Chuck Klein

Position: Outfielder
Teams: Philadelphia Phillies, 1928-1933; 1936-1939; 1940-1944; Chicago Cubs, 1934-1936; Pittsburgh Pirates, 1939

Born in Indianapolis, Indiana, Charles Herbert Klein (1904-1958) worked in a local steel mill and played semi-pro ball until he was in his early 20s. A broken leg threatened to end his career in 1927 after only 14 games with Evansville of the Three-I League, but Klein recovered to sock 26 homers in the first 88 games he played for Fort Wayne of the Central League the following year.

In the eight World Series Dickey participated in, he caught every inning.
In the eight World Series Dickey
participated in, he caught every inning.

The Phillies purchased Chuck from the Indiana club for $7,500 and immediately put him into Philadelphia livery. In his rookie season, Chuck tattooed an eye-opening 91 hits in just 64 games and batted .360. As a sophomore, Klein hit .356 and topped the National League with 43 home runs, a new loop record.

In 1930, his third season, Chuck set another modern NL record that still stands when he scored 158 runs and also bagged 59 doubles, then a senior loop record. In addition, he batted .386, pounded out 250 hits, and collected 170 RBI. Klein did not exactly go on vacation while he was in the field that year, either. He set a 20th-century record for outfielders when he amassed 44 assists and led all NL gardeners with 10 double plays.

Klein continued to decimate pitchers as he topped the NL in home runs and slugging average over the next three seasons. His apex came in 1933, when he won the Triple Crown. A year earlier he had become the only player since the end of the dead-ball era to lead his loop in both home runs and stolen bases.

Many wondered what the southpaw-slugging Klein would do with a contender, and in 1934 they got their answer when he was traded to the Cubs by the financially strapped Phillies.

Bothered by a series of hamstring pulls and a growing drinking problem, Klein played just 115 games for Chicago in 1934 and 119 in 1935. Although his numbers were decent in both seasons, they did not come close to expectations. Shortly after the start of the 1936 season, Chuck was shipped to the Phillies.

A few weeks after his return, he hit four home runs in a game -- not at the cozy Baker Bowl but at Pittsburgh’s spacious Forbes Field where only one player, Babe Ruth, had previously hit as many as three in a contest.

After retiring from the game in 1944, he ran a bar for a while in Philadelphia and then drifted back to Indianapolis. Under siege for years to name Klein to the Hall of Fame, the Veterans Committee finally relented in 1980.

Here are Chuck Klein's major league totals:


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