George Kelly

George Lange Kelly
Inducted to the Hall of Fame in: 1973
Primary team: New York Giants
Primary position: 1st Baseman

“They called him ‘High Pockets,’ but George Kelly was more than just a colorful appellation.” —The Associated Press, 1973

A gangly 6-foot-4 infielder, George “High Pockets” Kelly reached the major leagues at 19 with the New York Giants in 1915. He established himself as a regular in the lineup by 1920, when he tied Rogers Hornsby for the National League lead with 94 RBIs.

Kelly spent his prime years with New York, where he became one of baseball’s best power hitters of the early 1920s when the Giants won four consecutive pennants. Kelly led the NL with 23 home runs in 1921, when he won his first World Series over the Yankees. Kelly won back-to-back rings when the Giants beat the Yankees in five games in the 1922 World Series.

Kelly returned to the World Series against the Yankees again in 1923 and then against the Washington Senators in 1924, but the Giants fell in six games to the Yankees and in seven to the Senators. Kelly’s 1924 season was arguably his most productive one, as he drove in 136 runs to capture his second RBI crown and finish sixth in MVP voting. With a three-homer game against the Reds in June, Kelly became the first player to hit three home runs in a game multiple times.

Kelly spent the majority of his career at first base, but Giants manager John McGraw installed him as the club’s primary second baseman for the 1925 season. Well-regarded for his defense at first base, Kelly handled the transition capably. At the plate, he led the Giants in hits and finished third in MVP voting, but the Giants finished second to the Pirates in the NL.

He moved back to first base in 1926 and hit over .300 for the sixth straight year, but the Giants finished under .500 for the first team since Kelly made his debut in 1915.

Traded to the Reds after the 1926 season for Edd Roush, Kelly spent three and a half seasons with Cincinnati. In 1929 he led the Reds in doubles (45) and RBIs (103), his fifth and final season in which he drove in at least 100 runs.

“To Frankie Frisch, he was one of the finest first baseman who ever lived,” the AP wrote upon his induction to the Hall of Fame by the Veteran’s Committee in 1973. “To Waite Hoyt, he was a dangerous man in the clutch. And to the people who vote for such things, he is a perfect choice for the Baseball Hall of Fame.”

"In 1915, I was sold to the Giants for $1,500. There was one thought in my mind. McGraw wants me. You cannot imagine the thrill I had, as did every other player picked by McGraw. Hell, boy I felt I was a giant—twelve feet tall. "
George Kelly

Career stats

Year Inducted: 1973
Primary Team: New York Giants
Position Played: 1st Baseman
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Birth place: San Francisco, California
Birth year: 1895
Died: 1984, Burlingame, California
Played for:
New York Giants (1915-1917)
New York Giants (1919-1926)
Pittsburgh Pirates (1917)
Cincinnati Reds (1927-1930)
Chicago Cubs (1930)
Brooklyn Dodgers (1932)
At BatsAB
Home RunsHR
Stolen BasesSB
Batting AverageBA
On Base %OBP
Slugging %SLG