Legendary local baseball figure Robert Kloss dies at 69

Tony Paul
The Detroit News
Robert Kloss was a former Detroit Tigers draft pick and the varsity baseball coach at Woodhaven High from 1973-2014.

Robert Kloss, a member of the Wayne State Athletics Hall of Fame, the longtime baseball coach at Woodhaven High School and a former Detroit Tigers draft pick, died Monday after a lengthy battle with leukemia. He was 69.

Kloss played four years of baseball at Wayne State, from 1967-70, and played every inning of every game during his career, finishing with 16 complete games and 165 strikeouts, both ranked second in program history when he left. His career ERA was 2.26, and one season it was 1.48.

He also played one season of basketball of Wayne State before graduating with a degree in physical education and a minor in social studies.

In 1970, after a brief stint as a substitute teacher, he joined the Woodhaven Public Schools system as a teacher and eventually became the varsity baseball coach, starting the program in 1973 and remaining coach until his retirement in 2014. Kloss also was a longtime basketball official in Metro Detroit.

"For 47 years, Bob Kloss had a tremendous impact on the students and staff of the Woodhaven-Brownstown School District," Woodhaven-Brownstown superintendent Mark Greathead said in a statement, attributed to Kloss' colleagues at Brownstown Middle School, where he taught. "During that time, he touched the lives of multiple generations of Woodhaven graduates as a teacher, mentor, coach and a friend. He was a very supportive and caring colleague to everyone that he worked with over the years.

"He will be missed by his colleagues, but even more by his students."

Kloss, who lived in Trenton, attended St. Ladislaus High School in Hamtramck, where he was a two-sport star in basketball and baseball. He played in the Catholic League championship game four years in baseball, one highlight being a victory over Birmingham Brother Rice at Tiger Stadium in 1966.

During his senior year in high school, he was the baseball and basketball captain, receiving All-Catholic League recognition in both, as well as All-State honorable mention in basketball. He also was a standout baseball player on the competitive American Legion circuit during high school and college.

Out of high school, his hometown Tigers drafted him in the 11th round of the 1966 June amateur draft, meaning he was selected before such notable names as Ron Cey, and former University of Michigan standouts Ted Sizemore and Geoff Zahn.

But Kloss chose not to sign and to instead attend Wayne State, where he was named team MVP his senior season in 1970. In 2000, he entered the university's athletic Hall of Fame. In 2015, he was elected to the Michigan High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

Kloss is survived by wife, Elizabeth, daughters Erica, Holly and Ashley, five grandchildren and several nieces and nephews. Visitation is scheduled for Thursday and Friday, with an 11 a.m. funeral Saturday at Molnar Funeral Home in Brownstown.