Chuck Klein

One of the most prodigious sluggers of the late 1920s and early 1930s, Chuck Klein was a star from the day he joined the Phillies in July 1928. The short right-field fence at Baker Bowl (280 feet) contributed to the lefthanded-hitting Klein’s slugging records and high batting average. He collected more than 200 hits for five straight seasons (1929-33), leading the NL the last two. With 250 hits in 1930, he batted .386 but still finished third in the league behind Bill Terry (.401) and Babe Herman (.393). It was a hitter’s year, but Klein’s average was 83 points above the league mark.

Klein led the league in total bases for four consecutive years (1930-33), leading in doubles in two of them and HR in three. He led in runs scored three straight years, powered six HR in four straight games in 1929, and twice hit five in three games. Unlike most sluggers, he was a competent baserunner, topping the circuit in 1932 with 20 steals and hitting 15 triples. His league-leading numbers of outfield assists in 1930 (44, a modern NL record), 1932, and 1933 were largely a product of his skill at fielding the strange caroms off the corrugated tin wall at Baker Bowl.

The NL MVP in 1932, Klein won the Triple Crown in 1933 (28 HR, 120 RBI, .368), though Carl Hubbell took MVP honors. During his first six years, Klein hit 191 HR and collected 1,209 hits, 699 runs, and 727 RBI. Traded to the Cubs for the 1934 season, Klein was a disappointment in Chicago by his previous standards. Many Baker Bowl home runs turned into long outs at Wrigley Field. Even so, he hit 20 and 21 HR in two seasons and batted .301 and .293. The Phillies reacquired him in May 1936, and Klein had his greatest game when he smashed four homers in a 10-inning contest on July 10. Klein was elected to the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in 1980.

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