Tuesday, July 10, 2012

On This Day... Chuck Klein x4

July 10, 1936. Pittsburgh's Forbes Field. 36 year old Chuck Klein becomes the first national League player in the 20th century to hit four home runs in one game.

Chuck started the day with a 1st inning three-run homer off Pirate starter Jim Weaver. With a little more wind, Chuck would have had 5 home runs because when he next came to the plate in the 2nd inning, he drove a long, high fly ball toward the right-field wall. But the ball came to rest in the glove of Paul Waner, whose back was to the wall as he made the catch.

In his next three at-bats, Klein blasted three more solo shots, one off Weaver in the fifth, another in the seventh inning against Mace Brown, and the last off reliever Bill Swift in the tenth to help the Phillies pull out a 9-6 victory.

In his 17-year big league career Klein batted .320, with 398 doubles, 1,201 runs batted in, 1,168 runs, 2,076 hits (870 extra-bases), and 300 home runs. He retired in 1944 and like many ballplayers of his era, he died young (age 53) in 1958.

As they have for all of their Hall of Famers, the Phillies have honored Chuck Klein with a "retired" uniform. The confusion exists because Phillies didn't begin using numbers until 1932. Klein wore some of the most famous numbers in Phillies history. He wore #3 in 1932 and 1933 before he was then traded to the Chicago Cubs. When he returned to the Phillies in 1936, he initially wore #32 (later retired for Steve Carlton), but soon switched to #36 (later retired for Robin Roberts). In 1938 he wore number #1 (later retired for Richie Ashburn), and #26 (Chase Utley). In 1939 he donned #14 (later retired for Jim Bunning and worn by Pete Rose). In 1940-41 he wore #29 (John Kruk before he sold it to Mitch Williams for a case of beer) and switched back to #3 in 1942. In 1943 he grabbed #8 (Tony Taylor, Bob Boone, Joe Morgan, Juan Samuel and currently Shane Victorino) and back to #26 (Utley) again in 1944, his last major league season.

Personally, I would have just retired #3 and called it a day. But, as they did for Grover Cleveland Alexander (another pre-numbers Hall of Famer) the Phillies simply retired a "P" for him. After years of lobbying for his entry into the Baseball Hall of Fame, The Veterans Committee finally voted him in 1980.
Klein is one of only 16 players in baseball history to blast four round trippers in one game. He stands with fellow Hall of Famers Ed Delahanty and Mike Schmidt as Phillies to accomplish the rare feat.

Bobby LoweMay 30, 1894Boston BeaneatersCincinnati Reds
Ed Delahanty  July 13, 1896Philadelphia Phillies Chicago Colts
Lou GehrigJune 3, 1932 New York Yankees Philadelphia Athletics
Chuck KleinJuly 10, 1936 Philadelphia Phillies Pittsburgh Pirates
Pat SeereyJuly 18, 1948 Chicago White Sox Philadelphia Athletics
Gil Hodges   August 31, 1950 Brooklyn Dodgers Boston Braves
Joe AdcockJuly 31, 1954 Milwaukee Braves Brooklyn Dodgers
Rocky ColavitoJune 10, 1959 Cleveland Indians Baltimore Orioles
Willie MaysApril 30, 1961 San Francisco Giants Milwaukee Braves
Mike SchmidtApril 17, 1976 Philadelphia Phillies Chicago Cubs
Bob Horner July 6, 1986 Atlanta Braves Montreal Expos
Mark WhitenSeptember 7, 1993 St. Louis Cardinals Cincinnati Reds
Mike CameronMay 2, 2002 Seattle Mariners Chicago White Sox
Shawn GreenMay 23, 2002 Los Angeles Dodgers Milwaukee Brewers
Carlos DelgadoSeptember 25, 2003 Toronto Blue Jays Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Josh HamiltonMay 8, 2012 Texas Rangers Baltimore Orioles


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