Keller's black, bushy brows and muscular body inspired his alliterative nickname.
The talent-laden Yankees kept the lefthanded slugger in Newark (International League)
the season after he was the league batting champion and TSN Minor League Player of the Year for 1937. A place was made for him in 1939, and he hit .334 with the first of six Yankee pennant winners for which he would play. He was a five-time All-Star and reached highs of 33 HR and 122 RBI in 1941. He led the AL in walks with 106 in both 1940 and 1943. Keller 's career was interrupted
for maritime service in WWII. He had chronic back problems which eventually relegated
him to pinch hitting, and he led the league in that department (9-for-38) in 1951,
his final full season. Keller coached for the Yankees before retiring to rural Maryland
to run a horse farm. His brother Hal caught briefly for the Senators and spent over
20 years as a front-office man for the Senators, Rangers, and Mariners. His son,
Charlie Jr., led the Eastern League in hitting with a .349 average before being sidelined
by the same congenital back problem that had plagued his father.
FROM THE BASEBALL CHRONOLOGY
»January 10, 1938: Before a gathering of writers, players and executives in Baltimore, Jimmie Foxx, Chuck Klein, and Charlie Keller (representing the American League, National League, and IL) try out the balls to be used in the new season. The Sporting News reports (as noted by Dick Thompson) that ". . . regarding the dead ball, as adopted by the National League, and the lively ball, as retained by the American and International Leagues . . .the NL ball has a distinctly 'dead' sound coming off the bat, compared to the livelier AL ball."
»May 24, 1947: The Yankees edge into 3rd place ahead of the Red Sox, whipping Boston, 17–2. George Stirnweiss scores five runs and King Kong Keller four runs in the 17 hit attack. Joe DiMaggio has four hits and three runs.
»December 7, 1949: After ten years in pinstripes, Charlie "King Kong" Keller is released by the Yankees. He'll sign for a season in Detroit.
»August 15, 1977:
In a 2–1 win over Kansas City, Boston's Jim Rice hits a 3rd inning double and becomes the first Boston player since Ted Williams in 1939 to hit 20 homers, 20 doubles and 10 triples in a season. Between Williams and Rice, only Charlie Keller (1946), Joe DiMaggio (1948, '50) and Mickey Mantle (1955) had reached those levels.