“Play Ball”

Stories from the Diamond Field and Other Historical Writings about the 19th Century Hall of Famer


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About the Book

If Cap Anson was baseball’s first star, King Kelly was the first player whose celebrity extended beyond the diamond. The dashing mustachioed Kelly was a favorite of newspapermen, who lionized him as “King of the Diamond” and “The $10,000 Beauty”; of fans, who celebrated his daring in song (“Slide, Kelly, Slide”) and his grace in poetry (“Beautiful Mike”); and certainly of the baseball establishment, which was willing to pay outrageous sums for his services. Off the field, he pursued an interest in acting, and played parts in a number of theatrical productions. And in 1888, reacting to what he described as the bookishness of his new baseball home in Boston, Kelly even tried his hand at writing.
Play Ball: Stories from the Diamond Field was the first-ever memoir by a player. One of the most popular baseball titles of all time, Play Ball is a casual, often humorous stroll through Kelly’s ball-playing past, with chapters on the teams he played for, the men he played alongside, his relationships with baseball figures such as Anson and Albert Spalding, his early involvement with John Ward’s Brotherhood, his legendary contract with the Beaneaters, and his barnstorming adventures in the South and West.

About the Author(s)

Hall of Famer Mike “King” Kelly was widely acknowledged as the greatest player of his day. He died in 1894 at the age of 36.

Bibliographic Details

Mike “King” Kelly. Series Editors Gary Mitchem and Mark Durr
Format: softcover (6 x 8)
Pages: 220
Bibliographic Info: 14 photos, appendices, index
Copyright Date: 2006
pISBN: 978-0-7864-2363-7
Imprint: McFarland
Series: The McFarland Historical Baseball Library

Table of Contents

Editors’ Note      ix

“Play Ball”: Stories of the Diamond Field      1

Appendix A: “Base Running” by M.J. Kelly, 1884      89

Appendix B: “King Kelly, the Famous Catcher” by Billy Boxer      99

Appendix C: “Slide, Kelly, Slide!” Sheet Music and Lyrics      143

Appendix D: The One and Only Kell: Articles, Anecdotes and Game Accounts, 1885–1938      151

Index      207

Book Reviews & Awards

“One of the best but least-heralded developments in the recent history of baseball literature was the inauguration of the McFarland Historical Baseball Library in 2003”—Spitball; “invaluable McFarland Historical Baseball Library series. McFarland has served baseball fans everywhere by bringing Kelly’s voice back to life”—Edward Achorn, The Providence Journal.