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Ted Kluszewski

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Theodore Bernard Kluszewski
(Big Klu or Muscles)

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[edit] Biographical Information

Ted Kluszewski was a top star in the 1950s in the National League, much in the same way that Rocky Colavito was a big star in the American League. Big Klu had plenty of power - he is perhaps best remembered for his massive arms, forgoing a T-shirt beneath the sleeveless uniforms that the Cincinnati Redlegs wore in those days. However, he also posted high batting averages and had excellent bat control. Johnny Mize is the only man ever to have 50 homers in a season while striking out fewer than 50 times, but Klu is the one who has come closest since. That was in his most successful year, 1954, when he was second in the MVP voting behind Willie Mays after leading the league in home runs (49) and RBI (141). He struck out just 35 times. The next season, 1955, he had 47 homers against 40 strikeouts, while also leading the league in intentional walks.

When Frank Robinson came up in 1956 to set the then-record of 38 homers for a rookie, Klu hit 35 and Wally Post added 36 for the Redlegs.

Traded to the Chicago White Sox in August of 1959, he slugged .826 for them in the 1959 World Series.

One of the most similar players to Klu based on similarity scores, Mo Vaughn, had a somewhat similar career pattern. Vaughn's career ended due to injuries, while Klu had his career diminished by injuries (notably a bad back). Both were big sluggers with good batting averages in their prime. Vaughn, however, was known for his poor conditioning habits.

After his playing career ended Kluszewski was a Cincinnati Reds coach from 1970 to 1978. He remained in the organization as a minor league hitting instructor after that, retiring in 1987. Kluszewski had undergone bypass surgery after a heart attack in 1986; he passed away from another heart attack in 1988.

Actor John Lithgow, a fan of Klu's, contributed a chapter on his boyhood hero to the book Cult Baseball Players, edited by Danny Peary.

[edit] Notable Achievements

  • 4-time NL All-Star (1953-1956)
  • NL Hits Leader (1955)
  • NL Home Runs Leader (1954)
  • NL RBI Leader (1954)
  • 20-Home Run Seasons: 5 (1950 & 1953-1956)
  • 30-Home Run Seasons: 4 (1953-1956)
  • 40-Home Run Seasons: 3 (1953-1955)
  • 100 RBI Seasons: 4 (1950 & 1953-1956)
  • 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 2 (1954 & 1955)

[edit] Further Reading

  • William A. Cook: Big Klu: The Baseball Life of Ted Kluszewski, McFarland, Jefferson, NC, 2012. ISBN 978-0-7864-6999-4
  • Ted Kluszewski (as told to George Vass): "The Game I'll Never Forget", Baseball Digest, November 1971, pp. 52-54.
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