Sad news broke early this week when it was revealed that former Boston Red Sox third base coach Wendell Kim died on Sunday. He was 64 years old at the time and was battling Alzheimer’s disease.
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When he retired from coaching ten years ago, it was because he started experiencing short-term memory loss which of course is an early symptom of Alzheimer’s. It ended his tenure as the Chicago Cubs third base coach from 2003 to 2004. Originally he was slated to coach the Cubs again in 2005, but his memory problems made it clear he was better off in the hands of his wife Natasha.
From 1997 to 2000 Kim, who is part Hawaiian and part Korean, was the third base coach for the Boston Red Sox after leaving his job as the Giants third base coach, a position which he had held since 1989.
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Popular with fans, much like Brian Butterfield is today, Kim was different in the fact that he was a supporter of aggressive base running. Often sending runners home when other coaches would not have dared, he earned the nicknames “Windmill Wendell” and “Wave ’em in Wendell.” for the motion he would make when runners home.
After leaving the Boston Red Sox, he took a job as the Indianapolis Indians (Milwaukee Brewers AAA afiliate at the time) manager in 2001 and had his biggest job in 2002— as the Montreal Expos bench coach under manager and big league Hall of Famer Frank Robinson.
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As a player, Kim spent seven of his eight years in the San Francisco Giants organization, but never made it to the big leagues. His best season came in 1978 while playing for the AAA Phoenix Giants. It was there that he hit .313 with a .364 OBP in 76 games for the Giants. Why they never called him up still remains a mystery. Defensively, he was versatile. A second baseman by trade, he also logged time at third base, shortstop and in the outfield.
Rest In Peace, Windmill Wendell.