Ex-Twins coach, lifelong Chicagoan Rick Stelmaszek dies at 69

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Bullpen Coach Rick Stelmaszek of the Minnesota Twins poses in 2010. | Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

MINNEAPOLIS — Former Minnesota Twins coach Rick Stelmaszek, who helped the team win two World Series championships, has died of complications from pancreatic cancer.

The lifelong Chicago resident and native, who attended Mendel Catholic high school on the South Side, was 69.

The Twins were informed of the death Monday by a friend of the Stelmaszek family, according to team spokesman Dustin Morse.

The Twins called Stelmaszek a professional who “instilled a winning culture into generations of Twins players.”

Stelmaszek spent 32 seasons as a Twins coach from 1981-2012. He was the longest tenured coach in Twins history and third-longest with a single team in major league history.

He was drafted out of Mendel as a catcher in 1967 by the Washington Senators in the 11th round. He played in 60 games in the majors for four teams, including one season for his hometown Cubs. He hit lone home run for the Cubs in 1974at Wrigley Field, off the Dodgers’ Don Sutton.

“Baseball’s my life; I feel I’m a lifer in baseball. That’s all I did,” he told the St. Paul Pioneer Press in April. “I was very fortunate in my career to do something that I like. I didn’t feel like I had a job. It’s something I enjoyed doing, and I had a good life doing it. I made a lot of friends. … I’m looking at it from the perspective of an old goat, and I can say I’m very happy and proud.”

Stelmaszek was bullpen coach under Billy Gardner, Ray Miller, Tom Kelly and Ron Gardenhire, and helped the Twins reach the postseason eight times.

The team recently announced that Stelmaszek would receive the Herb Carneal Lifetime Achievement Award, to be presented in January.

He is survived by his wife, Kathy, and a son, Michael.


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