Cieradkowski: Jack Kloza: Home runs, mosquitos, hats, and the Rockford Peaches

From SABR member Gary Cieradkowski at The Infinite Baseball Card Set on May 3, 2017:

Like so many of the players I write about, I found Jack Kloza while searching for something else. And, like so many of the outsiders I write about, what at first just seemed like a marginal career highlighted by a brief cup of coffee in the majors, turned out to be a very interesting tale on so many levels. I was drawn to this fella because the grainy 1936 newspaper article I found showed a guy who looked remarkably like a young Charles Bronson. A glance at the name “Kloza” and I could tell it was some kind of “Americanized” Polish name. A little more digging and I found out that Jack Kloza was indeed not only of Polish ethnicity, but was one of only four major leaguers to have been born in Poland. That alone was enough to add his name and clipping to my “to do” files. And then, as the years passed by, the “Kloza File” grew and grew, each new piece of his career making an already interesting character more appealing. Finally, with the Kloza File just under an inch thick, I spread it all out in my studio and began typing…

Note: Although every record book and internet database has him listed by a nickname of “Nap Kloza”, every single piece of research I have accumulated refers to him as “Jack Kloza” – the name “Nap” never appears in any contemporary newspaper story in my file. Because of this, I refer to him by the name of “Jack”.

Jack Kloza was born Jan Klojzy on September 7, 1903 in Siedliska, Poland. Siedliska is located in the south-eastern part of modern day Poland. This region was called Galicia, and had changed hands several times since Poland was divided between Russia, Germany and Austro-Hungary at the end of the 18th century. When Jan Klojzy was born in 1903, it was part of the Austro-Hungarian empire. Jan was the second child of Wawrzyniec and Franciszka, his sister Marta being born two years earlier. Shortly after his son’s birth, Wawrzyniec emigrated to the United States. After landing at Ellis Island, he proceeded west to Milwaukee where there was a large community of Galician Poles. He took odd jobs as a general laborer, and after five years had saved enough to secure passage to America for his wife and two children. Franciszka, Marta, and Jan sailed to America in the spring of 1908 and joined Wawrzyniec in Milwaukee. The family first lived on Dousman Street and then Bolton Street, both in the city’s predominantly Polish 13th Ward.

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Originally published: May 3, 2017. Last Updated: May 3, 2017.