Six years ago, David Klein started his own informal summer baseball league at Menlo-Atherton High School, his alma mater.
"It was more of a glorified scrimmage," Klein said. "We could never get 18 people out there. We'd get 14 to 15 guys, have one to two outfielders and have the same pitcher throw the whole time. Often times we'd take breaks between innings, and sometimes there would be beer involved. It was pretty darn laid back, but it definitely got my juices flowing in terms of starting an official team."
A year later, the Menlo Park Legends were born. As the coach and general manager, the 26-year-old Klein wears several different hats: coach, recruiter, administrative executive and chief fundraiser. Although Menlo Park is a semi-pro baseball team, it's somewhat of a misnomer in that virtually the entire roster is filled with college players.
The Legends have quickly established themselves as one of the rising programs in the wood bat Far West League. Three years ago, Menlo Park fell just short of reaching the National Baseball Congress World Series, and it would love nothing more than to make another deep postseason run this year.
Some of the top players on this year's squad include first baseman-outfielder Geo Saba of Stanford, outfielder Zach Hoffpauir of Stanford, shortstop Kyle Zirbes of Canada College in Redwood City, first baseman Danny Miller of Chico State and pitchers Andrew Herrera of San Jose State and Eric Davila of Menlo College.
Herrera had a tremendous two-year stint at the College of San Mateo, which earned him a scholarship to play at San Jose State. Davila is currently injured but is expected to return in a couple of weeks. When healthy, Davila has the ability to dominate any lineup.
Klein said 15 former Legends players have been drafted, a testament to the program's ability to attract top-flight talent every season. Klein has displayed plenty of perseverance in getting the Legends up and running. In the middle of his senior year at UC Santa Barbara, Klein was cut from the baseball team.
"I was heartbroken," Klein said, "because my dream was to be a Major League Baseball player."
Klein took that heartbreak and turned it into a new passion — player development.
"I enjoy coaching college players because they're in the prime of their youth and they still have a lot of growing up to do," he said. "I like the whole developmental aspect of coaching, and that's why I find this job as a sweet spot."