Wendell Kim, who served as a third base coach for the San Francisco Giants, Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs, died on Sunday of Alzheimer’s. He was 64.
Usually you don’t notice third base coaches. But Kim was hard to miss. He was the first Korean to ever put on a big league uniform, usually the shortest guy on the field and the most demonstrative. Kim sent baserunners home with reckless abandon. It was not unusual for the runners he sent to get thrown out at home plate and I saw more than my share at Fenway Park the first year I began attending games in 2000. This earned him the simultaneously affectionate and derisive nickname “Wave ‘Em Home Wendell”.
But Kim paid his dues. He spent nearly two decades in the Giants’ minor league system as a player, coach and manager before getting the call in 1989. That year, the Giants would win the NL pennant. He would never get back to the Fall Classic, but he spent 15 seasons on big league fields. I’m sure there are a lot of folks out there who would gladly trade places with him.
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