Chicago Cubs: Top five catchers in club history
Chicago Cubs: King Kelly, 1880-1886
Kicking things off is one of the oldest catchers in Cubs history in King Kelly. Contrary to popular belief, that is Kelly in the picture, in a Chicago uniform. Following his trade to Boston, the uniform was altered to read ‘Boston.’
Kelly played for the Chicago White Stockings, who were associated with the Cubs and a founding charter member of the 1871 all-pro National Association of Professional Base Ball Players. Kelly himself played for the White Stockings from 1880-1886, racking up insane numbers in the process. Yes, the game was vastly different, but professional baseball is still professional baseball.
Kelly’s first season proved valuable as he played in 84 games, slashing .291/.315/.401 with a single home run and 60 RBI. He posted the time-equivalent to a 127 wRC+ and was worth 1.7 Wins Above Replacement.
Over the seven seasons as a member of the White Stockings, Kelly registered 3,072 plate appearances and finished with a career .316/.367/.453 slash line and a 149 OPS+. Kelly went on to play four seasons in Boston, three with the Beaneaters and one after Boston became the Reds in 1890. Kelly retired in 1893 at the age of 35 and will go down as one of the more obscure, but talented catchers in club history.