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Detroit Tigers first-base coach Kimera Bartee dies at 49

Detroit Tigers first-base coach Kimera Bartee dies at 49
Former Pittsburgh Pirates coach Kimera Bartee (C), shown June 6, 2017, spent 12 seasons within the Pirates' organization as a coach. Photo courtesy of Keith Allison/Wikimedia Commons

Dec. 21 (UPI) -- Detroit Tigers first-base coach Kimera Bartee, who played six seasons in MLB, has died at the age of 49, the team announced Tuesday.

The Tigers didn't disclose the cause of death, noting only that Bartee died "suddenly." The Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press reported that Bartee was visiting his father Monday in Omaha, Neb., when he collapsed.

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"All of us in the Tigers baseball family were shocked and saddened," Tigers general manager Al Avila said in a statement. "Throughout his time in our organization as both a player and a coach, Kimera was known as a kind soul but intense competitor who did his best every day to elevate those around him to do great things.

"While Tigers fans got used to seeing him in the first base coach's box, Kimera's impact on our ballclub went far deeper and will be sorely missed."

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Bartee coached four Major League seasons between the Pittsburgh Pirates (2017-19) and Philadelphia Phillies (2020) before joining manager A.J. Hinch's staff in Detroit last season.

"Like many across baseball, I was devastated by the news of Kimera's passing," Hinch said in a news release. "From the start of spring training last year, it was clear that 'KB' was the epitome of a player's coach, having an uncanny ability to build deep connections with anyone from a rookie to a 10-year veteran.

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"I was proud of his selflessness and adaptability when he quickly shifted to the Major League staff last season, and how excited he was about the bright future he had in both baseball and life. The sport has lost an amazing man, but more importantly his family has lost a loving fiancé, father, and son."

In total, Bartee spent 12 seasons within the Pirates' organization as a coach. Prior to his time at the MLB level, he spent nine years serving as Pittsburgh's Minor League outfield and base running coordinator.

The Pirates said in a statement that the organization was "deeply saddened" over the loss of Bartee's "upbeat attitude and infectious smile."

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Before his coaching career, Bartee played center field for the Tigers, Cincinnati Reds and Colorado Rockies from 1996-2001. He had a .216 batting average with four home runs and 33 RBIs across 243 games. He also compiled 20 stolen bases during his rookie campaign in Detroit.

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