From a world far away…
Ted Kluszewski’s birthday today.
Even though I’m not what you’d call a Reds fan, this is still one of my favorite baseball cards. (I wonder if that little guy on the uniform, with the moustache, I wonder if he’s got a name?)
No, they don’t make ’em like Big Ted anymore.Ted was born in 1924, making him a lot older than me. He’d be celebrating his 90th birthday, I guess, if he was still alive, which he ain’t. Ted passed away in 1988, at only 63.
Couple of things about Ted. He was a four time all-star, 1953-56, and led the majors in home runs in 1954. (With 49.) Plus he led the National League first basemen in fielding average five times. He had 15 inch biceps and cut the sleeves off his jersey because they restricted his swing. He was the hitting coach on the Big Red Machine teams of the seventies.
Okay, one last tid-bit, from the SABR bio:
What separated Kluszewski from the rest of the musclemen was his off-the-charts discipline at the plate. He totaled 31 fewer strikeouts (140) than home runs (171) in his four peak seasons. Of the 10 times in major-league history that a player hit at least 40 homers with fewer strikeouts, three were by Kluszewski. The others on the list: Lou Gehrig (twice), Johnny Mize (twice), Mel Ott, Joe DiMaggio, and Barry Bonds.
Pretty impressive list to be at the top of.
Happy birthday, Mr. Kluszewski, sir.
We’re not talking WWII, or even WWI.
Or even the Spanish-American War.
We’re talking Civil War.
This ball was in Sherman’s march to Atlanta, in 1864. Written on it is Zouave B.B.C. [which must mean Base Ball Club]. The Zouave units in the Civil War were modeled after the French elite Zouave units, which were first formed in Algeria, from native tribesmen. There were numerous volunteer Zouave units on both sides of the Civil War, and initially at least some of these units practiced light infantry tactics. They often wore eye-catching (and bullet-attracting) uniforms, with baggy red pants, short open jackets, and, at times, fezzes.
In any case, this old baseball is up for auction. Interested? Details here. It will be interesting to see what this goes for.
Nice to see the Twins win a few now, after their 10 game losing streak.
Tonight the Twins wore the uniforms of the ’48 St. Paul Saints, and won again, 8-6, hitting four home runs. Here’s St. Paul’s own Joe Mauer, just before he hits his home run.
I read an article somewhere recently, (maybe the Star Tribune?) about how the Saints and the Twins were trying to be friends now, after a history of antagonism, starting when the latest version of the Saints started playing ball over their at Midway. For the first time the Twins have a player on the active roster who has played with the Saints, Northfield’s own Caleb Thielbar. Looks like the kid throws strikes.
Came across this article in the NY Times this morning, from Saturday’s paper, about how Topps has seemingly altered their secret and unacknowledged numbering “system,” which apparently has assigned the number one card and the “double zero” (such as 100, 200, etc.) cards to “superior” players. For example, in 1969, some of the players with “double zero” were Hank Aaron, Mickey Mantle, Bob Gibson, and Tony Oliva. So, even though Topps has never said that there’s a system, sharp-eyed card collectors knew there was. And so, if you were wondering if Tom Seaver was any good, one look at the back of his 1970 card would show you that he was #300, and so you would know, yes, Tom Seaver is a pretty good pitcher.
Their new non-system — which they also do not acknowledge (Topps, why so mysterious? Why so secretive? What are you trying to hide?) — seems a little odd. This year, apparently, the best players get to have the same card number as their uniform number. The example they give is Clayton Kershaw, who was a double zero card last year, but this year is card 22, because he wears 22 on his uniform. Other “lesser stars” are then assigned numbers like 122, and 222. (Not sure if these are other stars, or other stars who wear the number 22.)
Got it? Yes — down this road lies chaos. I’m not sure baseball will survive this scandal.
But then, I don’t know if their numbering system was ever a very valuable tool. I suppose, if you knew nothing about baseball and were collecting baseball cards, it would be helpful. But perhaps, now, that safety net is gone.
Because baseball cards are in the news, I will slap one of my old cards up here. Stan Musial died this year, and I was surprised to find out that I had a Stan Musial card in my collection.
This is a 1962 card. I’ve always liked that year’s design, with the faux wood background. You’ll note that he was card number 50 that year; perhaps Mr. Musial was a minor star of some sort, certainly not “double zero” worthy, but perhaps a well-known player to certain astute St. L. Cardinal fans. The drawing on the back seems to be of some other player, though. Doesn’t look much like Stan at all. I like the big hand coming out to greet “Stan” as he approaches the plate — almost as if it’s your hand, welcoming Stan home, to your collection.
Okay, here’s another of my favorite old baseball cards.
Ted. Of the Cincinnati Redlegs. Which is what they were sometimes known as during the Cold War. (God Forbid that there would be Reds playing America’s game!)
Ted looks like a guy you did not ever want to get angry.
Did the Redlegs ever play a game with sleeveless jerseys? Or is this just Ted being Ted? I suppose if Ted didn’t want to wear the under shirt, no one was going to say anything about it. Whatever you want to do, Ted. Er, Mr. Kluszewski. Sir. It’s a good look for you.
The card’s a little off-center, I suppose that decreases its value a bit. Oh, and there’s that big crease in it, too. Kind of makes it impossible to know for sure how many triples Mr. Kluszewski hit in ’47, ’48, and ’49. And I guess the corners are not quite perfectly square, really.
Still. It’s kinda priceless, I think.
Also, a pretty good baseball name.
looked up Mr. Kluszewski on Wikipedia. The sleeves were just Ted being Ted:
Soon after the 6′-2″ (1.89 m), 240-pound (108.8 kg) Ted Kluszewski joined the Reds in 1947, he cut off the sleeves of his uniform, much to the chagrin of the Reds front office. He did it because the tight sleeves constricted his large biceps and shoulders and interfered with his swing. “They got pretty upset, but it was either that or change my swing — and I wasn’t about to change my swing”, said Kluszewski. Kluszewski became notorious for his strength; Hall of Fame manager Leo Durocher was asked to name five of the strongest players in baseball, he complied. When it was pointed out that he’d left Ted Kluszewski off his list, Durocher said: “Kluszewski? I’m talking about human beings!”
Kluszewski was named to the National League All-Star roster 1953 through 1956, and was a career .298 hitter with 279 home runs and 1028 RBI in 1718 games. In ten of his fifteen seasons, Kluszewski walked (492) more often than he struck out (365). In 1955, he hit 47 homers while striking out only 40 times. No player since him has hit 40 homers and struck out 40 or fewer times in the same season.
I note that they don’t say anything like “as nice as he was big” or “known for being a gentle giant with a heart of gold.” Probably he was, though, at times.
What we have here is a Japanese baseball jersey, on sale at Ragstock in Minneapolis. They had quite a number of them, and all of them looked like they had seen hard action. Plus they were all very small. I’m not a big guy, and these things would be way small on me. High School jerseys?
In addition, they were made out of some space age material. Double-knit naugahyde?
So far, I have not turned up a Kubara baseball team. I’ll keep you posted though.