Robert Klinchock is in Hagerstown to play with the Flying Boxcars

HAGERSTOWN – For those of you who have been missing baseball in Hagerstown, America’s favorite pastime has returned to the Hub City. The Flying Boxcars, Hagerstown’s new baseball team, will be coming to Meritus Park.

Their first game is tonight in York. We caught up with one of the left-handed pitchers for the team, Robert Klinchock from Pittsburgh, who is very much looking forward to getting on the mound.

He said, “I’m happy to be here, excited to start playing tomorrow for opening day. I’m just really excited to finally have another season locked and loaded.”

NEWS TALK 1037FM’s Allison Trobaugh, Greencastle, said, “We are a host family for him. He is in pursuit of just getting back up to the bigs. We’re excited to host him as one of the pitchers for the Flying Boxcars out of Hagerstown.”

What brought Klinchock to Hagerstown?

He said, “It’s definitely close to home. That kind of played a huge role in it. I also just like the area. We’re about 45 minutes from Winchester, so I’ve got all my old college buddies hitting me up. Also the league that we’re in is pretty good. There’s a bunch of guys that have a whole lot of time in the bigs, a lot of guys with experience, so for me, it’s just another step towards the ultimate goal. All in all, it’s just a great place to be.”

The inaugural season for the Flying Boxcars will begin in May. 

Klinchock said, “The field is in is absolutely beautiful. All the guys are super excited to kind of get going, even though camp was only two weeks long, guys have been ready to go since day one. They know what it means to have baseball back in this town and this city, so we’re all pretty much excited just to get going and play some good ball.”

Trobaugh asked, “I’m curious as to how all of you in two weeks time are melting together to really create this good, strong team atmosphere for Hagerstown? We were used to having a lower level with the Suns in Hagerstown for a long time. Lots of people would come out and support them. Here we should expect a higher level of play with guys who are really, they’ve been there before. They know what it takes to get back there. What’s it like working with a team load of those guys?”

Klinchock said, “It’s awesome. Everyone has a different story, a different way to do things. So just being able to kind of sit down and just hang out with guys, pick their brains, see what makes them click, that plays a huge role in this kind of atmosphere because we’re all trying to get back to the same goal here. So to be able to kind of learn from everybody, learn from guys that have been in the big leagues, guys that have been up to Triple-A, everyone has a different story. But that also kind of helps us kind of get into a nice solid family, a solid group, just because we have such a common goal. We’ve all kind of been around and playing for a while, so that is pretty easy to kind of mesh quick, with such a short camp, but it’s just great to be around with guys with a whole bunch of experience.”

Klinchock has been all over the country as well as North America to play baseball, so why did he pick the Atlantic League? 

He said, “I kind of saw that it’s a chance to show what I can do. If you want to be in the big leagues, you’ve got to show that you can do it and there’s no better way to do it than in a league full of ex-big leaguers. For me it was a step forward and a step to where now I can show what I can truly do.”

Will Klinchock be on this weekend?

He said, “I think as of now, I’ll be working out of the bullpen. So basically hot every single day, could throw four of the four games this week in York. Could throw none of them. I’m not too sure, but starting the season off in the bullpen is where I’ve been the last couple of years, so it’s nothing new to me and I’m just ready to go out and help the team win.”

How does Klinchock pitch?

He said, “I’m kind of in between, not fully on the side, not fully over the top. It’s classified as low three quarters. I used to be straight over the top, and then getting to college, I kind of toned things back down.”

The Sandlot is his favorite baseball movie.

Klinchock said, “Sandlot’s a classic. Major League is up there for me, too, but Sandlot’s probably top for 90% of the guys.”

Here is his scouting report: 

He said, “Low 90’s sinker, with a slider, cutter and a changeup.”

Anthony Panasiewicz of NewsTalk 103.7FM noted, “That’s a good amount out of the bullpen.”

Trobaugh asked, “What can you tell our tri-state area the importance of having a sold out crowd at every game at the Hagerstown Flying Boxcar’s new stadium? What would it mean to you?”

Klinchock said, “It’s going to be some great ball. We’re definitely going to put on a show. We’re going to play some good baseball. I’m excited for it. The guys are excited for it. We feed off the crowd a lot, the crowd plays a huge role in it. So if we can have a sold out crowd every night that’d be amazing. I know most guys, including myself, love to stay after, sign some autographs, meet some fans.”

What’s a typical day like before the game?

Klinchock said, “I’ve heard some weird pregame habits but for me, we’ll get to the field, stretch, throw. I kind of like just to chill, hang out, play some cards, eat some food. Then probably around an hour or so before the game, I’ll kind of start to lock it in, put the headphones on, play some music and then just kind of get dressed and then head out a half an hour before the game starts. Most of the guys have played in this league, know each other. So there’s some back and forth stuff, but it’s just guys messing around.”

There’s been some talk in the news about Artificial Intelligence taking the place of the umpires.

Trobaugh said, “I’ve witnessed some really great umpires and I’ve witnessed now some, even in the higher levels, with our son planning baseball in college and then you go and you watch the MLB and you’re thinking how does he still have a job? I think the AI would probably be a lot better. I think there are other issues within baseball and the rules that have been changing that I would dislike more than that.”

Klinchock said, “I still like having the human element of baseball, but I do think there should be guys that if they’re good behind the plate, they stay behind the plate. If you have to pay them more, so what? There’s guys shouldn’t be calling games behind the plate and those guys shouldn’t be allowed to do it. Once they figure out who’s good and who’s bad behind the plate, just let guys stay behind the plate all year and then you bring other guys in as needed.”

Trobaugh noted, “Nothing could throw your rhythm off as a pitcher than to be throwing strikes and they’re not giving it to you.”

Klinchock agreed, “It’s frustrating, but calls come and go on both sides and at the end of the day, it usually evens itself out. I’m kind of old school when it comes to umpires. I don’t want the automated strike zones. I don’t want any of that. If you’re good behind the plate, then just stay behind the plate.”

What’s it like going up against players that could have been in the World Series?

Klinchock said, “It’s going to be a ton of fun. I can’t really be too fanboy about it, but it’s definitely fun. It’s like I watched you play in the World Series and now I get to face you. That’s pretty cool, but at the end of the day I’ve still got to get him out at some point. It’ll be a fun challenge for sure, but I’m up for it and the guys on the team are up for it. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

For the full interview – click HERE!