Lot # 66: Rare, Stunning 1888 Mike "King" Kelly (HOF) “Play Ball” Book

Starting Bid: $1,500.00

Bids: 19 (Bid History)

Time Left: Auction closed
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Item was in Auction "Fall, 2023 Premier Auction",
which ran from 11/5/2023 12:00 AM to
11/25/2023 9:00 PM

Presented here is a rare first printing of MLB Hall of Famer Mike Kelly's baseball memoir Play Ball: Stories of the Ball Field, which was published by Emery & Hughes of Boston in 1888. This is one of perhaps 10 rare, surviving examples, according to most baseball historians. This is significant as it is the first ever memoir of a baseball player. Play Ball is a series of anecdotes and memories by the one-time Boston Beaneaters player Mike "King" Kelly. One of the game’s early innovators who played various positions over 16 seasons including right field, catcher and third base, Kelly popularized such techniques as the hook slide, hit and run, and the idea that players could intentionally foul a ball in order to build up the pitch count. He was idolized by baseball followers, and was inducted into Cooperstown in 1945 by the Veterans (now Era) Committee. First editions of this book are considered extremely scarce, and this example is easily one of the finest we have ever seen, with a clean cover boasting a woodcut portrait of the Hall of Famer. Some light cover wear is present in the form of soiling with only a few areas of creasing or wrinkling. The spine remains intact, the front and back covers both present and the interior pages are well-preserved. A tremendous example of an extremely rare book.

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