Tag Archives: Edward Talcott

“One of the Saddest Spectacles I have Seen”

30 Mar

King Kelly made his New York stage debut at the Imperial Music Hall in January of 1893.

The Brooklyn Citizen said he was being paid $250 a week “to succumb to the fever of the theatrical stage.”

The New York Herald described the moment Kelly took the stage:

“He was hailed with cheers the instant he stepped before the footlights…It was the first time the Gotham baseball cranks had heard the former king of the right field sing, and they clapped their hands and stamped their feet in jubilation…His friends said that his first dip into the uncertain sea of theatrical life was a success.”

thingskellystage

A less generous syndicated review appeared in newspapers across the Midwest and West under the headline:

“King Kelly As A Star”

The article said:

“Kelly is a very handsome man and that particular has a very good stage presence.”

The “principal event” of Kelly’s performance was to recite Ernest Thayer’s “Casey at the Bat.”

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Ad for Kelly’s New York appearances 

His delivery of Thayer’s poem was not a hit with the nameless author of the piece:

“Kelly is probably as near to being king of the national game as any man, but he has thus far failed to solve theatrical curves.

“As an elocutionist Kelly undoubtedly fans the air as successfully as Casey did when he left no joy in Mudville by striking out.”

By the time Kelly took to the stage, Actor DeWolf Hopper had made “Casey” a well-known poem, having performed it throughout the country on vaudeville stages:

“When one has heard Hopper describe Casey’s unfortunate adventure, comparison between Hopper’s effort and that of Kelly naturally follows. Hopper’s performance is a work of art. One can almost see Casey as the comedian describes how he rubbed his hands with dust and wiped them on his baseball shirt preparatory to knocking out a 3-bagger. Kelly’s effort is without spirit, and the umpire says, ‘strike two’ as calmly as if there were several dozen left before Casey could possibly succeed in striking out.”

The writer allowed that Kelly was better in the portion of the show where he sang with his stage partner Billy Jerome.

A reporter for The New York World provided a more positive take:

“Kelly, the king of the ball-tossers, made a three-bagger. He hit one or two staccato notes so hard that he drove them through the skylights. The bleachers up in gallery shouted and howled until they grew red in the face. The cohorts down in the grandstand applauded. In the meantime, the umpire down in the orchestra waved his baton frantically and called Kelly safe. Mike was not a thing of beauty, but he made the hit of the season. Of course, Mike has not the voice of (Italian Tenor Francesco) Tamagno. Neither has Tamagno the make-up of Kelly.”

The World noted Kelly was “deluged” with floral arrangements from the likes of Tammany Hall boss and former Congressman “Honest” John Kelly and racetrack owner Phil Dwyer who sent “a sleigh of roses and carnations,” to former Giants owners John B. Day and Edward Talcott, who presented Kelly with “a floral wreath with ‘king’ in big letters woven around it,” to “Teddy Foley and the Bowery House Chowder Club,” who sent six “floral baseball bats.”

Kelly’s most scathing review came the week before he opened in New York; the “Boston Correspondent” for The Fall River Daily Herald, caught Kelly when he appeared at Boston’s Howard Athenaeum:

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Ad for Kelly’s Boston run

“One of the saddest spectacles I have seen for some time I beheld in a theater here one evening this week. M.J. Kelley, the $10,000 beauty, engaged in making a show of himself, trying to be an actor, inflicting the public with a sample of his vocal powers, was a sight calculated to make men weep. What on earth Kelly is doing on the stage I cannot see. What excuse he has for the act is beyond imagination. As a ballplayer he was a success, but as an actor is is as dismal a failure as it is possible to conceive…He stands up awkwardly as a manikin and moves with the grace of a wooden Indian”

Hughie Jennings’ “Doctor”

10 Dec

On October 6, 1898, Hughie Jennings, who, for the fifth straight season was the National League’s leading hits batsman, faced Jouett Meekin, the New York Giants’ notoriously wild pitcher —Meekin hit 89 batters in nine major league seasons and walked 1056 while striking out 901.

Hughie Jennings

Hughie Jennings

The New York Times said:

“Meekin began the game by hitting (John) McGraw on the head.  It was only a glancing blow, however.  Jennings followed McGraw, and the first ball pitched struck him on the nose, breaking it.  Jennings, after he was hit, staggered and then fell.  It was a swift in-curve, and the players on both teams rushed to the plate thinking he had been fatally injured”

The concern was warranted.  In June of 1897 Jennings was hit in the head with a pitch thrown by Meekin’s’ teammate Amos Rusie during the first inning of a game.  While the Rusie beaning was serious, it was likely not as serious as some sources claim–it has been said he was unconscious for three or four days, and near death.  These claims are belied by contemporary news reports, as early as the next day that said, while serious, the injury was neither life-threatening nor caused a days-long coma.

A newspaper rendering of Jennings' beaning by Rusie. The catcher is Jack Warner, Hank O'Day is the umpire.

A newspaper rendering of Jennings’ beaning by Rusie. The catcher is Jack Warner, Hank O’Day is the umpire.

The New York Sun:

“Last night the doctor said he was suffering from a slight concussion of the brain and a temporary paralysis of the right arm, but he declared his injuries would not prove serious and that Jennings would be able to play again in a few days.”

Jennings was back in the Orioles lineup in a week.

Still, there was reason for concern, Jennings had been hit by nearly 200 pitches since 1894, and according to The Sun, “his face was covered in blood.”  The previous season he had “pluckily continued in the game” after the Rusie beaning, until the second inning; this time he was immediately taken to the clubhouse.

It was there that his broken nose was attended to in an unusual way.

Enter John Joseph “Dasher” Troy, a major league infielder in 1880s, a member of the 1884 American Association champion New York Metropolitans.

Dasher Troy

Dasher Troy

In 1891, Troy had been granted a liquor concession, “running the bar under the grandstand” at the Polo Grounds.  Three years later The Sun said Giants owner Edward Talcott “quietly ousted Troy,” after the former player’s “attack on a grandstand gatekeeper and his threatened attack on Mr. Talcott.”

Despite being ousted from the business, Troy remained a fixture at Giants games—and would eventually reclaim the business after Talcott sold his interest in the Giants to Andrew Friedman, running it until 1900.

The New York Telegraph picks up the story:

“(Troy) was at the Polo Grounds when Jennings, of the Baltimores, had his nose broken by a pitched ball. Jennings was assisted to the clubhouse and a physician summoned.  The ‘Dasher’ followed in after the doctor, and pushing the latter aside, said to Jennings:

“‘Hughie, will you let me fix that for you?’

“Hughie looked embarrassed and said:

‘Yes, Dash, but here’s the doctor.’

“’Oh, to hell with him,’ answered Johnny, with his usual impetuosity.  “I can fix that nose in two minutes.  I have fixed noses before, and broken ‘em too,’ said Troy as he threw out his chest and glanced severely at the doctor.

“’Here boy, go out and get me a couple of pebbles.’

“The (doctor) brought back two small stones, and Troy put one on each side of Jennings’ injured nasal organ, and began to press.  The damaged nose was one sided, the cartilage being badly out of place.  Jennings said he could feel the grating as Troy gradually pressed on the stones and, sure enough, when the pebbles were removed the nose was as straight as it ever was.

“’There,’ said Troy, looking again fiercely at the doctor, ‘could you do better that that?  You doctors make me tired.’

“The doctor, however, when he had collected himself, said Jennings had better go to a hospital for further treatment, apparently not being fully satisfied with Troy’s treatment, or possibly his winning ways.

“Jennings did not follow the doctor’s advice that night, but (the following day) he went to Mt. Sinai Hospital.  A physician then examined the injured nose, felt of it carefully and said:

“’There is nothing out of place there.  Who set it for you?’

“’Oh, some doctor up at the Polo grounds,’ answered Jennings.

“’Well, said the hospital physician, ‘I never saw a cleaner or better piece of work in my life.”

Regardless of having his nose successfully fixed by Troy, Jennings’ all-time record for being by pitches 287 times took a toll.  He had turned 30 years-old just a month before the 1888 broken nose, but only played more than 100 games  once more—in 1900—and was, essentially finished as a player by 1902.

Another story about Jennings’ “doctor” Dasher Troy on Friday