Joe Klein, a familiar name to area fans who have followed minor league baseball in York, has died at the age of 75.
Klein died at Temple University Hospital from heart surgery complications on Wednesday morning, Aug. 23, according to an announcement from the Atlantic League.
The York Revolution baseball franchise has been a member of the Atlantic League for more than a decade.
Klein's long baseball career also included three seasons in York as a member of the White Roses (1965-67).
Klein presided over baseball operations as executive director of the Atlantic League since its inception in 1998. During his tenure, the league sent more than 800 players to major league organizations.
The York Revolution will honor Klein with a moment of silence before the game against the Somerset Patriots at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 23, at PeoplesBank Park.
“Our Atlantic League family has lost one of its greatest champions, and we’re saying goodbye to an amazing friend and baseball man,” York Revolution president Eric Menzer said in a news release. “From his days playing for the White Roses to his work on behalf of the Revolution and all the teams in the league, Joe was an integral part of the success of the sport he loved here in York. We owe him a lot and will miss him greatly.”
In a career that spanned six decades, Klein spent time as a player, manager, scout, scouting director and farm director before serving as general manager of the Texas Rangers (1983-84), Cleveland Indians (1986-87) and Detroit Tigers (1994-95). It was his role as a major league GM that earned Klein his most notoriety in baseball.
In 1997, when Atlantic League Founder Frank Boulton needed a baseball man to run the on-field operations of what would become a start-up league in 1998, he turned to Klein.
“Today is a very sad day for the Atlantic League and for baseball,” Boulton said in a news release. “Joe’s contributions to the game and the Atlantic League are immeasurable. He was a great leader who guided the development of our league for over 20 years with his knowledge, grace, and respect for every owner, front office staff member, manager, player and fan. There is a great hole in the heart of the Atlantic League today. But in time, it will fill in as we fondly remember our dear friend and mentor, Joe Klein.”
Klein was officially named executive director of the Atlantic League in 1998, a position he held until his death. During his tenure, the league hosted 37 million fans.
Klein is predeceased by his wife Cathy and is survived by his sons J.K. and Todd, daughters-in-law Ruth and Robin, and granddaughter Hannah.