Monday, June 27, 2011

Jason Klonoski

Sent: 6/16/11
Received: 6/24/11
Time: 8 Days
Address: Home
Item Sent: 1991 ProCards Kenosha Twins, 1993 Fleer/ProCards Nashville Xpress
Item Received: 1991 Classic Best Kenosha Twins, 1991 ProCards Kenosha Twins, 1992 Fleer/ProCards Orlando SunRays, 1992 Skybox Pre-Rookie Orlando SunRays, 1993 Fleer/ProCards Nashville Xpress.  All signed in black Sharpie.

I appreciate every single autograph I have acquired since beginning this blog fourteen months ago.  I do not require a personal response beyond the signature, but when I do receive one it does make the success truly memorable.  By that measure, this return from former Twins pitching prospect Jason Klonoski is one of the best I've ever had.

Klonoski was signed by the Twins in 1991 and had three outstanding years as a left-handed relief pitcher in the minor leagues.  He split 1991 between two levels of A ball (Kenosha and Visalia), combining for a 2.69 ERA, nine saves, and 8.2 strikeouts per nine innings.  He posted similar stats in AA over the next two seasons, then oddly disappeared from pro ball.  I suspected an injury must have been a factor.  Otherwise it would have been pretty inexplicable for a lefty with his track record to not even get a shot at the Majors.

A few days before the cards arrived, Mr. Klonoski e-mailed my wife at work, asking to verify the legitimacy of my request.  He has had his identity stolen on multiple occasions and was simply doing his due diligence.  Still, it caught her off guard.  Once she vouched for my strange hobby, though, she and Jason actually discovered that they work in similar fields.

I also responded to Jason, apologizing for alarming him with my unsolicited letter.  We exchanged a few e-mails discussing a variety of subject, including vinyl records, his work with The Challenge Foundation and Team CFA (building schools in inner city and rural areas), and of course baseball.  He confirmed that injuries, specifically torn ligaments in his wrist, played a part in his retirement from baseball. Coming back from that, but faced with the 1994 strike, he was having difficulty finding work in baseball.  He wrote in an e-mail to me, "As you stated, I can’t find another lefthander with a career ERA under three that didn’t get a shot, let alone a job."  After weighing his options, he took his finance degree and set forth on a path that eventually led him to the outstanding work he's doing today.  It seems to have worked out well for him.

Thanks for the great experience, Jason.  It's been a pleasure.  Thanks for the three extra cards, too!

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