CINCINNATI — When Kory Klingenbeck wakes up each weekday morning at 6:30, he can’t wait to talk baseball with his brother, Kyle.
The Elder High School baseball teammates have a morning routine in preparing for the drive from their Delhi Township home to Price Hill.
Kory, 16, a junior catcher, usually eats cereal. Kyle, 18, a senior pitcher, prefers oatmeal or breakfast sandwiches. That's a small portion of a very large Sam's Club grocery bill every two weeks.
As Kyle drives his brother over to school, the conversation generally involves baseball.
They discuss the upcoming game that night or even specific strategies, whether at the plate or defensively.
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The brothers will give each other a difficult time on occasion at home as siblings tend to do. Kyle, a nose guard on Elder’s football team, likes to say to he can pin Kory in a playful wrestling match — or that he can grow facial hair better than Kory.
“They’re brothers,” their father, Kevin Klingenbeck said. “They go home and they dig each other. They poke each other.”
It’s baseball that is their common language.
“It’s incredible,” Kory said. “Not everybody gets this opportunity. I would say we take full advantage of this opportunity every single day we are out here.”
The Klingenbeck brothers are a significant reason why Elder (6-2) has won six of its first eight games.
“It’s really fun,” Elder coach Mark Thompson said. “They’re great kids. It’s really funny. Kyle is a typical big brother, you know, so he thinks he owns little brother. Little brother is just behind the scenes, being a goofball and trying to get under his skin, but Kory’s biggest supporter is big brother Kyle, so they really feed off each other. It’s a great dynamic with a pitcher-catcher type of thing. They are both fantastic players.”
Kevin Klingenbeck and his wife, Leslie, couldn’t be more proud of their sons.
Kevin, a 1987 Elder graduate, was an infielder who later played at Wright State. His younger brother, Scott Klingenbeck, played at Elder, Oak Hills and Ohio State before a four-year pitching career in the majors.
Kevin said he knows the nerves his family went through when he and Scott played high school baseball. Kevin doesn’t like to sit in one place during Elder games while watching Kyle and Kory.
“It is extremely special, and we are really fortunate, but it’s nerve-wracking with one pitching and one catching,” Kevin said. “It doesn’t seem like there is a relaxing moment. But (I'm) enjoying every minute of it. It’s fantastic. It’s really neat.”
Leslie enjoys watching her sons play catch in the backyard. Their baseball journey has been a lifelong one that binds the family together.
“I might start crying,” she said. “Just knowing that they’ve been playing since they were little and to get to this point — it’s just amazing. I love that they love it. That they love what they are doing. They get to play together. They’re just good brothers.”
Kyle, a Northern Kentucky University signee, is 1-1 with 11 strikeouts on the mound this season. Unfortunately, he had to leave Monday’s game against visiting Moeller in the third inning due to an injury.
Before the game, however, the brothers reflected on their journey together within the program.
The pair started as a battery (pitcher and catcher combination) in 2017 when Kyle was a sophomore and Kory a freshman in a game in Johnson City, Tennessee.
Kyle was nervous when he took the mound, knowing his brother was behind the plate, but he threw a fastball right down the middle to open the game.
“When he threw that first pitch to me, my nerves ran from the back of my spine all the way down to my feet,” Kory said. “It just all got away from me right there, and I just had the best of my life that game right here.”
Kory said he will cherish all his memories with the Elder baseball program, especially when Kyle goes to NKU next year.
“It is so neat,” Kevin said. “They enjoy it. They love coming to the ball field. They love playing.”