Kimera Bartee, Detroit Tigers first base coach, dead at 49

No cause of death has yet been announced, says the team

Kimera Bartee, a former Major League Baseball outfielder and Detroit Tigers first base coach, died Monday. He was 49.

The Tigers made the announcement Tuesday, saying Bartee died suddenly. They did not disclose the cause of death.

“Throughout his time in our organization as both a player and 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,” Tigers general manager Al Avila said.

“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. In speaking with Kimera’s father, Jerry Bartee, we offered our condolences and support to his family.”

Former Pittsburgh Pirates first base coach Kimera Bartee is shown during the team’s photo day Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018, in Bradenton, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara, File)

Bartee was an outfielder in Detroit from 1996 to 1999 and played the next two seasons with the Cincinnati Reds and Colorado Rockies. He was from Omaha, Nebraska, and played for his hometown Creighton University Bluejays.

The Tigers promoted him to first-base coach during the 2021 season after he was the organization’s roving outfield and baserunning instructor, a role he had in 2020 with the Philadelphia Phillies. He was previously first-base coach for the Pittsburgh Pirates and also was an outfield and baserunning coordinator for their minor league teams.

“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,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said.

“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 fiance, father, and son.”

Have you subscribed to theGrio’s podcast “Dear Culture”? Download our newest episodes now!

TheGrio is now on Apple TV, Amazon Fire, and Roku. Download theGrio today!