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Chuck Klein, Hall of Famer

By Tim Kindler - Originally published in the NEIBA Line Drives September 2004 Newsletter

Charles (Chuck) Hubert Klein was born in Indianapolis, Indiana on October 7, 1904. He grew up

there, worked in a local steel mill, and played semi-pro baseball in the Indianapolis area until he was in his early 20s. A broken leg injury threatened to end his career in 1927 after playing in only 14 games for the Evansville, Indiana club of the Three-I League. But Klein recovered to play ball again the next season for the Fort Wayne Chiefs of the Central League. What a first half of the season he had! In only 88 games, he belted home runs and compiled a .331 batting average. 

Klein's start with Fort Wayne impressed the Philadelphia Phillies so much that they offered Fort Wayne manager Burt Shotton $7,500 for his services. Philadelphia immediately put him in their lineup, and Klein delivered with 96 hits and a whopping .360 batting average in the remaining 64 games of the 1928 season.

1928 Fort Wayne Chiefs featuring Klein (Top Row 3rd from L.)

For the next five seasons (1929-1933), Klein put up numbers that rival any player's stats that has ever played the game in a five year period. Five straight years of 200 or more hits, 233 doubles, 46 triples, 180 home runs, 693 RBIs, and a 358 batting average. Statistical highlights of this 5 year period include: a .386 batting average in 1930, 43 home runs in 1929, 59 doubles in 1930, a record 158 runs scored in 1930, 170 RBIs in 1930, 250 hits also in 1930; and he led the National League in home runs 4 out of the 5 years. 

He was also named the National League's Most Valuable Player in 1932. Klein's achievement that put him into Baseball Immortality was his 1933 Triple Crown season. He became one of only 14 players ever to achieve this honor. That year he led the National League in batting average, .368, home runs 28, and runs batted in with 152. He also had 223 hits that season with a slugging percentage of .602. Klein was also a superb defensive right fielder, who still holds the one-season record of 44 assists in 1930. 

For the remainder of his 19 year career, Klein continued to put up decent offensive numbers, though nowhere near his remarkable five years of early dominance. He also continued to play an excellent right field. He also played two seasons for the Cubs, and one season for the Pirates in between his 16 years in Philadelphia. The veterans committee of the National Baseball Hall of Fame elected Klein to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown in 1980.


With roots back to the 1940's, the Northeast Indiana Baseball Association (NEIBA) works to celebrate baseball in Fort Wayne. The organization hosts an annual Hall of Fame and Awards Banquet and publishes a quarterly publication, Line Drives. Learn more about the Northeast Indiana Baseball Association on their website.


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