TUCSON, Ariz. – Jerry Kindall, who won the College World Series as a Gophers player and as Arizona’s coach, died Sunday night. He was 82.
The University of Arizona said Kindall died of complications from a stroke suffered Thursday.
Kindall, the first to achieve the player-coach CWS double, coached Arizona to national titles in 1976, 1980 and 1986 after starring at shortstop on the Gophers’ 1956 championship team. He spent nine seasons in the major leagues with the Twins, Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians.
“Saddened and stunned to hear of the passing of Jerry Kindall,” former Twins teammate Jim Kaat tweeted. “A friend. A wonderful teammate. A gentle and kind man of deep Christian faith. And a coach that impacted many lives. A life well lived.”
That sort of testimony flowed after the news of his death.
“Some people talk the talk, he walked the walk,” said Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona, a member of the 1980 championship team. “He lived his life just like you’re supposed to. It’s easy to say things, but he lived it.
“In a nutshell, he taught us not only to respect the game of baseball but respect the people in the game. That was the most valuable lesson any of us learned. He taught us how to act and treat people.”
Kindall coached the Wildcats from 1973 to 1996, finishing as the school’s career victory leader with an 860-579-7 record.
“This is a sad day for Arizona baseball,” current Wildcats coach Jay Johnson said. “Jerry Kindall is one of the greatest college baseball coaches of all time, but he was much more than that. I don’t think there is anyone that was held in higher regard for the person that they were as Coach Kindall was.”
Born in St. Paul and a graduate of St. Paul Washington High School, Kindall was elected to the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1991, the University of Minnesota Athletics Hall of Fame in 1995 and the Arizona Sports Hall of Fame in 1996.
Kindall hit 18 home runs during the championship 1956 season and was an All-Big Ten and All-America selection.
Kindall also played two seasons for the Gophers basketball team, averaging 4.3 points and 2.4 rebounds in 33 games.
He was a Gophers baseball and basketball assistant coach from 1967 to 1972.