I hate having to report this, but Rick Stelmaszek has died.
If you’re not familiar, Stelmaszek served as the Twins’ bullpen coach from 1981 to 2012—a good 32-year stretch, which is the longest tenure by any major league coach in Twins history. During that time, Stelmaszek coached under managers Billy Gardner, Ray Miller, Tom Kelly, and Ron Gardenhire, and was a part of the 1987 and 1991 World Series teams. He was 69 years old, and had entered a battle with pancreatic cancer earlier this year, which, unfortunately, he did not win.
The Twins honored Stelmaszek on Opening Day in 2017, inviting him to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at Target Field. A whole host of former Twins players and personnel came to support Rick, including Tom Kelly, Ron Gardenhire, Kent Hrbek, Juan Berenguer, Torii Hunter, A.J. Pierzynski, Tony Oliva, LaTroy Hawkins, and so many more.
The Twins organization released the following statement:
“The Minnesota Twins are deeply saddened by the loss of Rick Stelmaszek. A true Twins legend, ‘Stelly’ was widely respected throughout baseball. He was a professional who dedicated his life to Twins baseball and instilled a winning culture into generations of Twins players. The club, like many of his friends throughout the game, is thinking of his wife and son, Kathy and Michael, and the entire Stelmaszek family during this difficult time.”
Many players reacted to the news on Twitter.
What a gem..Stelly was the epitome of a baseball lifer. Lived and breathed it. Pleasure to have crossed paths with him..— Jim Kaat (@KaatJim) November 7, 2017
RIP my good friend Stelly. Learned alot from this man. He will be missed by all. Love ya buddy. Get it up......Heaters for 6— Kent Hrbek (@Hrbie14) November 7, 2017
Rick Stelmaszek, with Rangers in 1973, died today. Long-time coach with Minnesota. If coaches ever go into the HOF, Stelly should be first.— Gerry Fraley (@gfraley) November 6, 2017
Stelly had a gift. He knew how to make you smile. He made your day better. Truly one of a kind. RIP Stelly pic.twitter.com/5OFRk3VgsS— Dustin Morse (@morsecode) November 6, 2017
Oh man that is sad. I loved that man! He was my first bullpen coach. What a great person and fun man to be around. RIP Stelly https://t.co/XqLqaOLWfK— Brian Duensing (@BrianDuensing52) November 7, 2017
My Grandpa taught me to throw lefty. Todd Oakes taught me how to be a man. Stelly taught me how to be a pro. Cancer took all 3. FU Cancer.— Glen Perkins (@glenperkins) November 7, 2017
R.I.P. Rick Stelmaszek.