- P, 3B
- March 9, 1932
- 6' 3"
- 205 lbs
- Major League Debut:
- 4-21-1952 with PIT
Ronald Lee Kline (March 9, 1932-June 22, 2002) was a former professional baseball player. He was a right-handed pitcher over parts of seventeen seasons (1952, 1955–1970) with the Pittsburgh Pirates, St. Louis Cardinals, Los Angeles Angels, Detroit Tigers, Washington Senators, Minnesota Twins, San Francisco Giants, Boston Red Sox and Atlanta Braves. For his career, he compiled a 114-144 record in 736 appearances, most as a relief pitcher, with a 3.75 earned run average and 989 strikeouts.
Ron Kline was Mark Fidrych even before there was a Mark Fidrych, always beginning each pitch with his unique ritual of touching his hat, belt and shirt before sending the ball towards home plate. What Kline also did was turn his career around from being a non-descript starter on some poor Pirate teams in the 50’s to being one of the best bullpen ace’s in the next decade, leading the junior circuit in saves in 1965.
Kline entered the show in a not so memorable way, losing all seven decisions in 1952 while walking 66 men in only 78 2/3 innings, striking out a mere 27 batters. He would be drafted into the military following the season and went on to serve two years missing the ’53 and ’54 campaigns. When he returned, he did win a few games but ended up 1955 with a 6-13 mark. While he reduced his bases on balls to 53 in 136 2/3 innings he ended up dishing out 161 hits.
Although eventually, he became a serviceable starter, he still led the league in losses twice, with 18 in 1956 and 16 two years later, had a record of 53-83 with the club that not only included some of their worst seasons in the 50’s, but their two best in 1958 and 1959. He also was involved in some less than desirable accomplishments during his stay in the Burgh. He was the opposing pitcher when Don Newcombe became the only NL hurler in the decade to steal home after he smacked a triple off Ron. Kline also was the man who gave up the first of Willie McCovey’s 521 homers in 1959.
After his undistinguished first tenure with the club, Kline was sent to the Cards in exchange for Gino Cimoli, a pivotal member off the bench for the 1960 world champions, and pitcher Tom Cheney. Kline went on to have one of his poorest seasons in St Louis finishing 4-9 with a 6.04 ERA. He went on to the Angels and Tigers after that season before ending up in Washington with the Senators in 1963. It was there that Kline finally found his calling as he was sent to the Bullpen fulltime and responded with ERA’s of 2.79, 2.32, 2.63 and 2.39 respectively. His 2.55 cumulative ERA was far under his career 4.14 mark he had to that point. Ron also saved 83 games during his four years in the nations capitol including 29 in 1965 which was tops in the junior circuit.
The Pennsylvania native was dealt to the Twins following the ’66 campaign and began his second and more successful stint in the Steel City the following season when Joe L Brown dealt Bob Oliver in December of 1967 to reacquire the hurler. Kline responded with his finest season ever going 12-5, 10 wins coming consecutively, with a career low 1.68 ERA and 7 saves.
Kline’s phenomenal ’68 season turned out to be his last as he ballooned up to a 5.81 ERA the following season and was traded to the Giants in mid season for pitcher Joe Gibbon. Ron would play only one more season and retired after a 1970 stint with the Braves finishing his 17-year stay in the show with 114 wins and 108 saves.
Nine Other Players Who Debuted in 1952
Career highlights and awards
* Led the AL in Saves (29) in 1965
Pittsburgh Pirates Encyclopedia
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