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Friday, November 18, 2011

King’s Ransom: Autograph of 19th Century Baseball Icon could fetch 100k

Kelly was the first larger-than-life pro baseball player, and many of the Elks had him autograph their programs as the evening progressed, whiskey flowed and toasts became grandiose…

One of the programs surfaced 124 years later, and it’s in mint condition. Kelly’s autograph is a rarity, and this one is perhaps the most valuable ever for a baseball player.

Many of the programs never even left the building that night. Thoroughly soused, Kelly was loaded into his carriage, normally horse-drawn. But on this night Elks and other admirers lifted the carriage and lugged it through the streets to his home…

Within two years Kelly was the subject of America’s first pop music hit, recorded on a wax cylinder and played on the phonograph Thomas Edison had invented in 1877. The song was titled, “Slide, Kelly, Slide,” which is what fans in Chicago would chant when he flew around bases in his prime. It was sung on stage by dance hall star Miss Maggie Cline and covered by numerous artists as 78 rpm records proliferated in the early 20th century, well after Kelly’s death.

Within four years he was moonlighting as a Vaudeville act, reciting “Casey at the Bat,” often substituting Kelly for Casey. His pet monkey sat on his shoulder and a beer or shot of whiskey was invariably in his hand.

Within seven years he’d drank himself out of the major leagues and was a player/manager for an Allentown, Pa., farm team. After the 1894 season he contracted pneumonia during a boat trip from New York to Boston and died Nov. 8 at age 36, leaving a wife and small child. Legend has it he slipped off a stretcher at the hospital, looked up from the ground and said, “This is my last slide.”

Bourbon Samurai Posted: November 18, 2011 at 02:18 PM | 9 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history, memorabilia

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   1. Pat Rapper's Delight Posted: November 18, 2011 at 04:59 PM (#3996578)
Kelly’s autograph is a rarity,

Really? Didn't Barry Halper have at least a couple dozen certified authentic ones?
   2. Bourbon Samurai Posted: November 18, 2011 at 05:25 PM (#3996614)
Where did he get the monkey, is what I want to know.


This inspired me to look up Kelly on B/R. He was pretty awesome.
   3. Bourbon Samurai Posted: November 18, 2011 at 05:28 PM (#3996620)
Also, how fun are his fielding stats? He was an OF/C/3B/2B/SS/P!
   4. The Long Arm of Rudy Law Posted: November 18, 2011 at 06:30 PM (#3996670)
Also, how fun are his fielding stats? He was an OF/C/3B/2B/SS/P!


Obviously he wasn't athletic enough to play 1B.
   5. Der-K is at full whelm. Posted: November 18, 2011 at 06:38 PM (#3996675)
King Kelly was awesome. If you've never read about 19th century baseball but are a little curious - check this guy out, he was a serious character.
   6. Bob Evans Posted: November 18, 2011 at 07:13 PM (#3996707)
King Kelly was awesome. If you've never read about 19th century baseball but are a little curious - check this guy out, he was a serious character.

"Kelly now catching!"
   7. winnipegwhip Posted: November 18, 2011 at 07:13 PM (#3996708)
Really? Didn't Barry Halper have at least a couple dozen certified authentic ones?


The best Halper joke I heard was told by Mickey Mantle. After his liver transplant Mantle asked if Halper had his old liver.
   8. Mom makes botox doctors furious Posted: November 19, 2011 at 09:35 AM (#3997110)
Famous last words:

Bill James: "I'm turning out the lights in the basement now, mom."
Bud Selig: "Abner, I'm coming to Cooperstown."
Billy Beane: "I'll see you upstairs, Brad."
Scott Boras: "He doesn't pay you enough, Jesus, but I'll handle it."
Rafael Palmeiro: "I'm sorry Ryne, but she was so hot."
Billy Martin: "This game's complete.."
   9. Greg Franklin Posted: November 20, 2011 at 12:58 AM (#3997554)
For some reason, they 404'd the link. Here it is, long and replanted.

King's Ransom

They bumped the expected value from $100K to $200K.

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