Winnetka, IL (PressExposure) September 28, 2006 -- There is a baseball superstar whose records have NEVER been surpassed, and yet a misjudgement almost 100 years ago never allowed him into the Baseball Hall of Fame. The National Baseball Commission was recently notified, and the outcome is still being decided.
Who was baseball's forgotten superstar? None other than the Chicago Cubs premier catcher of the deadball era, whose records have never been surpassed by any other player in the Major Leagues -- Johnny Kling. Kling helped the Chicago Cubs win two World Series and four major pennants. He was the brains behind Tinker, Evers & Chance, and yet was erroneously bad-mouthed as "the original holdout." No one knew the real story behind Kling's decision to take an indefinite leave of absence, till now. Why wasn't he given his rightful place in history?
Author Gil Bogen reveals history's secrets in the ONLY book on Kling, "Johnny Kling, A Baseball Biography." This book was recently released by McFarland & Company, with a foreword by Ernie Banks. Kling's baseball records of 1546 assists from 13 seasons of playing have never been matched. Besides that, Kling has been proven to be the first Jewish ballplayer of the 20th century, but he was erased from Jewish history books. AND -- he was also the first person to desegregate seating in a professional baseball park, and was never recognized for his courage. Instead, there are strong indications that the Klu Klux Klan rewarded him for his efforts by probably burning down his theatre. Stories like these have never been made public before.
Now, ninety-six years later, grandson John Kling and Bogen intend to right the wrongs done to the nation's first Jewish ballplayer of the 20th century, who began playing with the Cubs on September 1st, 1900 - June 11th, 1911. Bud Selig, National Baseball Commissioner, is reviewing facts never before studied in Kling's original contract. Based on the findings in Bogen's book, Johnny Kling, A Baseball Biography, (published by McFarland & Company) new light is being shed on why Johnny Kling was kept from Baseball's Hall of Fame.
History's records stated that Johnny Kling violated his 1909 contract because he was holding out for a larger salary. Not true. Bogen's book reveals the real reason why Kling needed an indefinite leave of absence in 1909: he needed to oversee management of his billiard emporium. Kling was a world famous billiards champion, and led many successful business ventures.
Kling was given verbal and written leave by Charles Webb Murphy, owner of the Chicago Cubs, on March 4th, 1909. March 4th was a key date. According to Kling's contract, he had to report to spring training forty days prior to April 15th, which would have been on March 6th. So, when Murphy gave Kling his indefinite leave on March 4th, Kling was legally within his rights to be granted time off.
The Seventh Annual Report of the National Baseball Commission, issued in 1911, will show that President Murphy confused the Commission when he gave Kling a second later leave of absence. They could not explain it. The new Johnny Kling book offers a reasonable speculation as to Murphy's actions. The report was signed by Garry Herrmann, Chairman of the National Baseball Commission and by Thomas A. Lynch, President of the National League.
After Kling passed away, in an attempt to help him get into the Hall of Fame, Kling's wife wrote to all the media and stated that her husband wasn't really Jewish. The act only served to erase Kling's name from Jewish history books, but never brought him his rightful place in the Hall of Fame.
"We're grateful to Bud Selig," says grandson John Kling. "He is wonderful in being willing to have my grandfather's records reviewed. We know that when this is done, it will be seen that the National Baseball Commission erred when it ruled that my grandfather violated his 1909 contract."
"He deserves to be in the Hall of Fame," states Bogen, whose findings uncovered the truth. "There was no one like him in history. No one could steal a base off Johnny Kling, not even Ty Cobb. He could throw a ball from a crouched position to save a few seconds, and that extra time made the difference. He also knew the strengths and weaknesses of every player on every opposing team."
Johnny Kling helped the Chicago Cubs win four pennants and two World Series, with his team mates Tinker, Evers & Chance. He also helped the team establish win-loss records that stand today. Kling also was the first person to desegregate seating in a professional park. Unfortunately, after facing anti-Semitism, Kling's religious affiliation was later obscured from the public.
Both Bogen and Kling encourage sports fans to petition the National Baseball Commission to allow Kling into the Hall of Fame.
A lifelong Chicago Cubs fan and former psychiatrist, Gil Bogen, 80, is also the author of the Seymour award-nominated baseball book, Tinker, Evers & Chance, A Triple Biography.