October 22, 1918|
New Orleans, Louisiana
|Died: June 20, 1976
|April 21, 1943, for the St. Louis Cardinals|
|Last MLB appearance|
|September 30, 1951, for the Philadelphia Athletics|
|Runs batted in||101|
|Career highlights and awards|
Louis Frank Klein (October 22, 1918 – June 20, 1976) was an infielder for the St. Louis Cardinals, the Cleveland Indians, and the Philadelphia Athletics, but he was best known as one of the players that jumped to the Mexican League and was subsequently banned by Commissioner Happy Chandler for a five-year span (though the suspension was later reduced).
Klein was the everyday second baseman for the Cardinals in the 1943 season, playing every inning of the season, but then served the next two years in the military during World War II. After returning to the Cardinals late in the 1945 season, and battling for playing time on a talent-loaded team, he felt his future role would be limited, as a utility player backing up the younger Red Schoendienst. Only two months into the 1946 season, with the Cardinals in first place, he jumped to the Mexican League, along with teammates Max Lanier and Fred Martin.
Throughout the spring of 1946, the Pasquel brothers of the Mexican League had been making enticing offers to many Major Leaguers, and the trio of Cardinals were the latest group to accept. In an attempt to slow this exodus, all players who broke an existing contract to join the Mexican League, including Klein, were banned from the Major Leagues for a span of five years by Commissioner Chandler.
On June 5, 1949, Chandler lifted the bans on the Mexican League jumpers, and eleven days later, Klein returned to the Cardinals. After brief stints with the Indians and Athletics, he found a job as a coach with the Chicago Cubs.
Midway through the 1961 season, Klein was named to the infamous College of Coaches, and ran the team for 11 games late in of the 1961 season. He'd actually helmed clubs as low as Class D (the equivalent of a Rookie-level team today) during the season; the College of Coaches system called for all eight coaches to rotate through the entire minor league system.
In 1962, he was named head coach again, replacing El Tappe and managed 30 games (with a 12–18 record). The Cubs finished 59–103 — their first time ever with a 100-loss season, and still the worst in franchise history. Only the 40–120 New York Mets were worse. In 1965, he replaced Bob Kennedy as head coach, this time by himself. He went 48–58 in his third stint, finishing with a lifetime 65–82 record.
Klein died in Metairie, Louisiana, at age 57.
- Neyer, Rob (2006). Rob Neyer's Big Book of Baseball Blunders. New York City: Fireside. ISBN 0-7432-8491-7.
- Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference