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Monday, November 21, 2016

Big Klu: Ted Kluszewski

​The restrictions on travel during World War II denied the Cincinnati Reds the opportunity to train in sunny Florida. They were relegated to training at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana.  The groundskeeper at the time for the Reds, a man named Marty Schwab watched as a big strong hammered baseballs up and over an embankment that players on the big league club weren't doing in training camp that spring.
The Reds had discovered Ted Kluszewski, standout tight end on the Indiana University football team. The Reds anxious to sign the lefthand hitting first baseman were initially rebuffed.  Big Klu didn't want to give up his college eligibility.  He waited to sign with the Reds in 1946, and after two dominating seasons in the minor leagues he got the call to the show.
He went to play 15 seasons in the major leagues, his best four stint was 1953-1956, where was named a National League in each season. In 1954, he hit 49 home runs with 141 RBI, he put together a slash line that season of .326/.407/.642.  Finishing second in the MVP voting to a guy from the New York Giants named Willie Mays. 
He would play 15 years in the major leagues and finish with a career slash line of .298/.353/.498 with 279 home runs and 1028 RBI. He walked 492 times with only 365 strikeouts in 6469 plate appearances. On heard of numbers by today's standards. Injuries took their toll on Big Klu after the 1956 season, and his numbers diminished as a result.  He was the hitting coach for the Big Red Machine teams of the 1970's under Sparky Anderson.
Known for cutting off the sleeves of his shirts to fit his huge biceps, the slugging first baseman was inducted into the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame in 1962. His #18 was retired by the Reds.

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