Former Pirates Pitcher Kline Dies
By ALAN ROBINSON
.c The Associated Press
06/22/02 19:09 EDT
PITTSBURGH (AP) - Ron Kline, a former star reliever who won 114 games during a 19-season major league career that began with the Pittsburgh Pirates, died Saturday at his home. He was 70.
Kline was hospitalized earlier in the week for heart and kidney problems, but died at his home in Callery, Pa., according to the Pirates. The cause of death was not immediately known.
``He had major league talent but was always a small-town guy at heart,'' former Pirates teammate Steve Blass said Saturday. ``He was a great guy who worked hard and played hard. He was a great competitor on the mound and liked to have fun off it.''
Kline, a starter early in his career who later became an accomplished reliever, went 114-144 with a 3.75 ERA in 736 games while pitching for nine teams. He had three stays with the Pirates, who originally brought him to the majors in 1952.
Kline went 14-18 in 1956, 13-16 in 1958 and 11-13 in 1959 with Pittsburgh before being dealt to the Cardinals for outfielder Gino Cimoli and pitcher Tom Chaney in 1960, when the Pirates went on to win the World Series.
Kline later pitched for the Tigers, Angels, Senators and Twins, never making a start after 1961. He made the conversion to a late-innings reliever with Washington, saving an AL-leading 29 games in 1965. He had 23 saves in 1966.
Known as the ``Callery Hummer,'' Kline returned to the Pirates in 1968, going 12-5 with seven saves and a career-low 1.68 ERA. He also pitched for the Red Sox and Giants in 1969 before finishing the year with Pittsburgh.
His final season was 1970, when he was 0-0 with one save in five games for Atlanta. Among the 218 homers he gave up in his career were the first by Hall of Famer Willie McCovey and the 200th by Hank Aaron.
Going into the 2002 season, he was tied for 81st all-time with 108 career saves.
After retiring from baseball, he was the mayor of Callery, a small Butler County community located north of Pittsburgh.
Funeral arrangements are incomplete.