On the 1935 Goudey baseball card series, known as the Gehrig series, there is a blue strip on the card that states ‘Lou Says’. Without question Lou Gehrig was THE player of that year. But part of the series was dedicated to one Chuck Klein. Yes. There was a strip on the card that stated ‘Chuck Says’.
Why Chuck Klein? He is one of only of six players ever to have had five or more consecutive 200-hit seasons since 1901. Imagine, only six players have ever accomplished this spectacular feat. The ‘Hoosier Hammer’ was one of the great sluggers in the late 1920s and in the 1930s. He was the first player to be named to the All-Star Game as a member of two different teams, as he played for the Phillies fifteen years (1928-33, 1936-39 and 1940-44), the Cubs (1934-36) and the Pirates (1939). He is acknowledged as one of the Top 100 players all-time. The right fielder was named to the Hall of Fame in 1980.
He was one of the great Philadelphia Phillies. The Great Depression hit the city hard, and as unemployment climbed, fans stopped coming to baseball games. Attendance at Baker Bowl, where the Phillies played, dropped from 299,000 in 1930 to 156,000 in 1933. The Phillies were on the verge of bankruptcy. The team owner Gerald Nugent had no choice but to unload his most valuable player to help satisfy the club’s debts. And so on November 21, 1933, the Phillies traded Klein to the Chicago Cubs for shortstop Mark Koenig, outfielder Harvey Hendrick, pitcher Ted Kleinhans, and $65,000 in cash. The Cubs paid their new outfielder $30,000, the highest he made in the Major leagues.
While with the Cubs, he was injured, he was part of the team that got them to the 1935 World Series.
After one season with the Pirates he was back with the Pirates in 1940. One of the few bright spots of the season came on September 4 with the Phillies held ‘Chuck Klein Night’ at Shibe Park to honor their longtime slugger. More than 18,000 fans attended the game, the largest crowd to watch a Phillies game all season.
For a few bright years, Chuck Klein was one of the great stars of the game. He is honored by not having his number retired but by have an old English type-font ‘P’ retired by the Phillies. He is one of only two to be so honored. The other? Grover Cleveland Alexander. They join #1 Richie Ashbury, #14, Jim Bunning, #20 Mike Schmidt and #32, Steve Carlton for a team founded in 1883..
There were only five other players to accomplish the feat of hitting 200+ hits in five or more consecutive 200-hit seasons. Al Simmons (1929-1933); Charlie Gehringer (1933-1937); Wade Boggs (1983-1989); Ichiro Suzuki (2001-2010) and Michael Young (2003-2007).
All of these players are members of the Hall of Fame or will be upon eligibility.