July 16, 1902: The Reds sign Joe Kelley, Cy Seymour, and Mike Donlin from the AL Baltimore Orioles. Kelly became the Reds player-manager when he reported to the club on July 31.

The signing of the three players came at the geight of the bidding war between the NL and AL for star players. While the acquisition of Kelley, Seymour, and Donlin failed to make teh Reds pennant contenders, it significantly improved teh club’s fortunes. Kelley, a future HOFer who starred with the formidable Baltimore clubs of the 1890s, was past his peak but was still a productive player. He hit .277 in five seasons with the Reds.

Donlin, one of the most fascinating personalities in big league history, was in a Baltimore jail when he was signed by the Reds. In March 1902, he was sentenced to a six month term for assaulting an actress and her escort. Donlin had a .333 lifetime BA in 1050 games between 1899 and 19145, but missed several seasons because he made more money performing on the vaudeville stage than in baseball. Donlin made movies in Hollywood, playing supporting roles until his death in 1933. In three seasons wit hthe Reds, he had a BA of .342.

The key to the trade was CF Cy Seymour. In his five years in Cincinnati, he hit .332, which remains the highest career average in club history (minimum of 2000 ABs). Seymour began his career as a pitcher and led the league in walks three consecutive seasons and in strikeouts once. His nickname, Cy, was short for Cyclone – a tribute to his erratic fastball. He became a fulltime outfielder in 1901, when he was 28. With Seymour, Kelley, Donlin, and Sam Crawford on the club in 1902, the Reds probably possessed more outfield talent than any time in club history.

All “Reds trivia” posts come from Greg Rhodes and John Snyder’s fabulous book, “Redleg Journal” (see link for purchasing) and are used with Greg’s permission.

Thanks again to Greg Rhodes for permission to use his material.