“A Trick Which is as Ancient as Baseball”

27 Sep

James Kennedy, the editor of The Alliance (OH) Daily Leader, in 1906, “contributed another to the growing fund of yarns about Mike ‘King’ Kelly.”

Unlike most Kelly stories of tricks sprung on the field, he was on the wrong end of this one.

Kelly

“It was a Fourth of July, back in the later 80s. Boston was playing in Cleveland, with the $20,000 pair, Clarkson and Kelly, in full bloom.”

Cleveland pounded Old Hoss Radbourn and held an 11-4 lead:

“Along about the seventh inning Kel smashed a double to left, just making second. (Cleveland second baseman) Cub (Stricker) held the ball a minute, after it was thrown in, then deliberately walked it up to the Cleveland pitcher and reached out the ball at arm’s length. The pitcher seemed to take it, walked back to the box, and began the usual series of contortions which preceded his delivery.

“Kelly took a good lead off second, Cub bringing a laugh to the fans by lock-stepping him until they were almost halfway to third. Then the little, diminutive, red-headed second baseman lifted his arm and dealt Kelly a resounding whack between the should with the ball.”

Kennedy said it took Kelly:

Cub Stricker

“(A)bout five minutes to realize that Cub had caught him on a trick which is as ancient as baseball.”

Kennedy said Kelly then, “went clear down to second to shake hands with Cub and admit that the horse was on him.”

Unlike so many stories told nearly three decades after the fact, Kennedy was right on nearly every detail.

The game did take place on the fourth of July, in 1889. The second game of a double header—Clarkson and Boston had shut out the Spiders in the first game.

In the bottom of the seventh, down seven runs, Kelly doubled, driving in Dick Johnston to make the score 11 to 5.

The Boston Globe described what happened next:

“While Mike was loafing off second, Stricker stole up to second and put his man out. The crowd yelled for a minute and Kelly then ran to the bench with his head down.”

 The Beaneaters lost the game 11 to 7.

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