Tuesday Tunes: Diamond Ditty #2 – “Slide, Kelly, Slide” by George J. Gaskin

13 01 2015

Continuing one of the newer posts on this blog – “Tuesday Tunes: Diamond Ditties” – where I post about a song that has something to do with baseball!  I did a fairly random song (from a baseball perspective) with my first one of these posts.  So with the second one I decided to do a pure baseball song released 2 centuries earlier than “Royals” by Lorde…

Artist/Title/Album: “Slide, Kelly, Slide” by George J. Gaskin (1892)

Slide Kelly Slide

Description:  Performed by George J. Gaskin, a popular 1890’s Irish-born singer.  Gaskin was one of the first recording artists when the industry was starting up in the late 19th century; he recorded around 20 #1 hits.  The song puts to music a popular poem, written by Frank Harding, about one of the most famous baseball players from the 19th century – Mike “King” Kelly.

Recognition:  Given that this was one of the earliest songs in the recording industry, awards hadn’t been developed yet.  However, the song was one of the most popular of its era and is often credited as the first “#1 hit” from that time.  It’s one of the earliest recorded songs on Thomas Edison’s gramophone invention.

How it’s related to baseball:  The song is written from the perspective of a baseball fan attending a game where Mike “King” Kelly is one of the players.  Kelly, a future hall-of-famer, was the best player in baseball in the early/mid-1880’s, but was a few years past his prime when the poem and song first came out.  Kelly was the highest paid player in the game; his contract was sold from Chicago to Boston for an exorbitant sum, earning the nickname “$10,000 Kelly”. He wasn’t just a ballplayer, he was a celebrity who had a brief career as an actor before his early death in 1894.

1888 Goodwin Kelly

Kelly was known for skipping second base when the lone umpire wasn’t looking, and his baserunning antics caused fans in the stands to chant the phrase “Slide, Kelly, Slide”.  Harding eventually penned a short poem using the phrase in 1889, and Gaskin recorded the song a few years later.  It’s at times credited as the first pop song in American culture.  The song also gave rise to a movie of the same name some 35 years later (though it was about a fictitious pitcher for the 1927 Yankees).

There have been a number of re-recorded versions since.

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

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2 responses

29 11 2016
Anonymous

1st “pop song” in history? Ever hear of Stephen Foster?

29 11 2016
chuckneo

Nope.

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