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All-Time Best Phillies: Chuck Klein, Right Field

June 5, 2017 8:18 pm0 commentsViews: 44
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ChuckKlein-wIn 1930, Chuck Klein had a monster year that can be considered the best in baseball history.  That year, the best Phillies right fielder of all time batted .386, amassing 250 hits and 158 runs scored. His 170 RBIs is still a Phillies record, as is his 59 doubles, .687 slugging percentage and 445 total bases. Klein also hit 40 homeruns and his 107 extra-base hits still stands as the National League record (Barry Bonds matched that number in 2001). His 44 assists from right field is still the modern-day MLB record.

Born in Indianapolis, the “Hoosier Hammer” in 1932 led the league in home runs and stolen bases —a feat never accomplished before or after —and won the MVP (which did not exist in 1930 or it would have been his 2nd).  In 1933 he won the triple crown but finished 2nd to Carl Hubbel in the MVP vote. (Two other triple crown winners did not win the MVP. Can you name them? Scroll all the way down for the answer.)

In his first full year in the majors, the future Hall of Famer led the league in homeruns helped by a big assist from his pitching staff. On the last day of the year, the Phills squared off for a twin-bill against the Giants and Mel Ott, who was tied with Klein for the lead. In the first game, Chuck hit a home run and Ott managed only a single. With Chuck leading the league entering the second game, the Phillie pitchers walked Ott 5 times — including once with the bases loaded.

Most of Chuck Klein’s great numbers came as a Phillie between 1929 and 1933 before he was traded to the Cubs. It must be noted that the lefty swinging slugger was aided by the comfortable confines of the Phillies home park, the Baker Bowl.  (It was one of five ballparks the Phillies have called home. Can you name the other four? Scroll all the way down for the answers.)  Built on a lot to fit in the city grid, The Baker Bowl was bordered by N. Broad, W. Huntingdon, N. 15th, and W Lehigh.

Chuck took advantage of the 281’ right field foul line and the 300’ right center alley, hitting 180 of his 300 career home runs in those five years. Defensively he was able to play such a shallow right field that many of his assists came from throwing batters out at first base.

Chuck returned to the Phillies in 1936 but was never the same.  He retired in 1944 and ran a bar in Philadelphia. His excessive drinking led to financial ruin and bad health. He died in 1958 at the age of 53 in Indianapolis. ■

—George Porgeman / Yardley

This article is the sixth in a series of All-Time Best Phillies at every position.

 

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1) Lou Gehrig, Ted Williams (twice)

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2) Recreation Park 1883-1886, Baker Bowl 1897-1938, Connie Mack/ Shibe Park 1938-1970, Veterans Stadium 1971-2003, Citizens Bank 2004-.

 

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