Cubs: One has to go way to back to admire King Kelly’s versatile career
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Michael Joseph “King” Kelly was born in Troy, New York in 1857. He made his MLB debut at age 20 in 1878 with the Cubs, then called the “White Stockings.” For the next seven years, Kelly became a fan-favorite in Chicago. He was primarily an outfielder and catcher, but he played virtually every position at some point in his career.
In seven years as a Cub, Kelly played in 681 games and hit .316/.367/.453 with 33 home runs, 149 OPS+ and 728 runs scored. For three consecutive seasons from 1884-1886 he was the league leader in runs scored. He won the batting title in 1886 when he hit .388. Home runs were not nearly as common of an occurrence at the time, his career-high was 13 in 1884.
In February in 1887 he was sold to the Boston Beaneaters for $10,000. This move angered the Chicago faithful as they saw one of their best players get sold away. Most of Kelly’s remaining playing days were with Boston, as a player/manager in the American Association and PL League and ended his MLB playing career with the New York Giants.
He passed away in 1894 at the age of 36 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1945.