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

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

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 briefly filled in at second base, replacing a struggling young Pete Rose. Rose was hitting under .200 for a time, but Klaus was no better. He only batted .183 with two HRs & six RBIs in 93 at bats. Rose got his hitting together, took over second base & became the all-time hits leader.

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

Mets Career: Klaus was brought in to replace Ron Hunt the first Mets All Star, at second base after he had gone down with an injury. Klaus debuted on July 30th, 1964 in a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers going 0-2. Klaus then got hot, collecting 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 which was played at Shea Stadium. He represented the Mets while batting .303 on the season.

On August 16th at Shea Stadium, Klaus had four hits, and scored three runs in a 12-4 win over the Philadelphia Phillies. On August 23rd he broke a 3-3 tie with the Chicago Cubs, hitting a 7th inning HR off Dick Ellsworth which proved to be the game winning run.

A hot streak saw him get 15 hits in the last week of August going into early September. From August 28th to September 1st, he had four straight multiple hit games. On October 3rd, Klaus closed out the year with a three run HR off the soon to be World Champion Cardinals & pitcher Mike Cuellar in a 15-5 win in the next to last game of the regular 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.

1965: This season Klaus played his only full season in the majors, seeing action 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.

Walk Off HR: On a cold April 15th afternoon in a game at Shea against the Houston Astros, he had one of his biggest thrills.  With the score tied at 4-4 in the bottom of the 10th inning, Klaus hit a walk off HR off Claude Raymond to beat the Houston Astros 5-4. It was one of just two HRs he hit all season.

On May 12th, he doubled off the Cardinals Curt Simmons in the home 7th inning, to break a 1-1 tie & put the Mets ahead for the 2-1 win behind Jack Fisher. He was in the leadoff spot for 50 games in 1965 but only had one stolen base & a poor .302 on base %. So he was eventually dropped down in the line up to the seventh position.

On September 19th he hit his second HR of the season, helping New York to a 8-6 win over the Chicago Cubs.

In 1965 Klaus only hit for a .191 average, with 2 HRs 12 doubles 45 walks & 12 RBIs. 

Home: During his Mets playing days he lived on 41st Ave. in Flushing between 154th & Murray St.

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

Post Mets Career: Klaus was drafted by the San Diego Padres for their 1969 expansion season. He had played five seasons in San Diego in the AAA Pacific Coast League. But just before the 1969 season began, he was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates organization never making it back to the majors.

Career Stats: 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.

Family: Bobby is the younger brother of Billy Klaus who played eleven MLB seasons in 821 career games. 

He was an infielder for the Milwaukee Braves (1952-1953) Boston Red Sox (1955-1959) Baltimore Orioles (1959 -1960) Washington Senators (1961) & Philadelphia Phillies (1963).

In his career Billy Klaus hit .249 with 626 hits 106 doubles 15 triples 40 HRs 250 RBIs & a .355 on base %.

After his playing days he managed in the minor leagues for Washington & Oakland. He passed away in 2006 at age 77 in Sarasota Florida.

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