Today it seems that we want to spend a great deal of time plotting how much a player grows as some sort of indicator that he is on the juice. The tell tale signs are said to be both body growth and growth in productivity as well, and then a sharp drop in the numbers. What would we think of a player who puts on 35lbs over a decade, including 15lbs in one season? We also see that over this same decade, that for the first six seasons he averages only about 12 home runs a season. Then for the last four seasons of the decade he averages almost 43? After this he plays six more seasons with an average of just over 6 home runs per season?
Many would assume he juiced, got caught and the numbers tell the tale. But do they really? Collectors are worried these days if the items they have of players that may fit a similar profile are worth what they paid for them or even worth having at all. I can tell you that I have items from a player who fits this profile and they are among my most prized sports memorabilia possessions.
The profile I have just described is not really a profile at all, but actual data on a real player and it all took place well over a half century ago. The player is Ted Kluszewski and all of this occurred long before the introduction of performance enhancing drugs. It was also long before players could afford, and I mean this literally, afford to spend the off season working out with a personal trainer and a nutrition consultant.
This is what contemporary information shows about the growth of “Big Klu”.
1947 Reds Spring Training Yearbook: 6’, 2”, 205lbs.
1948 Reds Spring Training Yearbook: 6’, 2”, 220lbs
1949 Reds Spring Training Yearbook: 6’, 2”, 220lbs
1950 Reds Spring Training Yearbook: 6’, 2”, 225lbs
1951 Reds Spring Training Yearbook: 6’, 2”, 225lbs
1952 Reds Yearbook: 6’, 2”, 230lbs
1953 Reds Yearbook: 6’, 2”, 230lbs
1954 Reds Yearbook: 6’, 2”, 230lbs
1955 Reds Yearbook: 6’, 2”, 236lbs
1956 Reds Yearbook: 6’, 2”, 240lbs
I have also plotted this against his home run production for you to see as well.
I have been closing my articles for some time with the phrase “enjoy what you collect and collect what you enjoy.” What others think of the players you collect is of little consequence unless you are concerned with monetary value as the overriding issue. While I am not willing to give the modern player a free pass in all cases, we can look to the past for similar examples of players who have put on the pounds and put up the numbers without any doubt that they were not taking performance enhancing drugs. Klu’s career ended far too soon and his numbers fell off not because of what he stopped taking, but because of what injuries took from him.
As we collect and study the numbers of the players that garner our attention for one reason or another, try to do with some sense of context and appreciation for the history of the game…I know I do.
As always, collect what you enjoy and enjoy what you collect.
MEARS Auth, LLC
For questions and comments on this article, please feel free to drop me a line at DaveGrob1@aol.com.