A History of Baseball In 100 Objects- #8


100 book

This is a list of objects in no particular order that define baseball’s history. They will encompass the entire history of the game up until 1994(The year they took the game away) and will be chosen due to their importance to the game, the fans, and me. I hope you enjoy the ride.



#8- “Slide Kelly Slide” America’s 1st Pop single

I wonder why Kely is misspelled on the sheet music? Maybe the writer didn’t want people to think the song was about him.

Mike “King” Kelly is in the Hall of Fame for his exploits on the field in the 19th Century. He is considered to be one of baseball’s 1st superstars. He transcended the game, contributing much to the culture of late 19th Century America.


Very dapper Mr Kelly

He is one of the 1st ballplayers to perform on the vaudeville stage. He was one of the 1st ballplayers to popularize the autograph request. And the song, “Slide Kelly Slide” was America’s 1st Pop single. Prior to the release of this little ditty, most songs were either classical, opera, or religious oriented.

In 1889 John W. Kelly wrote “Slide Kelly Slide” to be performed on stage by Miss Maggie Cline. It was an instant success. Despite the invention of the phonograph by Thomas Edison in 1877, it wasn’t until the ability to record on wax cylinders arrived in 1887 that recorded music was available for wide distribution. Right around this time the 1st commercial recordings were being released.

In August of 1891 George J Gaskin recorded 20 popular songs for commercial release, one of which was “Slide Kelly Slide”. By January of 1892 it had become the nations 1st Pop hit. Other songs recorded by Gaskin were, “Ask A Policeman”, “Down Went McGinty”, and “Four Little Curly Headed Coons”. Things were certainly different back then.

Mike Kelly paved the way for the 1st shoe contract, Wheaties endorsement, and movie deal, for a thousand baseball players. “Slide Kelly Slide” linked baseball with popular culture, and made it possible for us to enjoy the likes of “Take Me Out to The Ball Game”, “Talkin’ Baseball”,Centerfield”, and the all time classic, “Van Lingle Mungo”.

Baseball history meets Baseball Americana. Thank you Mike Kelly.

For your reading pleasure:

Slide Kelly Slide

Copyright, 1889, by Frank Harding.
Words and Music by J. W. Kelly.

I played a game of baseball, I belong to Casey’s Nine !
The crowd was feeling jolly and the weather it was fine;
An awful lot of players I think were never found
When the omnibuses landed That day upon the ground.
The game was quickly started, they sent me to the bat:
“I made two strikes” says Casey. “What are you striking at ?”
I made the third, the catcher muff’d, and to the ground it fell;
Then I ran like a devil to first base, when the game began to yell;


Slide, Kelly, slide !
Your running’s a disgrace !
Slide, Kelly, slide !
Stay there, hold your base !
If someone doesn’t steal you,
And your batting doesn’t fail you,
They’ll take you to Australia !
Slide, Kelly, slide

Second Verse

“Twas in the 2nd inning, they called me in, I think
To take the catcher’s place, while he went to get a drink;
But something was a matter sure I couldn’t see the ball
And the second one that came in, broke my muzzle, nose and all…
The crowd up in the Grand Stands: They yelled with all their might
I ran towards the Club House, I thought there was a fight,
“Twas the most unpleasant feeling, I ever felt before;
I knew they had me rattled, When the game began to roar


Third Verse

They sent me out to centerfield, I didn’t want to go;
The way my nose was swelling up, I must have been a show !
They said on me depended vict’ry or defeat,
If a blind man was to look at us, he’d know we were beat
64 to nothing ! Was the score when we got done,
And ev’ry body there but me said they had lots of fun
The news got home ahead of me, they hears I was knock’d out;
The neighbors carried me in the house and then began to shout


Slide, Kelly, slide !
Your running’s a disgrace !
Slide, Kelly, slide !
Stay there, hold your base !
If someone doesn’t steal you,
And your batting doesn’t fail you,
They’ll take you to Australia !
Slide, Kelly, slide

A History of Baseball in 100 Objects:

#1- A Bobby Murcer 1970 Topps baseball card

#2- The Baseball Hall of Fame

#3- “The Babe Bows Out”

#4- A SABR Lapel Pin

#5- A Louisville Slugger

#6- A 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle Baseball Card

#7- The 1st Catcher’s Mask

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4 Responses to A History of Baseball In 100 Objects- #8

  1. John Fogerty’s Centerfield is my all-time favorite baseball song, though definitely overplayed. I wonder if anyone will ever write a tribute song to Omar Moreno? Perhaps, “Stay Away, Moreno, Stay Away!”

  2. Kevin Graham says:

    Great song, and a very nostalgic video to go with it.

  3. verdun2 says:

    Well….Johnny Cash it isn’t.
    I recall reading somewhere that prior to the phonograph a song writer made his money off the sheet music he sold. As you say, times have changed. Nice piece, nice series.

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