Mar Vista resident David Kloser sees baseball as more than just a sport and he has written a book that focuses on how baseball transcends the field and carries into life experiences.
Kloser, 43, is head junior varsity baseball coach at Palisades High School and author of the recently published book, Stepping Up to the Plate: Inspiring Interviews with Major Leaguers.
While most coaches try to teach their athletes valuable life lessons outside of sports, Kloser took a different approach to try to show how baseball can be applied to life off the field.
He interviewed Major League players and incorporated their experiences and philosophies into his book.
Kloser interviewed more than 300 current and former Major League players — including some Hall of Famers — from all 30 Major League teams in order to create Stepping Up to the Plate.
When Kloser came up with the idea to write the book about two years ago, he said he wanted to focus on how children primarily can be influenced by baseball through Major League players.
By working with children as a coach at baseball camps, Kloser learned that youngsters also admire Major Leaguers for their character traits beyond their athletic skills.
He said he decided to find out what the players themselves can pass on to fans about the game.
“I thought, ‘Why not go to the players themselves and find out what their story is?’,” Kloser said.
Knowing that children look up to players as role models, Kloser wanted perspective from the players as “baseball experts” to influence children about the lessons the players have learned from the sport, he said.
“If the kids can take the lessons and apply them to life, then they can be Major Leaguers in any direction of life,” he said.
While the emphasis is on how the children can relate to the lessons, the book is a way to teach all people about the values of baseball, he said.
“I wanted it to reach as many kids and families as possible,” he said.
Baseball has been a part of Kloser’s life since his days playing in Little League, an experience that stayed with him as a competitor until he was a pitcher for the University of California at Berkeley team.
Through his lifelong involvement with the sport, Kloser says he has become aware of many important values, including commitment, dedication, loyalty and teamwork.
“It’s one sport that reflects life because sometimes you have to perform as an individual and also work with others and rely on them,” he said.
Stepping Up to the Plate is divided into six chapters and covers such messages that are valuable to life as the importance of a winning attitude and understanding the value of failure and how to turn it into success.
Kloser has tried to relate situations he faced in baseball to situations in his life.
If he comes across an unfamiliar challenge in life, he says he tries to “draw from a baseball experience” and see how he would approach a similar challenge on the field.
When Kloser first decided to interview Major League players and get their philosophies on baseball, it might have seemed like a far-fetched goal.
Kloser had no prior background in journalism and he had never written a book, but he dedicated himself to pursuing the goal and attempted to make media contacts with some of the teams.
“In a good sense, I said ‘I’m going to do this,’ and I put it out to everyone,” he said.
Kloser’s dream took some persistence, but his wife, Christine, was gracious enough to support the idea, he said.
A break finally came when he found a contact with the Detroit Tigers at the team’s 2003 spring training site in Florida.
Although he was a little nervous being in the presence of a big league team, Kloser finished the first day with 15 interviews.
After the visit with the Tigers, Kloser made his way to other teams by spreading the message of his book through any means possible.
By the 2003 regular season, Kloser had interviewed players from 12 Major League teams, and by June of the past season, he had visited every single team.
“It blew me away,” Kloser said.
Not only had he reached every team, but he had spent time with many big-name baseball stars, including Alex Rodriguez, Randy Johnson, Ken Griffey Jr., Albert Pujols, Hall of Fame inductee Paul Molitor and Curt Schilling of the World Series champion Boston Red Sox.
Most players were very supportive of the idea to pass on their perspective of the game’s impact on life.
“I was very appreciative for any time I got,” he said. “I got the sense that the players appreciated where I was coming from.”
Kloser interviewed each player for an average of about ten minutes and tried to find their passions for playing the game, he said.
While Kloser was able to chat with some of the game’s biggest stars, he was most excited to meet Alex Rodriquez of the New York Yankees.
Among his most inspiring interviews were with Bernie Williams of the Yankees and former Los Angeles Dodger Fernando Valenzuela, he said.
A quote by Williams opens the book and sums up the overall theme, because the statement relates to finding the passion for something in life and dedicating yourself to it, he said.
Stepping Up to the Plate can be ordered only on the Web at
www.steppinguptotheplate.com but Kloser has also donated the book as a giveaway item at many stadiums. The book is $14.95 plus shipping and handling.
Kloser’s vision to create a book about baseball and its life lessons allowed him to embark on an “incredible” journey, he said.
But more importantly, the book reaches out to fans of the game and lets them relate the messages to their own life.
“It tells people to step up to the plate in life,” he said. “There may be obstacles, but just go for it.”