To say baseball has been an integral part in Jarrod Klausman's life would simply be an understatement.
Klausman has truly excelled from the moment he has stepped onto the baseball diamond as a young phenom in the East End Little League, which his grandfather Al Klausman was a co-founder of. Playing for his father, Jim, for Ye Olde Hobby Shoppe and Dean Patterson, his teams lost only eight games in the five years.
In his final year as a 12-year-old in 1995, with Klausman leading the way, the team went 29-1, en route to a league title and a Dean Patterson Little League World Series championship. Klausman, not surprisingly enough, was named the tournament's most valuable player.
Klausman said the key to his development as a baseball player was playing for his father.
"In the 25 years [Jim Klausman] coached, he has stressed learning the fundamentals of the game," Klausman said. "And the rest of it will fall into place. He's always stressed doing things the right way and treating your opponent with respect."
Jim Klausman started an Altoona entry in the Central Penn Legion in the summer of 1999. The team included Jarrod and little league teammate and current Altoona Greater City League teammate Troy Pincherri. The team lost twice in the championship series to State College.
Klausman played in the Pennsylvania American Legion All-West game twice, at Three Rivers Stadium and PNC Park. As a 16-year-old, he played in the all-state all-star game held in Harrisburg, the highest honor for a Legion player in this state.
He also did quite a bit of winning in his high school and AAABA career. Playing for Altoona Area High School during his senior season in 2001, Altoona went 22-3 and won a District 6 Class AAAA championship, but lost to Moon Township in the PIAA quarterfinals. During his final season playing for Johnston Realty, Klausman's team won the AAABA Regional Tournament, before falling to New Orleans in the third round of the National Tournament in Johnstown.
Collegiately, Klausman played for his first two years for NCAA Division I's University of Richmond, where he teamed with future San Diego Padres baseball pitcher Tim Stauffer. After Klausman took a medical red-shirt, he transferred to Division III powerhouse Marietta College in Ohio, where they won a national championship during Klausman's senior year in 2006.
He excelled Marietta, going 91-for-206 (.442 average), drove in 36 runs, hit 13 doubles, four triples, scored 51 runs, hit one home run and had an on-base percentage of .496. One of the highlights of the championship run was beating Jordan Zimmerman, a future star pitcher for the Washington Nationals.
He also finished the year on a 22-game hitting streak and earned first-team Ohio Athletic Conference, first-team Mid East Region and Rawlings All-American honors. He was also awarded the Way-Weigelt Award, which the Marietta College athletic department gives to a male athlete every year for athletic achievement, leadership and character.
In addition to winning that national title in his senior year at Marietta, Klausman also met his wife, Christie, during a family day event. Christie's brother was a teammate of Jarrod.
"It was an amazing year," Klausman said. "We just celebrated our four-year anniversary on July 4."
In 2007, Klausman had the opportunity to play professional baseball, playing in the Frontier League for the Washington Wild Things and the Slippery Rock Sliders.
"It's every little kid's dream to play professionally," Klausman said. "I looked at it as a huge opportunity to play there. That made all the years of hard work worth it."
For the past four years, Klausman has helped turn JnD Guns into a perennial Altoona Greater City League championship contender with his play. After Wednesday's game, Klausman is hitting .429 (21-for-49), with 19 runs scored, seven RBIs and three doubles. Although he is 30 years old now, he has no plans on giving up the game any time soon.
"I love baseball," Klausman said. "I'll keep playing until I can't play anymore."
Klausman's two younger brothers, Josh, 28, and Jordan, 26, also both grew up playing baseball. For the past few years, Jordan has played with Jarrod on the JnD Guns team.
"It's so cool that Jordan and I still get to play together now," Jarrod said.
"With four competitive males living under one roof, my mother [Denise] played peacemaker a lot."
Klausman is now a social studies teacher for the Hollidaysburg Area School District. He and his wife are expecting a baby boy next month. Klausman said he hopes to follow in his father's footsteps.
"I remember all the times where he'd take me to Geesey [Park] and hit balls to me and pitch to me,'' Jarrod said. "I just hope I'm half the father he is."