Kluszewski in 1954.
September 10, 1924|
|Died: March 29, 1988
|Batted: Left||Threw: Left|
|April 18, 1947 for the Cincinnati Reds|
|Last MLB appearance|
|October 1, 1961 for the Los Angeles Angels|
|Runs batted in||1,028|
|Career highlights and awards|
Theodore Bernard "Big Klu" Kluszewski (September 10, 1924 – March 29, 1988) was a popular American Major League Baseball (MLB) player. A first baseman, he played on 4 teams for 15 seasons, 1947 through 1961. In 1959, his power hitting helped the Chicago White Sox team clinch the American League Pennant. He was a National League (NL) All-Star for four seasons.
In 1962, he was inducted into the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame and Museum. Kluszewski was of Polish descent.
Early life and professional career 
Due to wartime travel restrictions, the Cincinnati Reds, who normally held spring training in Tampa, Florida, were forced to train at the university from 1943 to 1945. Kluszewski drew the attention of Reds' groundskeeper Matty Schwab. Schwab saw Kluszewski hitting balls over an embankment near the baseball diamond that none of the other Reds players was able to get near. Cincinnati Reds scouts were sufficiently impressed, but Kluszewski, who was also a standout tight end on the Hoosier football squad, did not immediately sign, because he didn't want to endanger his collegiate football eligibility. Instead, he signed after he graduated in 1946. After batting .325 and .377 in two minor league seasons, he was called up to Cincinnati in 1947 and became the Reds' starting first baseman at the end of 1948.
Major League 
Cincinnati Reds / Cincinnati Redlegs 
Soon after the 6'-2" (1.89 m), 240-pound (108.8 kg) Ted Kluszewski joined the Reds in 1947, he cut off the sleeves of his uniform, much to the chagrin of the Reds front office. He did it because the tight sleeves constricted his large biceps and shoulders and interfered with his swing. "They got pretty upset, but it was either that or change my swing — and I wasn't about to change my swing", said Kluszewski. Kluszewski became notorious for his strength; Hall of Fame manager Leo Durocher was asked to name five of the strongest players in baseball, he complied. When it was pointed out that he'd left Ted Kluszewski off his list, Durocher said: "Kluszewski? I'm talking about human beings!"
Kluszewski was named to the National League All-Star roster 1953 through 1956, and was a career .298 hitter with 279 home runs and 1028 RBI in 1718 games. In ten of his fifteen seasons, Kluszewski walked (492) more often than he struck out (365). In 1955, he hit 47 homers while striking out only 40 times. No player since him has hit 40 homers and struck out 40 or fewer times in the same season (Barry Bonds missed duplicating this feat by one strikeout in 2004).
"Big Klu" enjoyed his most productive years from 1953 through 1956, with home run totals of 40, 49, 47 and 35 while driving in over 100 baserunners in each, including a league-leading 141 RBIs in 1954. He also hit .300 or better eight times. Kluszewski also led National League first basemen in fielding percentage five straight years (1951-1955), a major league record.
However, injuries began taking their toll; Kluszewski was limited to playing just four full seasons in his fifteen-year career and would eventually spend his last four seasons as a part-time player.
Pittsburgh Pirates & Chicago White Sox 
He was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates before the 1958 season, and was traded again in August 1959 to the Chicago White Sox. The trade for 2 other players gave Al Lopez's first place team the much needed additional home run power to help win the 1959 American League Pennant. The White Sox faced the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series. In the first game at Chicago's Comiskey Park, Kluszewski hit two home runs and drove in five in an 11–0 rout of the Dodgers. However, the Dodgers would win the next four out of five games to win the series with pitching that neutralized the White Sox, except for Kluszewski, who hit .391 with three home runs and ten RBIs (tying Gil Hodges' mark set in the same series). Around that time, Sox owner Bill Veeck introduced uniforms with players' names on the backs. During a road trip to New York, Ted Kluszewski became the first player to appear in a game with his name misspelled, with a backwards "z" and an "x" instead of the second "k".
Los Angeles Angels 
Kluszewski, hampered by back and leg problems, was the star baseball player of the Angels' first season's, first opening game held on April 11, 1961 against the Baltimore Orioles at Memorial Stadium where he belted two home runs off of Milt Pappas as the Angels defeated the Orioles 7-2. During his final season, Kluszewski hit .243 with 15 home runs and 39 RBIs in 107 games.
Post playing career and death 
After retiring as a player, Kluszewski was a hitting coach under Sparky Anderson with the Cincinnati Reds during their outstanding teams in the 1970s. In 1979, he became the Reds' minor league hitting instructor, a position he held until 1986, when he suffered a massive heart attack and underwent emergency bypass surgery. He retired afterward. Kluszewski died on March 29, 1988 in Cincinnati at age 63.
Major League stats 
- Nat. League All-Star (1953–56)
- Maj. League Leader in home runs (1954)
- Nat. League Leader in RBI's (1954)
- Nat. League Leader in hits (1955)
- Nat. League Leader in fielding average (1951–55)
- Amer. League pennant team (1959)
Major League Record: Led National League in fielding average five times as first baseman (1951-1955)
Major League Record: Three-home runs by 3 team members in single game, in a single season (1956):
1950: Tommy Brown, Roy Campanella, and Duke Snider of the Brooklyn Dodgers
1956: Gus Bell, Ted Kluszewski, and Bob Thurman of the Cincinnati Reds
1987: Joe Carter, Brook Jacoby, and Cory Snyder of the Cleveland Indians
National League Record: 17 consecutive games scoring runs (1955)
Honors and recognitions 
|Ted Kluszewski's number 18 was retired by the Cincinnati Reds in 1998.|
1976: Esquire magazine article by sportswriter Harry Stein featured an "ALL Time All-Star Argument Starter" consisting of five ethnic baseball teams. Kluszweski was the first baseman on Stein's Polish team.
1998: On July 18, Kluszewski's number 18 was retired by the Cincinnati Reds at a pregame ceremony at Cinergy Field. His widow, Elenor Guckel, threw out the ceremonial first pitch before the game between the San Diego Padres and the Cincinnati Reds.
2003: Great American Ball Park, the home of the Cincinnati Reds, opened on March 31. Before the inaugural game, the Reds dedicated a bronze statue of Kluszewski on the Crosley Terrace area outside the main gate. Statues of Crosley Field era stars Ernie Lombardi, Joe Nuxhall, and Frank Robinson were erected later. The statues were sculpted by Cincinnati artist Tom Tsuchiya.
See also 
- BIG KLU: The Baseball Life of Ted Kluszewski, 2012 (paperback)
- List of top 300 Major League Baseball home run hitters
- List of Major League Baseball retired numbers
- National Polish-American Sports Hall of Fame
- List of Polish Americans
- List of Major League Baseball players with 1000 RBI
- List of Major League Baseball RBI champions
- List of Major League Baseball home run champions
- Baseball Library
- Baseball Reference
- Cincinnati's Crosley Field: The Illustrated History of a Classic Ballpark by Greg Rhodes and John Erardi, 1995, Road West Publishing
|National League Home Run Champion
|National League RBI Champion