Kline had a funny motion that one observer said made him look like “a drunken man coming home on skates.” Regardless, he was one of the more effective relief pitchers of the 1960s, after acquitting himself poorly as a starter in the 1950s. The tall right-hander had a vast repertoire of pitches.
“I don’t do anything special,” he said. “I throw a slider, curve, knuckler, and a slip pitch, which means I hold the ball deep in my palm and let it roll off my fingers. The big thing when I come in is to try to get the batter to beat the ball into the ground. I have discovered, like a lot of others before me, that relief pitching has its compensations.”
He pitched more than 50 games out of the bullpen in six consecutive seasons from 1963-1968, for the expansion Washington Senators, Minnesota Twins, and Pittsburgh Pirates (his second stint with the team). In 1965 he paced the American League with 29 saves while with the Senators. In ’68 the 36-year old went 12-5 with a 1.68 ERA in more than 112 innings of relief work.
A starter when he came up with the Pirates in 1952, Kline struggled with his control and also had a knack for surrendering the longball. He led the NL in losses twice before he was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals. He was purchased by the Los Angeles Angels in their expansion season in 1961, and then†bounced to the Detroit Tigers (who made him a full-time reliever), before his successful stint with the Nats in the ’60s. Kline pitched in three different decades, wrapping up his career in 1970 with the Atlanta Braves.
Kline is the only pitcher to defeat the Brooklyn Dodgers, the Los Angeles Dodgers, the New York Giants, the San Francisco Giants, the New York Yankees, and the New York Mets in the regular season.