Chuck Klein

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Chuck Klein
Chuck Klein 1936 Goudey.jpg
Right fielder
Born: (1904-10-07)October 7, 1904
Indianapolis, Indiana
Died: March 28, 1958(1958-03-28) (aged 53)
Indianapolis, Indiana
Batted: Left Threw: Right
MLB debut
July 30, 1928 for the Philadelphia Phillies
Last MLB appearance
June 1, 1944 for the Philadelphia Phillies
Career statistics
Batting average .320
Home runs 300
Runs batted in 1,201
Teams
Career highlights and awards
Induction 1980
Vote Veterans Committee
For the author, see Chuck Klein (author).

Charles Herbert "Chuck" Klein (October 7, 1904 – March 28, 1958), nicknamed the "Hoosier Hammer", was a Major League Baseball outfielder who played for the Philadelphia Phillies (1928–33, 1936–39, 1940–44), Chicago Cubs (1934–36) and Pittsburgh Pirates (1939). He was one of the most prodigious National League sluggers in the late 1920s and early 1930s. He became the first baseball player to be named to the All-Star Game as a member of two different teams.

Biography[edit]

Early life[edit]

Klein was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, and was known as the "Hoosier Hammer." He worked in a steel mill in his youth and played semipro baseball on his own time. The St. Louis Cardinals noticed his talent and signed him to a minor-league contract. He worked his way up to the Cardinals' farm team in Fort Wayne.

After hitting 26 homers in 88 games in 1928, Klein was slated to be called up to St. Louis midway through the season. However, Baseball Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis discovered that the Cardinals owned a team in Dayton, Ohio that played in the same league as Fort Wayne. Landis ordered the Cardinals to sell off the Fort Wayne team and give up the rights to its players. The Phillies outbid the New York Yankees for Klein's services, and Klein joined the Phillies in July.

MLB career[edit]

Klein's 1933 Goudey baseball card

Klein won the NL home run title in 1929, his first full year in the majors. However, he was helped along by his teammates on the last day of the season. In this game, the Phillies faced the New York Giants. The Giants' star slugger, Mel Ott, was tied with Klein for the lead with 42. In the first game, Klein homered to put him one ahead of Ott, who was held to a single. In the second game, the Phillies' pitchers walked Ott five straight times, including once with the bases loaded.

Along with his batting prowess, Klein was also a superb defensive right fielder who still holds the single-season mark with 44 assists in 1930. In 1932, Klein led the NL in both home runs and stolen bases. No player since has led the league in both categories in the same year. In 1933 Klein won the Triple Crown (.368, 28, 120), though Carl Hubbell took MVP honors. On July 6 of that year, he also became the first Phillies player ever to bat in an All-Star Game.

Traded to the Cubs for the 1934 season, Klein was a disappointment in Chicago by his previous standards. Even so, he hit 20 and 21 HRs in two seasons and batted .301 and .293. These were far below the numbers he posted in Philadelphia, leading to claims that Klein would not have hit nearly as many homers had he not played in notoriously hitter-friendly Baker Bowl. The Phillies reacquired him two years later. On July 10, 1936, Klein became the first NL player to slug four home runs in a game in the 20th century. He remains one of only 16 players in baseball history to have accomplished the feat.

Klein went to the Pirates during the 1939 season, but was back in Philadelphia the following season. For the last five years of his career, he was a part-time player, often used as a pinch hitter. He retired after getting one hit in seven at-bats in 1944. In his 17-year career Klein batted .320, with 398 doubles, 1,201 runs batted in, 1,168 runs, 2,076 hits,74 triples, 300 home runs,a .543 career slugging avg.,and an OPS of .922.

Later life and legacy[edit]

Chuck Klein was honored alongside the retired numbers of the Philadelphia Phillies in 2001.

After retiring, he ran a bar in Philadelphia for a time. He endured some difficult financial times, largely due to a drinking problem. Eventually, a stroke damaged his nervous system and left one leg paralyzed. By 1947, Klein was living with his sister-in-law in Indianapolis, Indiana. He died there in 1958.[1] Klein was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1980. In 1999, he ranked number 92 on The Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players,[2] and was a nominee for the Major League Baseball All-Century Team.

The Phillies honored him on the outfield wall of Veterans Stadium with his name and an Old English-style "P" where a retired uniform number would go. The Phillies began using numbers in 1932, and in that season and 1933, Klein wore number 3. He was then traded to the Chicago Cubs, and when he returned to the Phillies in 1936, he wore 32 (later retired by the Phillies for Steve Carlton), and soon switched to 36 (later retired by the Phillies for Robin Roberts) for that season and 1937. In 1938 he wore number 1 (later retired by the Phillies for Richie Ashburn), wore 26 and then 14 (later retired by the Phillies for Jim Bunning) in 1939, wore 29 in 1940 and 1941, 3 again in 1942, 8 in 1943 and 26 again in 1944, his last major league season. Rather than choose one of these numbers, the Phillies simply retired a "P" for him, as they did for pre-numbers legend Grover Cleveland Alexander.

See also[edit]

Klein was inducted into the Philadelphia Baseball Wall of Fame in 1980.

References[edit]

External links[edit]