Steve Kline long ago began coaching — wrestling.
This was during Kline’s professional career as a left-handed pitcher. He’d return home to near Lewisburg, Pa., for offseasons and work out with the local high school wrestling team to stay in shape, though Kline had never competed in that sport. He played basketball in the winters as a high school student.
Eventually, Kline became an assistant for the wrestling program at Lewisburg High School, his alma mater. He enjoyed coaching, though there was a distinctive Kline Rule when he was on the mat with team wrestlers.
“The kids were made well-aware, ‘Stay away from his left side. That’s the money side,’” said Jim Snyder, the Lewisburg High wrestling coach for 24 years.
When Kline’s 11-year stay in the major leagues ended as a San Francisco Giant in 2007, Brian Sabean, then the organization’s top baseball executive, asked Kline if he would be interested in a coaching position.
Kline, the proud son of a truck driver, rose through the San Francisco system as a pitching coach. He supervised the Double-A Richmond Flying Squirrels pitchers during 2015-17, returning this season. He spent 2018 and 2019 at Triple-A Sacramento.
Indiana University of Pennsylvania, a Division II school in Indiana, Pa., said Friday that Kline, 48, was hired as head baseball coach, the next step in a coaching career that began with Kline demonstrating take-downs and headlocks.
“I’m real excited about it,” said Kline, who will stay with the Flying Squirrels through most of August in a season that ends Sept. 19. “With my kids getting older, it’s a chance to see them more, the perfect opportunity there in Pennsylvania, with my roots right there. I couldn’t turn away from it.”
Kline has for decades been very involved in community work in and around Lewisburg, which is about 160 miles from Indiana, Pa., and said he intends to remain active in that capacity at his new address.
Based on last season’s record of 2-35, the IUP baseball program needs major repair. The Crimson Hawks, members of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference, haven’t had a winning season since 2015. Following the 2021 season, the school’s athletic department decided to make a leadership change in baseball.
“I thought it was a good chance for me to kind of go out there and mold these guys into better players, more well-rounded. These kids can have success and get their degrees as well, ” Kline said. “I just want these kids to soak in baseball and enjoy it, and play hard for me.”
Kline was drafted in the eighth round by Cleveland Indians out of West Virginia University in 1993, when he was named A-10 pitcher of the year.
“I’ve been around this game long enough that I realize I’d like to see the game change back a little bit to how I envision myself coaching,” Kline said.
For the Cleveland Indians (1997), Montreal Expos (1997-2000), St. Louis Cardinals (2001-04), Baltimore Orioles (2005) and San Francisco Giants (2006-07), Kline was known for his frequent appearances (89 in 2001) and toughness.
The Flying Squirrels closed their six-game series against Altoona (Pittsburgh Pirates) with a 7-3 win before 3,374 at The Diamond.
The Curve won four of the six games.
Vince Fernandez hit a two-run homer to punctuate Richmond’s five-run sixth inning. A pair of Altoona errors brought home three of those runs. Catcher Ronnie Freeman closed Richmond’s scoring with an eighth-inning homer off the scoreboard in left-center.
Returning to the Flying Squirrels (17-13) on Sunday was manager Jose Alguacil, who missed 11 games while managing the Venezuelan national team in an Olympic qualifying tournament.
Richmond, off Monday, starts a six-game series at The Diamond on Tuesday at 6:35 p.m. against Harrisburg (Washington Nationals).