Summer Premier Auction 2019

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Mike "King" Kelly was an important player, manager and baseball innovator in the late 1800s. Later inducted into the Hall of Fame by the Veteran’s committee, the catcher and outfielder is credited with popularizing strategies such as the hit-and-run, the hook slide, and catchers backing up first base. He earned the nickname “$10,000 Kelly” when he was sold by the Chicago White Stockings (owned by A.G. Spalding) to the Boston Beaneaters for $10,000 following the 1886 season, an enormous sum back then.

When his baseball card was first issued late in 1887, Old Judge only had images of Kelly in a Chicago uniform. The vast majority of King Kelly’s Old Judge N172 cards (in various poses) that were ultimately produced show him in a Boston uniform. According to SGC's pop report, a total of 66 "King Kelly" examples (in all poses) have been encapsulated. It is safe to conclude that the 12 "Mike Kelly" examples in SGC's database refer to the much scarcer "Chicago" and/or portrait versions, of which this offered “No Cap” SGC 55 VG-EX+ 4.5 example comes in as the second highest graded with only two rated higher. According to PSA's pop report, only three "Portrait, Chicago on shirt" versions have ever been encapsulated (all either PR 1 or GD 2); of those three, only one is this "Bare Head" version so described on their site (other two are "In Cap"). In other words, this is a super rare card in a an almost impossible mid-grade condition.

The portrait pose, featuring King Kelly in Chicago attire with “$10,000 Kelly,” is among the most coveted of the thirty-nine different players with popular Old Judge portrait cards. This one is well-centered and crease-free with strong image quality. Three of the edges remain very smooth and three of the corners are quite sharp; only the bottom left edge and corner show light scuffing and slight rounding. As is often the case with Old Judges, the contrast is a bit light, but this one compares very favorably to most, and is very clean front and back. A terrific example of one of Kelly's most impressive cards, and a world-class example of one of the scarcest and most coveted Hall of Famer poses in the ground-breaking Old Judge set. Records show this the first public offering of this "Chicago Portrait, No Cap" card in equal or better grade since 2010!

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Minimum Bid: $1,000
Current Bid: $1,612
Number Bids: 6
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