Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sunday School: History Lesson 33

Chuck Klein was an outfielder for the Phillies from 1928-1933 and from 1936-1939 and again from 1940-1944. In his first full season in the majors at age 24 in 1929, Klein led the National League in homeruns with 43. In addition, he drove in 145 runs and batted for a .356 average.

The following season, Klein had the best season of his career. He set the Phillies' single season RBI record of 170 that still stands today. He also batted .386, hit 59 doubles, slugged 40 homers and scored 158 runs.

In 1933, Klein won the triple crown (highest batting avg., most HR, most RBI), but did not win the NL MVP award. After the 1933 season, Klein was traded to the Cubs for three players and cash.

With Chicago, Klein disappointed based on his previous seasons' statistics. His RBI totals with the Cubs were 80 and 73 in 1934 & 1935, after he averaged over 138 RBI in 5 full seasons as a Phillie.

In May of 1936, the Cubs traded Klein back to the Phillies. That season, Klein was only 31 years old, but his best playing days were already behind him. In 117 games following the trade, Klein hit 20 homers and had 86 RBI with a .309 avg. Over the next two seasons, Klein's offensive numbers continued to decline and in 1938 he hit a low total of 8 HR in 129 games. In 1939 Klein continued to struggle, and was released by the team in June. He was signed by the Pirates the next day. With Pittsburgh, Klein batted .300 with 11 homers and 47 RBI in 85 games.

Klein returned to the Phillies for parts of five more seasons, four as a part time player, to finish out his career. In his latter years, Klein was active as a coach, who was occasionally used as a pinch hitter. Klein was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in 1980.

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