Chiefs Mourn Pitcher Ron Klimkowski
The Syracuse Chiefs were saddened to hear of the passing of righthanded pitcher Ron Klimkowski. The Jersey City native was 64 years old.
The “Klemmer” was signed by the Boston Red Sox in 1964 and spent parts of four seasons in the Boston minor league system before being traded to the New York Yankees along with lefthanded pitcher Pete Magrini, who also would pitch for the Chiefs, in August of 1967. The player he was traded for - Elston Howard.
Ron joined the Chiefs in August of the 1967 season and was 0-3 with a 6.30 ERA in just 3-starts for a Chiefs team that finished last. He would return to Syracuse to start the 1968 season and was 2-1 with a 5.14 ERA in 17 games pitching out of the bullpen. He would be assigned back to AA-Binghamton in July where he would spend the remainder of that year.
The 1969 season started with Klimkowski again making the Chiefs roster out of spring training but again buried in the bullpen. It wasn’t until injuries to Gary Jones and Mickey Scott and the poor performance of veteran Rich Beck that manager Frank Verdi inserted Klimkowski into the starting rotation on April 27th.
He would go on to make 24 starts for the Chiefs that season and put up numbers that made him the International League’s Most Valubale Pitcher and a member of the 1969 IL All Star team.
In 24 starts he completed 13 games, 10 in a row (July 11-August 25), He was 15-7 with a league best 2.18 ERA and allowed only eight home runs in 173 innings pitched. During the Chiefs run for the playoffs he notched nine consecutive wins from June 26-August 5th.
That season earned him a promotion to New York and he appeared in 3 games for the Yankees that season .
In 1970 he would spend the entire season with the Bronx Bombers going 6-7 with a respectable 2.66 ERA in 45 games that season, used mainly out of the bullpen.
With the hopes of moving into the Yankees starting rotation in 1971, the Yankees traded him along with lefty Rob Gardner to Oakland for outfielder Felipe Alou before the start of the season.
Ron pitched in 26 games for the A’s that year going 2-2 with a 3.40 ERA before being sent out to Iowa later that season.
In 1972 he falied to make the A’s club out of spring training and began the campaign back in Iowa before the Yankees re-acquired him and assigned him to the Chiefs. He would make 13 starts for the Chiefs going 5-5 with a 3.33 ERA. That led to another call -up to New York and he finished the ’72 season with the Yankees going 0-3 with a 4.06 ERA.
His career ended in 1973 with arm trouble and an in-effective 12 appearances for the Chiefs, he would be sent to AA-West Haven later that season.
Ron Klimkowski was a major part of the Syracuse Chiefs 1969 Governors Cup Championship team. He was also the starting pitcher the day Frank Baker hit that memorable home run over the scoreboard at MacArthur Stadium when the Chiefs defeated Louisville 4-3 in 10 innings.