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Ted Kluszewski Ted Kluszewski

First Baseman Cincinnati REds 1947-1957, Pirates 1958-59, White Sox 1960, LA Angels 1961

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Following from Microsoft Baseball In 1954 Ted ‘Big Klu’ Kluszewski, practically a synonym for Raw strength, led the NL in home runs with 49, and in RBIs with 141. The 6 ft 2 , 225 pound left-handed slugger had a career batting average of .298 and a slugging percentage of .498. In the 1959 World Series, he drove in 10 runs for the White Sox while hitting .391. If not for World War II, Ted Kluszewski might never have been a pro ballplayer. During the war years MLB teams trained in the north to save on expenses, and the Cincinnati Reds used the Indiana University campus. Groundskeeper Lenny Schwab was sent ahead to prepare the field. Ted Kluszewski, an All American end on the school’s football team, volunteered to help prepare the field. When the team arrived for batting practice they let Ted Kluszewski take some swings – he hit balls over an embankment that none of the Reds could reach. He signed with Cincinnati and made the MLB club in 1947. Ted Kluszewski wore uniforms with raggedly cut-off sleeves, which became his trademark. ‘At first, I did it because the sleeves were restricting me from swinging. They could never make a uniform for me that would give me enough room. So I asked them to shorten the sleeves on my uniforms, but they gave me a lot of flak. So one day, I just took a pair of scissors out and cut them off. After awhile it became kind of a symbol.’ When Leo Durocher once contended that Gil Hodges was the strongest man in MLB, someone asked, ‘What about Ted Kluszewski?’ Durocher dismissively replied, ‘Kluszewski isn’t human’ ‘Big Klu’ was cut down to mortal scale in 1956 after he suffered a slipped disk during a clubhouse fight. Though he continued to hit for average, he only reached double figures in homers in one other season. After finishing his career with the expansion Angels in 1961, Ted Kluszewski became a hitting coach in the Reds organization. He died of a heart attack in 1988 at age 63.

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