Nickname:   THUMPER Position:   1B, LF
Home: Covington, Georgia Team:   Retired
Height: 6' 3" Bats:   L
Weight: 225 Throws:   L
DOB: 6/12/1971 Agent: Joe Sambino
Birth City: Westminster, California Draft: Braves #5 - 1989 - Out of Westminster H.S. (Calif.)
Uniform #: N/A  
1989 GCL Braves   17 57 14 23 5 4 1 16 4   6 6     .404
1989 SAL SUMTER   25 90 17 26 6 0 1 12 1   11 14     .289
1990 SAL SUMTER     231 41 85 15 1 10 38 13   31 30     .368
1990 CAR DURHAM     292 40 80 16 1 7 47 10   32 53     .274
1991 SL GREENVILLE     419 64 122 22 3 14 67 14   75 60     .291
1992 IL RICHMOND     418 63 105 22 2 17 59 3   41 72     .251
1992 NL BRAVES $109.00 13 14 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 5 .067 .000 .000
1993 IL RICHMOND     343 59 94 14 2 22 74 4   47 69     .274
1993 NL BRAVES $109.00 22 17 3 6 1 0 2 5 0 0 3 4 .450 .765 .353
1994 NL BRAVES $112.00 92 245 42 68 13 3 17 47 1 0 26 48 .344 .563 .278
1995 NL BRAVES $190.00 107 329 48 102 25 2 23 70 5 4 47 72 .396 .608 .310
1996 NL BRAVES $315.00 153 528 90 149 21 4 34 93 6 3 68 129 .364 .530 .282
1997 NL BRAVES $2,450.00 143 467 67 122 23 6 24 84 4 4 48 130 .334 .490 .261
1998 NL BRAVES $3,500.00 129 427 69 117 29 1 18 70 5 3 56 66 .359 .473 .274
1999 NL BRAVES $4,750.00 133 404 55 120 28 2 21 80 5 2 53 69 .376 .532 .297
2000 NL PADRES $5,750.00 145 494 88 140 33 2 26 92 23 7 91 81 .393 .516 .283
2001 NL PADRES $5,750.00 146 538 105 154 34 6 30 113 23 4 88 89 .384 .539 .286
2002 NL PADRES $6,000.00 146 540 90 162 39 1 29 95 6 2 76 86 .388 .537 .300
2003 NL PADRES $5,500.00 121 397 47 100 18 0 21 67 2 5 65 83 .354 .456 .252
2004 NL PADRES $6,000.00 127 402 58 117 32 2 9 66 3 2 73 67 .399 .448 .291
2005 NL PADRES $9,000.00 137 443 61 110 19 1 18 58 3 4 75 80 .358 .418 .248
2006 CAL LAKE ELSINORE   8 22 2 6 2 0 0 1 0 0 5 5   .364 .273
2006 NL PADRES   6 4 0 3 1 0 0 2 0 0 2 0 .833 1.000 .750
2007 NL GIANTS $1,750.00 116 362 51 94 27 3 6 44 5 1 46 68 .344 .401 .260


  • Ryan's preparation for a baseball career: His Mom, Lorene, would sit on a bucket in their backyard and, without equipment, catch her son. That ended when Ryan was 15 and threw a hard curve that broke sharply, nailed Lorene on the ankle and laid her up in the hospital for nearly a week.

    Known as "Mama K" in their neighborhood, Mrs. Klesko worked in a computer-packaging plant in Westminster, California. The chemicals used in the plant were so strong that they burned her throat and much of her respiratory system, causing her to be bed-ridden for a few years, starting in April 1992, and sending Ryan home twice during one season when he was in the minors. But she is fine, now.

    "My Mom's always been my biggest supporter," Klesko says. "My parents divorced when I was young, and we didn't have much money. But she always found enough money to take me to pitching school and to set up a place in the backyard so I could work on my hitting."

  • Ryan's Mom has to take six different medications and use a breathing apparatus to counter the effects of the above-mentioned chemical leak that burned her lungs and throat at her job site. Lorene raised Ryan and his two sisters after she and Howard divorced when Ryan was in junior high.

  • Ryan's parents, Howard and Lorene, knew about dangerous work. Howard was the manager of an oil well when a co-worker, maneuvering heavy equipment, accidentally backed into him. The elder Klesko's knee was smashed and the trauma caused a minor heart attack.

  • Ryan left 1993 spring training for a few days after learning his father had suffered a stroke. His Dad is also fighting to overcome a weak heart.

  • A lefty pitcher, Ryan was compared to Greg Swindell and a cinch first-round pick. But, he caught a spike on his follow-through while throwing a fastball and heard his elbow pop. He had stretched ligaments in the elbow, a serious injury. So he simply became a great hitting prospect, again attracting loads of scouts.

  • When Klesko first reported to rookie ball in Bradenton, Florida, he recalls, "We had three or four guys in a room. We had bunk beds, no TV, no phone -- hot as heck. I had never been in such humidity before and it was unbelieveable. I wanted to go home. I wanted to give their money back and go home."

    He was homesick at first, but Ryan explains: "When I signed my contract, it was a real weird situation. I had some friends coming from Australia I had known from when I was on the Junior Olympic team. I told them I wasn't going to go play Rookie ball so I could wait for these guys. Well, they sent me to play for a week and let me come home for a week and a half. Then I went back to play again. No one could understand that, especially in baseball. That just doesn't happen, but they let me do it," Klesko said.

  • On his minor league career, Ryan says, "Willie Stargell really has helped me a lot. I can't thank him enough. he helped me quite a bit in the minor leagues coming up through the system, so I owe a lot to him."

  • He says Willie Stargell is the person who influenced him most in baseball, but his mother influenced him most in life.

  • Ryan lives for baseball. He doesn't want to be good, he wants to be great. And when he becomes great, he wants to become the best. He's a hard worker, with dedication and commitment.

  • Klesko thinks his pitching background still comes in handy. "I went to pitching school for eight years, so I know a lot about pitching," Ryan said. "I think that gives me an advantage sometimes in hitting, because I know what they're going to throw."

  • Ryan has a monster truck. "I just love trucks," he says. "It's a monster. It used to be a show truck for a year and they guy fixed it up really nice. It's one of the biggest trucks in Florida."

  • In 1993, Ryan was fined $100 by the International League after throwing his bat at Charlotte pitcher Bill Wertz. Wertz threw a pitch behind Ryan in an at-bat after Klesko had homered. The incident triggered a brief brawl.

  • Klesko's first job was in roofing.

  • His boyhood hero was Reggie Jackson. Ryan was a California Angels fan while growing up.

  • His favorite movie of all time: "Strange Brew." Mel Gibson is his favorite movie star.

  • Klesko's favorite meal is seafood, with cheesecake for dessert.

  • He says if he weren't a baseball player, he would be involved in business or real estate.

  • He played soccer, football and baseball as a kid.

  • Ryan says his best friend in baseball was George Virgilio.

  • Rhyno uses a Rawlings glove and batting glove, Reebok spikes and all different kinds of bats.

  • His favorite music group is probably Pearl Jam.


  • A couple of Klesko's hobbies are fishing and hunting.

  • During the offseason after the 1995 campaign, Ryan surfed in Costa Rica and St. Croix, went deer hunting in Georgia, ice fishing in Vancouver, and even fit in a little bit of time to again train with the SWAT Team of Palm Beach, Florida.

  • He had trained with the SWAT Team during the baseball strike that ended the 1994 season. Klesko worked with snipers and fired semiautomatic weapons. He sat in on meetings as the group prepared for drug busts and even accompanied the team on a raid of a crack house. While the unit surrounded the building, Klesko, clad in black clothing and a bullet-proof vest, waited in a van until the building was secure. He came away from the experience with a greater appreciation of law enforcement. He says he'd like to attend the police academy and get his badge.

    "I've always had a lot of respect for people in that line of work," Ryan said. Now, he has in his contract that he won't go out with SWAT teams or even that he will surf. So he's toned down his activities. But, he says he still surfs. "Surfing is something I've always done and I don't think it's particularly dangerous unless I drown. I just have to insure myself."

  • He has a collection of more than 30 rifles, pistols, and shotguns.

  • After the 1997 season, Ryan bagged a 450-pound elk on one of Braves' owner Ted Turner's ranches in New Mexico.

  • Ryan collects sports memorabilia. He attended the auction in 1999 of the Barry Halper collection. Among the items Klesko purchased: the lizard-skin cowboy boots of the late Billy Martin.


  • Klesko became a part-owner of Carolina Clubs, the bat company that's made his bats for years. They are located in Palm Beach, Florida. Now, the company has branched out into furniture making.

  • Klesko wears a T-shirt that states simply, "Carolina Clubs -- No Cork Needed." It is an advertisement for Carolina Clubs, the small, Boca Raton, Florida-based bat company owned by the Lane brothers. "He's helped us tons," Tom Lane said. "Not only by using our bats, but by being honest with us. Telling us what's good about our bats and what needs to be fixed."

  • In 1999, a group of guys Ryan went to high school with got together and started a clothing line. "The company's name is Mindless Reaction. We sell casual wear: surfing clothes, nice shorts, shirts, hats. It's basically a Southern California clothing line," Klesko explained.

  • Ryan has a steady girlfriend: Michelle Penzenik of West Palm Beach, Florida.

  • During the All-Star break in July 1997, Ryan proposed to Michelle Penzenik at a waterfront restaurant in Disney World. Klesko ordered an entree for the couple that came in a huge dish shaped like a Cinderella glass slipper. When the waiter brought the meal, it contained roses, chocolates, and a written proposal. Her acceptance coincided with a fireworks display over the water.

  • During 1996 spring training, Ryan agreed to the framework for a four-year deal with an option for a fifth, a package worth as much as $13.5 million. But one of Klesko's agents, Randy Hendricks, accused the Braves of going behind his back and dealing directly with his client. Hendricks says Braves' GM John Schuerholz tried to sucker Klesko into a bad deal.

  • Ryan loves playing for the Padres. "From day one, they made me feel like I fit in with their plans," Klesko told Baseball America. "John Moores is a team owner who is tremendous. He cares for his players like they are his own family, and I wasn't used to an organization like that. Then, you have the general manager, Kevin Towers, and the manager, Bruce Bochy. You can talk to them, and the door's always open."

  • During 1998 spring training, Ryan rented Shaquille O'Neal's 22,000-square-foot mansion in Orlando, not far from the Braves' spring camp.

  • Klesko is sponsoring a 60-and-over female softball team in the Senior Games, held in October 1999 in Orlando. His team is from Rockdale County, outside Atlanta.

  • Ryan has a tattoo band on his right biceps. It is a crown of thorns with a centerpiece cross. He said he chose the design because it was "meaningful to me."

  • Klesko has a 250-acre ranch in Covington, Georgia complete with beautiful log home and his beloved hunting dogs. Travis Tritt comes around sometimes. So do Brooks and Dunn, as do some of the guys from Lynrd Skynrd. To hang around with Ryan, you'd swear he was a Georgia boy. But he is actually a SoCal kid, raised near Huntington Beach. Indeed, he calls himself a Southern California redneck.

  • Klesko was, and still is, a good friend to John Rocker. "Not that I agree with what he did or said, but John is a good person. He's got an attitude. He's young and rebellious and he couldn't understand New York. I mean, nobody likes having batteries thrown at you. But he went too far," Klesko said.

  • Ryan is all about energy. He gets up every morning at 6:30 a.m. And he does something with his time -- hunting, fishing -- whatever. "He's nonstop," said former girlfriend Amy Hamrick, who was also Ryan's personal trainer (that's how they met). "I just got bored with other boyfriends. You can't get bored when you're around Ryan."

  • Klesko says that when he retires from playing baseball, he is going to the police academy and get a badge. "Maybe I'll work with Major League Baseball Security," he said.

  • In 2000, Klesko began doing vision exercises that really started paying off in 2001. "I call them eye push-ups. I focus on things like a string with different colored beads, and it improves the strength of the eyes. Since I started doing them, I've been seeing the ball a lot better."

  • In 2002, Klesko was suspended for five games and pitcher Bobby Jones for seven games of the regular season for their roles in a brawl-filled spring training game on March 9. The Angels' Scott Spiezio was suspended for six games. Anaheim's Aaron Sele, who hit Klesko with a pitch that triggered the first of two fights, was fined but not suspended.

  • Ryan loves to hunt, fish and surf. The surfing raises eyebrows on some front office and management people. But Padres manager Bruce Bochy has no problem with Klesko's activities.

    “He doesn't play golf or poker like most players,” said Bochy. “He loves the outdoors. One thing about Ryan, he takes excellent care of himself. He doesn't stay out late and abuse himself. His interests are different. I do think he'll have a good year. He knows what's at stake.”


  • 1989: The Braves signed him for about $135,000.

  • January 1998: Klesko signed a four-year, $20.5 million pact with the Braves.

  • December 1999: The Padres sent 2B Quilvio Veras, 1B Wally Joyner and OF Reggie Sanders to the Braves to acquire Ryan, 2B Bret Boone and P Jason Shiell.

  • May 2000: Ryan signed a three-year, $18.75 million contract extension with the Padres.

  • June 2002: Ryan signed a two-year extension with the Padres, getting $16.5 million total in 2005-2006. The deal includes a comprehensive no-trade clause.

    "It's very important," Klesko said. "I want to be here and help this club win and to help these kids. I didn't want to be shipped off if they decide they don't want to pay me. It was important because I'm impressed with this organization from top to bottom; we have a good farm system, and I think we're going to win with Boch and KT (general manager Kevin Towers). And I'm a Southern California guy."
  • December 19, 2006: Klesko signed with the Giants. The contract called for a base salary of $1.75 million and included incentives that could pay Klesko another $2 million if he reaches 550 plate appearances.


  • Ryan is a big, strong guy who can pound the ball. But for a power hitter, he has good discipline at the plate. He knows about hitting. He studies pitchers and knows their tendencies. That is why he maintains a good on-base percentage.
  • His bat speed is outstanding. He has exceptional plate discipline, bat quickness, and power. He has the ability to pull the ball and clear fences, while also showing the knowledge that he can't pull everything. He is willing to go to left field, and is strong enough to do damage there. As a matter of fact, Ryan has outstanding power to left-center.

  • Klesko has that Kirk Gibson-type gung-ho approach to the game. He just has to learn patience because pitchers won't challenge him in key situations. He is aggressive and confident at the plate -- similar in his approach to the way Will Clark was, but Klesko is not as disciplined.

    Klesko has a violent swing that makes chiropractors wince. That is a big reason why he continuously has back problems.

  • Ryan doesn't waste any time swinging the bat. Until 1992, Ryan, a lefthanded hitter, often swung so hard he fell into the righthanded batter's box. But for over a decade, he has displayed a more controlled and disciplined swing. But he still sometimes takes a hack that resembles a lumberjack trying to fell a tree in one blow.

  • Klesko believes that he can do just as much damage off lefthanded pitchers. "I know I can hit lefthanders," he says. "I hit them all through the minor leagues."

    He has learned to hit southpaws because Padre manager Bruce Bochy allowed him to hit against them. Interestingly, in both 2000 and 2001, he hit .256 off lefties. In 2002, he improved to .287. But in 2003 he dropped way off against southpaws, managing only a .194 average with 4 homers in 103 at-bats.

  • Klesko's swing has him flipping the bat in front of home plate after he makes contact, extending his arms skyward like an orchestra conductor. It was born as a safety precaution while Ryan was in the minors. It keeps him from throwing the bat at the catcher out of excitement.

  • Offspeed and breaking balls get him out when he is behind in the count.

  • In September 1999, Klesko hit a 449-foot home run into the Braves bullpen at Turner Field. It was the longest ball hit in the park's history, at that time. The previous record-holder was Sammy Sosa, who hit a 444-footer earlier in 1999.

  • In 2000, Ryan's .393 on-base percentage was the highest on the Padres and illustrates how disciplined at the plate he is. In 2001, his on-base percentage was .384. And it was .388 in 2002. But in 2003, it dropped to .354. However, it was back up to .399 in 2004.

  • Klesko has become good at laying off borderline pitches.


  • In 2004, this lefty batter hit .325 with one home run in 114 at-bats vs. lefthanded pitchers, and .278 with 8 homers in 288 at-bats against righthanders.

    In 2005, Klesko hit .just .200 with no home runs in 100 at-bats against lefthanded pitchers, but had a .273 average with all 18 of his home runs in 339 at-bats vs. righthanders. (A stubborn neck injury hindered Ryan through the 2005 season).

    In 2007, Ryan hit .262 with 2 home runs in 65 at-bats vs. lefties, and .259 with 4 home runs in 297 at-bats against righthanded pitchers.

  • Klesko entered the 2008 season with a career batting average of .279 and 278 home runs and 987 RBI.

  • Ryan does pretty good work around first base. He is better at first base than in the outfield.
  • In left field, he plays with great intensity. His biggest problem is the accuracy on his throws. But he can throw the ball from left field to home plate.

  • He just doesn't have the instincts to be more than just an avg. outfielder.

  • Early in his outfielding days with the Braves, while having trouble catching balls hit in his direction, TBS announcer Skip Caray remarked: "Ryan's open, but we can't get him the ball."

    But he has become adequate out there.

  • In 2000, Padres coach Rob Picciolo worked long and hard to improve Ryan's footwork at first base. "It's all rhythm," Picciolo said. "It's like a shortstop. You want him taking that step into the play, fielding the ball in one motion."

  • Klesko is not that great at scooping up low throws in the dirt from fellow-infielders. But his range is very good, especially on glove-side grounders. And he is an accurate thrower. But his overall play on defense is below-average.


  • Klesko says he'd rather play first base than right field because it allows him to play at 245-250 pounds. He says he'd have to drop about 20 pounds and cut back on his weight training to have the quickness to play the outfield in 2002. But right field is where the Padres moved him.

  • After playing first base in 2003, the Padres chose to move Klesko to the outfield in 2004, putting Phil Nevin at first base.

  • Ryan is better at running down balls near the foul line than he is chasing a ball in the gap. He is still learning what angles to take. His throwing has been average.

  • Ryan runs fairly well for a big guy. He can steal a few bases, as he proved in 2000 with the Padres. An offseason workout program improved Klesko's speed. And he worked with Padres coach Alan Trammell on reading pitchers and situations.
  • In 2000, he stole 23 bases in 30 tries. He had never before stolen in double figures in his Major League career. In 2001, he stole 23 more.

  • May 3, 1995: Klesko went on the D.L. with a grade one sprain and torn ligament to his left thumb. He returned to action May 18.
  • 1997 Season: He missed various games during the season with a variety of minor injuries, including a sore back. And he sprained his wrist in mid-September.

  • June 30, 1998: Ryan had his appendix removed arthroscopically, but didn't go on the D.L.

  • September 4, 2003: Klesko had surgery on his right shoulder. An MRI indicated a clean and undamaged rotator cuff but showed bone spurs and damage to the A/C joint. Klesko had a surgery known as the Mumford procedure in which an arthroscope is fitted with a cutting tool and doctors can immediately see and then treat the affected area. Hoffman had the same procedure in February where the tip of the collarbone is shaved.

    Padres assistant trainer Jim Daniel described the end of the bone at the A/C joint, the clavicle, as being jagged and not smooth as is normal; there was also some calcification of the bone. Klesko's specific arthritis is osteoarthritis, which is a condition caused by prolonged physical activity.

    "It was good they went in there when they did," Daniel said. "The MRI showed some damage but the scope gave them a much clearer picture. This was not going to get better on its own."

  • May 27-June 16, 2004: Klesko was on the D.L. with a strained oblique.

  • 2005: Ryan suffered with a stubborn neck ailment the 2nd half of the 2005 season, but played through it. He had a cortisone shot in August.

  • 2006: Klesko decided late in spring training to play through pain. But that didn't work out. After spending the first week of the season on the D.L., Klesko underwent surgery on April 10, 2006. Doctors shaved the bone in his AC joint to give him better range of motion.

    "It's bone on bone. The AC joint's 65 to 70 percent damaged. It crunches and pops every time I move it," Klesko said before surgery.

    He spent a couple of months on the D.L., recovering, finally returing on September 20.

Last Updated 5/9/2019 5:41:00 PM. All contents © 2000 by Player Profiles. All rights reserved.