While meeting with some former coaches this morning, I was saddened to hear that Wendell Kim passed away. Wendell was a base coach, and one of the nicest men that I had the privilege to meet.
Those that coach in the Bigs are usually bigger than life and very busy people. Their attention span is stretched to the point, many times, where a “hello” is usually very brief and on the run. Not always, mind you, but just enough.
I was sitting with two other coaches on a road trip in a Stuckey’s restaurant, when in walked Wendell Kim. I didn’t recognize the man but one in our party did. The man that recognized him said Wendell was with a AA club – the real deal, not with the Indy’s like us. His remarks rang with an amount of certainness to it. Some coaches and even players with the Affiliates and the Majors, look the other way when talking about us in the Indy’s – not all, just enough.
Right away we all spoke up and said “hello” to the man, upon which he turned and looked to see if he recognized any of us – but didn’t, so a “hello” back was polite, but subtle. He then walked over and shook the hand of the coach at our booth, closest to him. We invited him to have a cup of Joe, along with mentioning that our club was on its way home after a two-day road trip.
Now I was expecting him to say.. “Thanks, but no thanks.” When he asked. “ what club?” we said we were with an Independent League organization. At that point his curiosity was peaked, so he sat and we bantered back and forth all kinds of baseball speak.
Wendell Kim was as down to earth as a man could be. His sensitive nature, as well as his respect for what we did, I will never forget.
Baseball lost a man that was bigger than life, easy going, and a pleasure to be with.
Wendell was only 64 when he passed away recently. I know this man will be missed by all those that met him. As ex-Giants third base coach Tim Flannery said so eloquently.. “ He was a competitor, great baseball man, and now he’s safe at home.” I should be so fortunate so have such kinds words of remembrance mentioned for me.