The American Game: Baseball and Ethnicity

By Lawrence Baldassaro; Richard A. Johnson | Go to book overview

4
“Slide, Kelly, Slide”:
The Irish in American Baseball

RICHARD F. PETERSON

Baseball historians have long recognized the ascendancy of Irish players in the early history of baseball. By the end of the nineteenth century, Irish stars dominated baseball and its greatest teams. The legendary Baltimore Orioles, managed by Ned Hanlon, won consecutive National League pennants in 1894, 1895, and 1896 with Hall of Famers Big Dan Brouthers, Hugh Jennings, and John McGraw in the infield and Joe Kelley and Wee Willie Keeler in the outfield. A decade earlier, so many New York Irish fans came out to see the stellar pitching of Tim Keefe and Smiling Mickey Welch, both winners of more than three hundred games in their professional careers, and the slugging of “the Mighty Clouter” Roger Connor, the Babe Ruth of his day, that the bleachers at the Polo Grounds were called “Burkeville.” At other ballparks, the Irish sat in “Kerry Patches” to watch the colorful Mike “King” Kelly, generally regarded as the most popular baseball player of the nineteenth century. A. G. Spalding's sale of Kelly in 1887 from the Chicago National White Stockings to the Boston Beaneaters for the unheard-of price of ten thousand dollars was the biggest and most controversial deal of the era. Kelly's baserunning was so spectacular and his behavior on and off the field so flamboyant that he inspired the popular song “Slide, Kelly, Slide” and often performed on the vaudeville stage to packed houses during the off-season.

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The American Game: Baseball and Ethnicity
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Other Books in the Writing Baseball Series ii
  • Title Page v
  • Contents ix
  • Illustrations xi
  • Foreword xiii
  • Acknowledgments xv
  • 1: Introduction 1
  • 2: The Many Fathers of Baseball 6
  • 3: German Americans in Major League Baseball 27
  • 4: [Slide, Kelly, Slide] 55
  • 5: Unreconciled Strivings 68
  • 6: Before Joe D 92
  • 7: From Pike to Green with Greenberg in Between 116
  • 8: Diamonds Out of the Coal Mines 142
  • 9: The Latin Quarter in the Major Leagues 162
  • 10: Baseball and Racism's Traveling Eye 177
  • Contributors Index 197
  • Contributors 199
  • Index 201
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