Detroit Tigers first base coach Kimera Bartee has died at age 49. Cause of death was unknown at the time of this writing.
The news of Bartee’s passing was shared on Twitter by the Detroit Tigers. His passing seemed to be a shock to those within the baseball ranks as the Tigers reportedly did not know of any illnesses that Bartee was battling at the time of his death.
Bartee, a native of Omaha, Neb., who also played college baseball at Omaha-based Creighton Unviersity, had returned home to visit his father and reportedly collapsed during that visit.
Remembering Detroit Tigers first base coach Kimera Bartee
Bartee appeared in 243 Major League games between 1996 and 2001, seeing action with the Tigers, Colorado Rockies, and Cincinnati Reds. The majority of Bartee’s playing time came in a Tigers uniform as he played in 220 games during four seasons.
A 14th-round draft pick of the Baltimore Orioles during the 1993 MLB draft, Bartee was sent to the Minnesota Twins on September 19, 1995, as part of the Scott Erickson trade. He was drafted again by the Orioles in that offseason’s Rule 5 draft, but was placed on waivers thereafter. That’s where the Tigers picked him up prior to the 1996 season.
It was in that season where Bartee would make his MLB debut, on April 3 during a season-opening series against the Twins. He would log 247 plate appearances that season (the most of any season in his career), slashing .253/.308/.304 with one home run and 14 RBI. He would also steal 20 bases, leading the team in that category.
After his playing career was over, Bartee coached for the Orioles (2004-07), Pittsburgh Pirates (2008-19), and Philadelphia Phillies (2020) before accepting the job as Detroit’s first base coach for the 2021 campaign. He was set to perform those duties again in 2022.