Name Cincinnati Reds IV (Kelly's Killers)
Operated 1891
Leagues American Association
Ballparks East End Park
Championships None
1891 Amer. As. 102 43 57 2 .430 6    
Mike Kelly's Reds team, whose known today as the Cincinnati Kelly's Killers, was born under rather strange circumstances. The west side Cincinnati Reds had played in the American Association from 1882 to 1889 before moving into the National League for the 1890 season. After the 1890 season the club was teetering on bankruptcy. The National League Reds were then sold to Frank Brunell and Albert Johnson, who planned to move their club from the National League to the Players League. The Players League was a third major league that competed against the National League and American Association in 1890. When the Players League called it quits before the 1891 season, the Association began to court the Cincinnati Reds new owners. The courting worked and the Reds planned to rejoin the American Association, their former league, rather than continue play in the National League for the 1891 season.

Meanwhile, Charles Prince, who owned the Players League pennant-winning Boston Reds was shifting his team from the folded Players League into the American Association. In doing so, he decided to unload his star player, catcher Mike "King" Kelly, to the Cincinnati Reds. Kelly had threatened to leave the Boston Reds and return to play in Cincinnati where he began his career, so Kelly had no problem with this move.

With the Reds moving back to the American Association, the National League decided to put a new team in Cincinnati. The new club would replace the failed Indianapolis Hoosiers franchise in the National League. The new Cincinnati club would be headed by John T. Brush, who was president of the Hoosiers in 1887.

Now here's where the situation gets tricky. For reasons unknown, the new owners of the Cincinnati Reds, Frank Brunell and Albert Johnson, sold the Reds back to the National League for $30,000 dollars after paying $40,000 for the club a few months prior. John T. Brush would eventually take control of the Reds since he was promised a Cincinnati franchise by the National League. The club had been committed to three different major leagues during this crazy off season, but ultimately they stayed put in the National League.

The move was a crushing blow for the dying American Association. They had lost the Reds and needed to fill the void, so the Association installed a new Cincinnati franchise to replace the Reds. When all was said and done Cincinnati would have two major league franchises competing during the 1891 baseball season. The new Cincinnati franchise would also retain the rights of Mike Kelly to manage the club.

While historically this franchise is referred to as "Kelly's Killers", the fact of the matter is that the club's real nickname was the Reds. More often then not the newspapers referred to Mike Kelly's club as such, giving Cincinnati not only two major league teams in one year but two major league teams with the same nickname. Only on a handful of occasions was the club ever referred to as Kelly's "killers" during the club's existence.

The ownership of the AA Reds was Chris von der Ahe who also owned the St. Louis Browns. This fellow was a truly colorful character. A large man with a bushy mustache and exaggerated German accent, Von der Ahe was the first baseball owner with a significant public persona. He would sit in a special box behind third base with a whistle and binoculars. He used the whistle to get the attention of players or, maybe, for someone to get him a beer. He was a perfect fit for Cincinnati. Furthermore, he hired Ban Johnson, the gentleman who eventually formed the American League, to work in the front office as the club's Sporting Life correspondent. Von der Ahe also hired former major league manager Frank Bancroft to be the AA Reds business manager.

Ownership began looking for a place for the team to play. The Avenue Grounds, which was located a few miles north of the National League Reds League Park, was subject to an option by the NL club and was not available. So the AA Reds had to look elsewhere. With vacant lots in the city being few and far between, the AA Reds would have to look towards the outskirts of the city. They explored the Full Mile Driving Park in Oakley, a piece of property known as the Woodruff Estate in Clifton, and even grounds in Covington, Kentucky near the Licking River. But plans for all sites were scrapped. Ownership settled for the Pendleton Grounds in East End. 

Transportation to the site was highly inconvenient. Coming from the city, people had to take a lengthy steamboat ride down the Ohio River. By way of land, spectators could either take a fifteen to twenty-five minute train ride from the corner of Broadway Street and Court Street, now called East Court Street, or from the foot of Vine Street over the Front Street connection track. A connection track was a wooden viaduct between the river and the riverfront buildings, and Front Street was located where modern day Mehring Way runs.

The inconvenient location of the AA Reds ballpark and the fact that the team did not play all that well on the field hurt the club tremendously. Ticket sales were dismal, the east-side Reds draw for the season was a dreadful 63,000, which was the lowest in the major leagues. The club was going nowhere fast, but ownership refused to call it quits. They explored building a new ballpark on the west side of Cincinnati for the 1892 baseball season, but after many discussions by league leaders the AA Reds ownership decided to suspend the team. After an apathetic 8-0 loss to the St. Louis Browns on August 17, the east-side Reds would cease operations with a final season record of 43-57. With 34 games remaining on their schedule, the Milwaukee Brewers of the Western League stepped in and played out the Reds remaining games.

The American Association had planned to reactivate the franchise in Cincinnati for the 1892 baseball season, but the league eventually decided to merge four of their franchises into the National League. St. Louis, Baltimore, Washington & Louisville all shifted to the senior circuit, and of those four teams only the St. Louis club survived into the modern era.

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