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On This Date: New York Giants Give High Pockets Kelly Second Chance

On Aug. 4, 1917, the New York Giants selected George "High Pockets" Kelly off waivers from the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Giants had just waived Kelly themselves in late July, but were eventually very please they re-acquired the Hall of Famer.

According to his profile at the Society for American Baseball Research, High Pockets had become the object of derision on the part of the fans, and legendary manager John McGraw decided to cut him loose. The Pirates acquired Kelly to backup Honus Wagner, who was at the twilight of his career, but gave up on him after just eight games.

Kelly spent 1918 in the military service, and didn't truly re-emerge in the big leagues until 1920, but boy did he blossom when he did return to the Giants. High Pockets led the league with 94 RBI in 1920, was the home run king in 1921 with 23 long balls and also started a six-year run of hitting over .300 in '21.

The Giants ended up trading Kelly to the Cincinnati Reds in 1927 for Edd Roush, who was a Hall of Famer himself.

Kelly earned the nickname High Pockets, and was also called Long George, because he was a slender 6-foot-4. He used that long, lean frame to play an excellent first base, and is even credited with revolutionizing positioning on cut-off throws. High Pockets helped lead the Giants to World Series championships in 1921 and '22..

Remembering High Pockets Kelly today has led me to think of the current lean, struggling first baseman for the San Francisco Giants, Brandon Belt, who also has an unusual nickname. Who knows, maybe one day the man they call Baby Giraffe will have a Hall of Fame resume.