Former third-base coach Kim passes away

Former third-base coach Kim passes away

Wendell Kim, who spent more than 30 years in professional baseball as a coach and player, died on Sunday in Phoenix at the age of 64 after a long battle with early-onset Alzheimer's disease.

Kim worked in the Major Leagues with the Giants (1989-96), Red Sox ('97-2000), Expos ('02) and Cubs ('03-'04), becoming the first Korean-American to wear a big league uniform. Along the way, he was known for his enthusiasm and was bestowed with the nickname "Wave 'em in Wendell" for his aggressive approach to sending runners home as a third-base coach.

Kim, a Hawaii native, played at Cal Poly Pomona, where he set school records for runs scored, walks and games played. The two-time All-California Collegiate Athletic Association selection then began his pro career with the Giants in 1973 after signing as an undrafted free agent.

Listed at 5-foot-5, 160 pounds, he played second base, third base, shortstop and outfield over eight pro seasons in the San Francisco organization, rising as high as Triple-A. In more than 600 Minor League games, Kim hit .285/.363/.343 with 10 home runs.

He quickly transitioned to a career in the dugout, taking over as manager of the Giants' Midwest League affiliate in 1981. Kim managed in the team's system through '88 before getting a shot on the big league staff as first-base coach.

Following three seasons in that role, he shifted to third-base coach for five more. Kim then moved on to Boston, where he also coached third and served as infield instructor for manager Jimy Williams. The Red Sox reached the postseason twice during his tenure, in 1998 and '99, and Kim also was honored as the BoSox Club's Man of the Year in '97, for his community relations efforts.

After leaving the Red Sox, Kim spent one year managing the Brewers' Triple-A team in Indianapolis before returning to the Majors with the Expos, as bench coach for manager Frank Robinson. He then put in two seasons coaching third for the Cubs, nearly making it to the World Series with the team in 2003. His final coaching job came with the Nationals' Gulf Coast League affiliate in '05.

Kim is survived by his wife, Natasha, and their son, Donald. Services will be held on March 1, with further details still to be determined, according to the Red Sox.

Andrew Simon is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.