During the five-year run, Klein led the league in homers four times and finished second once. He wasn’t just a slugger. Starting in 1929, Klein reeled off at least 200 hits each year through 1933 to become the only player to reach the mark in each of each of his first five full big league seasons. Incredibly, he averaged 224 hits per year and hit .359.
In 1932 the Phillies right fielder captured the National League Most Valuable Player Award. He followed up that season with by winning the Triple Crown in ’33.
Klein’s team struggles; Foxx’s shines
While Klein put up outstanding individual numbers his Phillies struggled. Under manager Burt Shotton, the Phillies finished last twice and went a combined 113 games below .500. Their only first-division finish came in 1932 when they finished in fourth place, two games above the break-even mark.
Predictably, fans didn’t embrace the woeful team. From 1929-1933 the Phillies ranked last in the league in attendance four times, averaging just over a half-million fans per season.
Foxx’s Athletics provided a stark contrast.
In 1929 they went 104-46 and finished 18 games ahead of the two-time defending Word Series champion Yankees to win the American League pennant. In the Fall Classic the Athletics rolled over Joe McCarthy‘s Cubs four-games-to-one.
Their dominance continued in 1930 when they won 102 games on their way to their second straight World Series title. The following season the A’s went 107-45 in the regular season but dropped a seven-game set to the St. Louis Cardinals.
From there, Foxx led the way. In 1932 he was the AL Most Valuable Player, leading the league with 58 home runs an 169 runs batted in. In ’33 he doubled his pleasure, again winning the MVP, this time as the AL Triple Crown winner.
The two men dominate their leagues
Foxx and Klein were simply dominant. Only 18 men in baseball history tallied at least 400 total bases in a single season. The two Philadelphia Hall of Famers did it five times from 1929-1933 – Klein in ’29, ’30, and ’32, Foxx in ’32 and ’33. During the five-year run the pair combined for 2,056 hits, 386 homers, 1,419 RBI, and a .350 average.
In 1932 Foxx and Klein became the first pair from one market to earn the MVP in the same season. The next year’s performance was even more remarkable. Foxx and Klein made the Triple Crown an all-Philadelphia affair, the only time in baseball history each league had such dominance in the same season, let alone the same city.
From 1929 through 1933 baseball in the City of Brotherly Love had a historic run. The city hosted three World Series. Jimmie Foxx and Chuck Klein combined to give fans in Philadelphia six home run titles, a pair of batting crowns, three Most Valuable Player Awards, and two Triple Crowns.
For those five seasons the two Hall of Fame hitters made Philadelphia the center of the baseball universe.
Reach Jim Smiley, the author of this story, CooperstownExpert@yahoo.com