By Steve LaMontia, Director of Communications
67-year-old Jerry Klemm resides in Falls Church, Virginia, a mere seven miles from our nation’s capital. He is the commissioner of the long-standing and amazingly successful 42-team DCMSBL and is league president Larry Lombardi’s right-hand man. His association with the league began in 1991 and his baseball resume also includes being a multi-year participant in the MSBL World Series in Arizona.
Because of Jerry’s lengthy association with MSBL and his dedication to the task of assuring that the DCMSBL remains one of the crown jewels in the MSBL family, MSBL Founder and President Steve Sigler has inducted Jerry into the 2022 class of the MSBL National Hall of Fame.
“This award means that I must be doing something right, though I don’t know what that may have been,” expressed Klemm. “It is very humbling. While it is a wonderful honor, it was never a goal. I did not expect this at all. I’m very thankful to Steve Sigler and others with the vision to find ways for grown men to play hardball. I have always been content to just get people locally to play ball. People are my focus and have always been.”
Jerry is a chiropractor, which generally makes him the most popular man in the league! He and Mariana have two sons, Jeremy and Christopher, a daughter Jenifer, along with two grandchildren, Caileigh and Max. They are understandably Jerry’s biggest supporters and have shared in his trips to Arizona for the World Series. He last participated in 2012 after beginning the journey in 1999.
“I do miss Arizona. A lot of it is a simple fact that I did not have to schedule things, arrange umpires, make sure the supplies are all there, field complaints, or repair fields. I could just show up, play, spend quality time with Mariana and the family, and not organize. Yes, I sure miss that.”
Back in DC, his plate remains full as Larry Lombardi’s sidekick as commissioner.
“I get the nasty stuff, like dealing with suspensions, ejections, and rule interpretations and challenges. I leave all of the administrative stuff to Larry. I am very proud of helping to create a league committee, comprised of five veteran players who determine what to do as a group so that I am not doing it alone. There are times it can slow the process if there are votes tied or something, but it’s not about speed. It’s about doing it right. I stay out of their discussions and I don’t vote unless needed. Their discussions are always very worthwhile.”
Jerry has since hung up the spikes (2012) and is purely administration, which is his way of staying close to the game and the friends he has made throughout the years. His baseball resume includes playing a year of college ball at George Mason University. After his first practice with the Mudhens in 1991 in the then 30-over DCMSBL, he was told he was the starting shortstop and clean-up hitter. He was officially back in the game!
“I miss the dugout craziness and interactions on the field but I can’t say I miss playing. I’ve been playing since I was five years old. I played long enough that I accomplished everything I wanted to so I’m satisfied that I left it all on the field. I also miss playing all those years in the Father/Son division of the World Series. We made some lasting memories there.”
Speaking of the World Series, are there any crazy moments?
“I first went in 1999 and was told I was going to catch. OK, no problem. Then I found out I was catching ex-pro Bill Lee! That was certainly a thrill. Afterward, he told me I could have gone somewhere in the game. Maybe he said that to everyone but it made me feel good. I also ended up catching every inning of the tournament. Welcome to Arizona, Jerry!”
Regarding the DCMSBL playbook, is there a directive that you and Larry strive to adhere to?
“We try very hard to give everyone a ‘level playing field’ and do whatever we can to make our coaches’ jobs as easy as possible. The late Roger Stanley and Jim Beck laid the groundwork for DCMSBL and allowed me to help run the league. The passionate players and coaches of the DCMSBL, under Larry’s guidance, are why we succeed. I thank them for putting up with me!
Also, the league benefits from the influence of current veterans like Garland Cooper and Tim O’Brien. Garland is about 75 now and keeps himself in remarkable physical shape and actually hit a wood-bat home run at 70! Tim is 73 and a rubber-armed pitcher. We are great friends. They are very solid people who are very supportive and an inspiration to all of us.”
I asked Jerry to share any final thoughts based on his over 30 years of involvement with MSBL.
“We are all out there to play baseball and none of this goes into our permanent file. If you can’t have fun on a baseball field, you can’t have fun anywhere. Yes, there is something about the elusive goal of wanting a championship ring. I was fortunate to get a ring with our Father/Son team in 2002. But once I had it, the ‘ring’ drive was gone. There was suddenly no sense of urgency so I was now out there to enjoy the experience.
If you win, wonderful. But at the end of the day, you want to laugh with the other team, umpires, and even the concession people. Enjoy the ride and understand how fortunate you are to still be able to play our great game.”