Veterans Committee elects two to Hall of Fame Class of 1980

Part of the INSIDE PITCH series
Written by: Craig Muder

As the decade of the 1980s got under way, the Hall of Fame’s Veterans Committee paid tribute to a pair of pioneers from half a century before.

On March 12, 1980, the Veterans Committee named outfielder Chuck Klein and Boston Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey to the Class of 1980, joining Baseball Writers’ Association of America electees Al Kaline and Duke Snider.

Klein and Yawkey were part of an eight-person final ballot that also included future electees Walter Alston (Class of 1983), Johnny Mize (Class of 1981) and Vic Willis (Class of 1995).

Klein, who passed away in 1958, was a slugging outfielder with the Phillies, Cubs and Pirates who won the 1932 National League Most Valuable Player Award and the 1933 NL Triple Crown. A four-time NL home run champion, Klein hit .320 over his 17-year career with 300 home runs among his 2,076 hits.

“His average reflects the kind of ballplayer he was,” Burleigh Grimes, a member of the Veterans Committee, told United Press International. “He was just a good man to have on the club.”

Klein totaled 400-or-more bases in three seasons, good for second place on that all-time list behind Lou Gehrig, who had five such seasons. No other player in history has more than two 400-total base campaigns.

Klein’s 445 total bases in 1930 rank fourth all-time behind Babe Ruth (457 in 1921), Rogers Hornsby (450 in 1922) and Lou Gehrig (447 in 1927). His 158 runs scored in 1930 remains the post-1900 record for National Leaguers.

Yawkey purchased the Red Sox in 1933 and immediately began investing in a franchise that had not had a winning record since 1918. Engineering trades that brought future Hall of Famers Joe Cronin, Jimmie Foxx and Lefty Grove to Boston, Yawkey led the Red Sox to record of .500-or-better in 15 of 18 seasons from 1934-51.

The Red Sox won American League pennants in 1946, 1967 and 1975 under Yawkey, who passed away in 1976.

Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

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Part of the INSIDE PITCH series