Back in 2008, the now Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League consisted of just one team, the Hampton Whalers, which played out of both Mashashimuet Park in Sag Harbor and Southampton High School, and was one of a handful of teams in the Kaiser Division of the now defunct Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League. Phil Klein was one of the very first pitchers to take the mound for the Whalers that year so it’s only fitting that he’s the first pitcher from the HCBL to reach the majors.
On Friday, Klein was called up by the Texas Rangers, the team that drafted him in the 30th round of the 2011 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, to join the big league club after putting in successful stints at the Double and Triple-A levels earlier this season. With the promotion, Klein became the second HCBL player to reach the majors—Nick Ahmed was called up by the Arizona Diamondbacks in late June.
Klein went 5-2 with a league-best 1.02 earned run average during his year with the Whalers. He pitched over 44 innings, gave up just 26 hits, walked 11 and struck out 40 batters in helping the Whalers to the Kaiser Division title. What he may be most remembered for, though, is the perfect game he threw for the Whalers that summer. It was the first perfect game in the 40-plus-year history of the ACBL.
Klein has a towering presence on the mound at 6-feet-7-inches, 260 pounds. The Columbus, Ohio, native played college ball at Youngstown State, where he was named to the All-Horizon League First Team the spring after his stint in Sag Harbor, his sophomore season, and he was named to the Second Team as a senior. Klein finished second on the career strikeout list (258) and sixth in innings pitched (252) at Youngstown.