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Let’s Remember Jerry Kindall, Former Major Leaguer and Legendary College Coach.
“Some people ‘talk the talk,’ Jerry Kindall ‘walked the walk.’ He lived his life just like you’re supposed to…In a nutshell, he taught us not only to respect the game of baseball, but to respect the people in the game. That was the most valuable lesson any of us learned. He taught us how to act and treat people.” –Terry Francona, paying tribute to his former coach, Jerry Kindall
Longtime Cub fans like me remember Jerry Kindall as a weak hitting second baseman with occasional power who debuted with the Cubs in 1956 and played in the majors for nine seasons. Kindall passed away on Christmas Eve at age 82, following a stroke.
Over his career (1956-1965), Jerry played for the Cubs (1956-1958, 1960-1961), Indians (1962-1964), and Twins (1964-1965). He hit for a lowly .213 career average, with 44 home runs, and 198 RBIs. Kindall holds the dubious distinction of having the lowest career batting average of any player since 1920 with at least 2000 at-bats.
Although his career stats are nothing to write home about, Jerry later found his niche in the college coaching ranks, becoming the legendary coach of the Arizona Wildcats (1973-1996). During his tenure as head coach, AU won three National Championships (1976, 1980, 1986); and he finished with the school’s winningest record (860-579-7).
Jerry Kindall’s modest career as a player pales in comparison to the impact he had on the lives of the scores of young men he coached at Arizona, many of whom became major leaguers. He was paid this tribute from current AU coach, Jay Johnson:
“Jerry Kindall is one of the greatest college baseball coaches of all time, but he was much more than that. I don’t think there is anyone that was held in higher regard than Coach Kindall. He was almost larger than life. When you talk about being an elite coach, and more importantly, an elite person, he was and will continue to be the standard.”
That’s a tribute hard to top. So let’s take a moment to reflect on the life of Jerry Kindall who proved that even a weak hitting second baseman can leave a major impact on the game when he has life’s priorities in order. He served as a positive role model for the many young ball players whose lives he touched, lives made better because of his influence. In so doing, he became one of the greatest college baseball coaches of all time.
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Information: Excerpts edited Jerry Kindall obituary in the Chicago Sun-Times, December 27, 2017; and from the Jerry Kindall Wikipedia page.
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