John Kelly (kellyjo01)
John Francis Kelly
(Honest John or Father)
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 0", Weight 185 lb.
- Debut June 7, 1879
- Final Game October 19, 1884
- Born March 3, 1859 in Paterson, NJ USA
- Died April 13, 1908 in Paterson, NJ USA
John Kelly, nicknamed "Honest John" and "Father Kelly", played four seasons in the majors, for five teams, in three leagues. He was primarily a catcher.
Another "Honest John Kelly", a famous umpire of the time, was a different person. That one is said to have been John C. Kelly, and he was older, beginning play in 1871, so this John Kelly may have been nicknamed after that John Kelly. That said, this John Kelly did work three games as an umpire in the Union Association in 1884, the league's only season.
Sporting Life of May 2, 1908 remembered his career after he died. It said Kelly caught The Only Nolan in 1880 in the California State League. After baseball he ran a successful liquor business. He was the son of a politician, and he never married. Funeral services were held at a Roman Catholic church, so perhaps the nickname "Father Kelly" came from his religion and perhaps also his bachelorhood.