Friday, February 3, 2012
#33) BOBBY KLAUS
Bobby Klaus joined the New York Mets when his contract was purchased from the Cincinnati Reds on July 19, 1964. "A new team is always exciting." Klaus said about the move. The Mets representative for the mid-summer classic at Shea was not as excited to see the second baseman come on board. "Let them move him to third base," angrily said Ron Hunt upon hearing the news he was losing his position. "He ain't made the All-Star team yet, has he?"
The Mets did elect to install Klaus with his superior glove into the middle infield. Casey Stengel liked what he saw in the young player. Evidence of that exists at the Mets Hall of Fame and Museum in a hand-written note where the manager describes Bobby as a "fair bunter and good hustler". Klaus made his New York Mets debut on July 30, 1964. The day of the legendary manager's 74th birthday. Stengel celebrated the day while the club hosted the Los Angeles Dodgers at Shea Stadium. Bobby was hitless in four at-bats during the 5-3 loss.
For his first season, Klaus would end up with two home runs, 11 RBIs, and a .244 batting average in 56 games. Done while playing a mix of both second and third base positions defensively. Bobby says he has fond memories of those days "playing with an old pro like Roy McMillan." The veteran shortstop's experience was of great value to the recent big-leaguer.
Klaus took a job with team sponsor Rheingold Beer during the off-season. "I was a pack-out man in Queens." remembers Bobby. During his time with the Mets, the Klaus family lived in Flushing. He was often seen there playing games of catch with his young daughter, Kelly and teaching her and friends to sing "Meet the Mets". Bobby was even known to join in neighborhood games of touch football.
In 1965, the infielder was once again asked to replace Hunt. This time it was when Ron suffered a separated shoulder injury that sent him to the disabled list from May 12th through August 4th. Bobby shared time at second base with newly-acquired Chuck Hiller during Hunt's absence.
He finished the year with two home runs, 12 RBIs, and a .191 batting average in a total of 119 games. The Mets chose to trade Klaus along with Wayne Graham and Jimmie Schaffer to the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for Dick Stuart on February 22, 1966.
Bobby would not return to the major leagues again, and retired from playing baseball in 1969. He was a member of the San Diego Padres system and took over as their Triple-A manager midway through the 1968 campaign. The Illinois native remained in California after baseball and started a new career with the San Diego bio-tech company, Gen-Probe. Klaus has since retired to enjoy the role of grandfather to 10 grandchildren. He even constructed a high-rise treehouse for the group in the backyard of his home.
Bobby Klaus signed his card in the set from an autograph request sent to his home on February 2, 2012.