Chuck Klein sneaks onto the top-50 all-time list as a borderline Deadball Era player who played most of his career outside of that timeframe. One of the great sluggers in baseball history, it’s hard to ignore Klein’s impact in Philadelphia.
Making his major league debut in 1929, Klein quickly became a superstar power hitter in the era of Babe Ruth. Klein was essentially the National League’s Ruth, leading the league in home runs in four of his first five full seasons.
From 1929 to 1933, Klein hit 180 home runs, clubbed 1,118 hits and hit .359 for Philadelphia. In 1932, he won the National League MVP and had three consecutive years finishing in the top two for the award.
Strangely, Klein never led the league in any categories after the 1933 season, stunting his National Baseball Hall of Fame career very early on. Despite hitting 180 home runs in his first five seasons, he finished his 17-year career with only 300 home runs.
Prior to the 1934 season, Philadelphia traded their superstar to the Chicago Cubs for Harvey Hendrick, Ted Kleinhans, Mark Koenig and $65,000. After two seasons, the Cubs sent Klein back to the Phillies, where he played eight of his last nine seasons.
Klein was enshrined into the National Baseball Hall of Fame via the Veterans Committee in 1980, 22 years after his death. Despite playing 80 years ago, Klein is the franchise-leader in slugging percentage and OPS. He ranks in the franchise’s top-10 for batting average, home runs, hits, doubles, RBI and extra-base hits.
Philadelphia honored Klein by retiring an era-style letter P in his honor and inducting him onto the Wall of Fame in 1980.