Dec 29, 2014

Mid Sixties Mets Infielder: Bobby Klaus (1964-1965)

Robert Francis Klaus was born December 27, 1937 in Spring Grove, Illinois.

He is the brother of Billy Klaus who played infield for the Milwaukee Braves, Boston Red Sox, Washington Senators, Baltimore Orioles & Philadelphia Phillies in the fifties/ early sixties. In his career Billy Klaus hit .249 with 40 HRs 106 doubles 15 triples a .355 on base % & 250 RBIs over eleven seasons.

Younger brother Bobby Klaus attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign getting signed by the Cincinnati Reds in 1959. In 1962 he was the Pacific Coast League’s All Star second baseman while playing at AAA San Diego. Klaus made his MLB debut against the Houston Astros on April 21, 1964 as a pinch hitter, getting no official at bat, because a runner was caught stealing.

For the 1964 Reds he actually filled in briefly at second base, replacing a struggling young Pete Rose. Rose was hitting under .200 for a brief time, but Klaus was no better, as he only hit .183 with two HRs & six RBIs in 93 at bats. Rose regained form & took over second base the rest of the season.

Klaus hit both his HRs in mid June in back to back games, on the road in Houston against the Astros & in San Francisco against the Giants. That July Klaus’ contract was purchased by New York Mets.

He was brought in to replace the first Mets All Star, Ron Hunt at second base when he had gone down with an injury. Klaus debuted on July 30th against the Los Angeles Dodgers going 0-2. Klaus then got hot getting 13 hits in his first nine Mets games. But Hunt was soon back at the second base position, going to the 1964 All Star game played at Shea Stadium, representing the Mets while batting .303 on the season.

On August 16th at Shea Stadium, Klaus had four hits, and scored three runs in a game against the Philadelphia Phillies. On August 23rd he broke a 3-3 tie with the Chicago Cubs, hitting a 7th inning HR off Dick Ellswworth which proved to be the game winner. That hot streak saw him get 15 hits in the last week of August into early September, including four straight multiple hit games. He closed out the year with a three run HR off the Cardinals Mike Cullear in the next to last game of the season.

Overall for the season he batted .244 with 2 HRs 8 doubles 25 walks & 11 RBIs playing at second & third base in 56 games.

In 1965 he had his only full season in the majors, playing in 119 games all around the Infield. He played 72 games at second, for the Mets, making 11 errors (.968%). He played 28 games at short & 25 games at third base.

On April 15th he had one of his biggest thrills, hitting a walk off HR to beat Claude Raymond & the Houston Astros 5-4. On September 19th he hit his second HR helping New York to a 8-6 win over the Chicago Cubs.

Klaus only hit for a .191 average, with 2 HRs 12 doubles 45 walks & 12 RBIs. He was in the leadoff spot for 50 games but only had one stolen base & a .302 on base % so he was dropped down in the line up to the seventh position.

The next winter the Mets traded him to the Philadelphia Phillies along with two minor leaguers for “Dr. Strange Glove” Dick Stuart.

Klaus was drafted by the San Diego Padres in their 1969 expansion season, after having played five seasons in San Diego in the AAA Pacific Coast League. But just before the season began he was traded to Pittsburgh never making it back to the majors.

He closed out his brief two season career with a .209 average 123 hits 2 HRs 25 doubles 29 RBIs & a .297 on base % in 215 games played.

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