Earlier this week Ole Miss basketball coach Andy Kennedy, proud of his team’s accomplishment with its APR scores, told me of his responsibility to help his guys be prepared for “when the ball stops bouncing, and it stops bouncing for all of us.”
In the case of Will Kline, the ball just stopped doing what he wanted it to do. He could no longer command it from the pitching mound, didn’t have the strength to make it work. Hall had a dominant junior season at Ole Miss, helping the Rebels to a super regional at Arizona State, then becoming the first player taken in the second round of the draft by Tampa.
But a shoulder problem showed up early in his minor league career, and he was never the same after surgery.
Kline recalls those those times here:
“Between the 2007 season and the 2008 spring training, which would have been my first spring training, I had a little bit of shoulder stiffness while trying to prepare myself for that spring training. I ended up flying down the St. Pete to get it check out. I had pretty significant labrum damage that definitely needed repair, so I had shoulder surgery that April, and I spent from April of 2008 to May of 2011 just trying to get back on the field and do what it was that I did, which was get people out. I never made it back. I had climbed the hill and fallen off quite a few times, so last May I decided that after one more setback I was going to call it quits.
“On a Friday I had a pretty significant setback. I had two innings scheduled to throw down in Fort Myers. I made it through my first inning then went out to throw my second inning, and I could barely get the ball to home plate. On Saturday morning I walked in and told them I really appreciated everything they had done for me and the opportunity but I thought this was going to be my time to go ahead and retire, but as teary-eyed as I was and scared to death, I did it. I just walked away and goofed off all last summer and got to Washington, D.C., last summer and learned that there are 100 United States senators, two for each state.”
These days, Kline is enjoying working in his official role as a legislative aide to Sen. Roger Wicker and his unofficial role as “consultant” with the Republicans as they prepare for the June 28 Congressional baseball game. With official baseball behind him, Kline, who has a degree in psychology, is considering his future.
“I’m trying to figure that out daily. I just feel blessed. The Lord has really done a lot in my life. Being without baseball has changed my focus more on Him. I trust him now more than ever. Where I might go I’m not sure. I just hope that when the time comes, the Lord will make me aware that that’s the right direction to take, and I’ll take it.”