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On November 27, 1887, during their celebrated West Coast tour, the National League powerhouse N.Y. Giants suited up against the California League champion San Francisco Pioneers. With five future Hall of Famers on the Giants roster, the match-up should’ve been a forgettable rout. Instead, Pioneer ace Eddie Lorrigan held Monte Ward, Buck Ewing and company to just five hits as the Giants squeaked out an exciting 1-0 victory. A cameo from Boston Beaneater star King Kelly—whose unheard-of $10,000 contract had made headline news nationwide—was the tour’s main attraction. He graces the cover of this California League Score Book from the game, and an interior advertisement heralds the fleet-footed batsman like a messiah: "Coming! Coming!! MIKE KELLY - The $10,000 Beauty. DON’T FAIL TO SEE HIM!" Other ads evoke the innocence of the era with come-ons for Gypsy Queen, Old Judge, sporting goods, watches, bookbinding, billiard tables and bicycles ("After the Game go To the Golden Gate Cyclery - Bicycle, Tricycle or Tandem - For Hire by the Hour in the Park"). There are also statistical biographies for Kelly, Ward, Ewing, Michael Tiernan, Tim Keefe, Roger Connor, William Brown, Daniel Richardson and Jerry Denny. Preservation-wise, the 10-1/8" x 6-3/4" program must have been under meticulous safekeeping to have endured its 125 years without any major creases, wrinkles, rips, lost pages or other damage of significance. The only wear to speak of are minor edge chips and a few tiny, barely noticeable sealed edge tears. This despite the delicate survivor having been printed on newsprint-style paper, which rather than turn yellow and brittle—as is so often the case—has thankfully managed to maintain the freshness of a modern-day newspaper. What’s more, the text and images could hardly be bolder, and the unscored score card inside is unimprovably pristine. Finally, as a historical side note, it is speculated by many that King Kelly may have been the inspiration for baseball’s most famous poem, "Casey at the Bat." Author Ernest Lawrence Thayer covered the tour as a writer for the San Francisco Examiner, and he published his tale of the supposedly fictitious Mudville Nine the very next year.
Rare 1887 New York Giants Transcontinental Tour California League Program Featuring King Kelly
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