Wednesday, December 28, 2011

This Day in Reds History: "Big Klu" Traded

Big Klu was famous for his propensity to cut
the sleeves off his uniform

December 28th, 1957 - After 11 seasons with the team, the Redlegs trade first basemen Ted Kluszewski to the Pirates in exchange for first basemen Dee Fondy.

Known as "Big Klu" among Reds fans, Kluszewski was the face of the franchise for much of the 1950's. In his career with Cincinnati the left-handed slugger boasted a .302 average, 251 homeruns, and 886 RBIs -- including the '54 campaign which saw him mash a league-best 49 homers and 141 RBIs. He was named an All-Star four consecutive seasons spanning from 1953-56 while finishing among the top seven or better in the MVP voting for three of those.

However, after a rough '57 season that saw him collect only 127 at-bats due to an ailing back injury, the club thought his playing days were over. Kluszewski would hang on for parts of four more seasons after the trade -- playing for the likes of the Pirates, White Sox and Angels before calling it quits at the end of 1961. But he never did experience the kind of success he enjoyed in the mid-50's.

The acquisition of Fondy turned out to be a complete and utter bust for the Reds. Like Big Klu, the 33-year old Fondy was also nearing the end of his career, but it turned out his came sooner than Kluszewski's. The 1958 season was the last for the native Texan after he hit just .218 with 1 homer and 11 RBIs in 124 at-bats.

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