. had not treated me fairly. I told President Spalding as much when the season closed. He smiled, and regarded it as a Kelly joke. He said he guessed when the next season came around he would have things so arranged that I would be a member of the Chicago club. I said to him:

"President Spalding, at the close of the season I'm going up to Hyde Park, in New York, for the winter. My brother-in-law has a farm there. If I'm not a member of some other club next season, you will find that farming is good enough for me during the summer. I will not play again in the Chicago club, under any circumstances, and don't you forget it."

Well, I meant just what I said. After leaving Mr. Spalding, almost the first man I met was Nat Goodwin, the Boston actor. Nat and I were always great friends, and had been for several years. He was playing in Chicago at the time. He invited me around to his rooms in the Palmer House. Naturally enough, I told him of the conversation I had just had with Mr. Spalding. Goodwin heard it all, and then said:

"Kel, don't play in Chicago. You stick to what you said."

"But where would be the best city for me to play?" I inquired.

"The best city in the country for you to play ball, Kel, is in Boston.

You hang out, and I will make an even bet that you will be a member of the Boston club next season."

We had quite a long conversation, and I promised Goodwin that if it could be arranged, I would gladly go to Boston the next season. I think that when Nat and his manager, George Floyd, reached Boston, they saw the Boston managers, and told them what I had said. I met Goodwin in New York in November, I think it was, and he told me it was all right. He said I would be in Boston next year, if money would buy my release. I thought it was all right then, because I didn't have any idea that so much money would be paid for the release of a player as was paid for mine.

About the 1st of December, '86, I wrote from Hyde Park to Mr. Spalding. The newspapers had been saying some pretty hard things about me, and one or two of them printed interviews with Spalding, in which he said a number of things which were more than unfair. In this letter, I told him that I would not play in Chicago; that I never had been under any obligations to the club, as I had always worked hard for what I got. I wrote again, the latter part of the month, and in return I received a letter from President Spalding, in which he denied several interviews alleged to have come from him.
For the time being, that ended our correspondence.

Without any knowledge on my part, Mr. Billings went to work on the Boston end, and began making overtures to Mr. Spalding. The latter refused the first offer of $5,000 for my release. Then Mr. Billings raised the amount to an even $9,000. Mr. Spalding replied that if he would make it $10,000, and wait until the middle of March, to give him a chance to interview the directors, he thought it would be all right. But Mr. Billings wasn't waiting. He wrote Mr. Spalding that he would give $10,000 for Kelly's release, but that the offer might be accepted at once. This offer caught Spalding, and he didn't delay any in replying, "All right."

Armed with Mr. Spalding's letter, Mr. Billings, accompanied by W. D. Sullivan, then the sporting editor of the Boston Globe, came to Poughkeepsie, N. Y., on Feb. 14, 1887. I drove over from Hyde Park, and met them at the Nelson House. I had just about one hour's talk with Mr. Billings. When he left the hotel, he had my name signed to a contract. I was a member of the Boston club, and I haven't had any reason to regret my choice. At that time I had an idea that I would rather play on the New York nine. In fact, I was offered $7,750 to get my release from Chicago, and a promise of $5,500 salary in the bargain.

Well, Spalding wouldn't allow me to go to New York, anyhow, and, on the whole, I thank him for it. It would be impossible for a man to receive better treatment than was accorded me in Boston.

A few days after all the arrangements were made, I received a characteristic letter from Mr. Spalding. It is certainly worth a place in this book, although he does rub it in to me more than he should. Mr. Spalding evidently forgot that I always worked for the interest of the Chicago club. I played ball for the nine when so ill, that to move about caused the greatest suffering. But never mind that; I'm away from the club. It won't kill either of us. As Mr. Spalding says, somebody will always spring up, and take our places when we disappear. That's gospel truth. The Chicago club got along nicely without me last year, and I got along without Chicago. But enough; here is his letter:—

Chicago, Feb. 19,1887.
M. J. Kelly, Hyde Park, N. Y.

Dear Sir:—I am in receipt of your picture, in costume and batting position, and the same has been handed to our engraver, with instructions to get out as good a cut as possible for the forthcoming Guide.

I congratulate you on the magnificent salary that I understand you will receive from the Boston club next season, and I hope you will not disappoint them, but will make yourself not only worthy of the amount that you will receive from them, but also of the very large bonus that they have paid the Chicago club for your release. I am just in receipt of a letter from Mr. Billings, from which I quote as follows:

"Kelly did not say a word against you; said the Chicago club was a good one to get money of, when wanted. Anson worked him pretty hard sometimes, when not in condition, and there is where the trouble lies, I think."

I am very glad to know that you have no personal feeling towards me, for I certainly have none towards you, and I do not believe you can truthfully say that either myself or the Chicago club have taken any advantage of you, but have always treated you right and fair. I have placed no credence in the rumors and alleged interviews, that have been published in the New York papers, from time to time, knowing, from my own experience, how these interviews are manufactured. As you will, no doubt, be captain of the Boston nine, you will find it necessary, or at least it will be advisable, to set examples to your men in the way of habits and deportment, that will be an incentive for them to follow....

Wishing you every prosperity and success in your new position, I am,

Yours truly,
G. Spalding.

 

 

[[BaseballChronology note: The book concludes on page 2.]]

 

 

 

 
 

KING

Mike 'King' Kelly, the $10,000 beauty.


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