Legendary Arizona baseball coach and former MLB player Jerry Kindall passed away on Sunday night at the age of 82.
Jerry Kindall Won College World Series Titles as Both Player and Coach
Kindall suffered complications from a stroke, which led to his death on Sunday. He leaves behind a legacy and was the very first individual to claim a College World Series title both as an athlete and again as a coach.
Current University of Arizona Wildcats coach Jay Johnson said that Kindall’s passing marks a sad day for the school. The community mourned the loss of one of the best coaches, not just in the state, but in the country. Johnson said everybody respected the coach, even rivals.
“He was almost a larger-than-life person, and when you talk about being an elite coach, and more importantly, an elite person, he was and will continue to be the standard,” Johnson said.
A Champion On and Off the Field
Kindall led Arizona to national titles three times between 1976 and 1986. He coached the Wildcats from 1973 until 1996. He left U of A with the highest number of wins and a 860-579-7 record.
An article from Tucson.com provides a glimpse into the Kindall’s compassion off the field as well.
Former Arizona assistant coach Court Hall recounted one such display involving a man named Tommy. Tommy was a former employee of the Chicago Cubs, the club Kindall had played for. When Tommy moved into an assisted living facility in Tucson, coach Kindall borrowed a book about baseball from Hall. Hall recalled, “Jerry would read the book to Tommy every week. By the time Jerry returned a week later, Tommy couldn’t remember any of it. So Jerry would just read it to him all over again.”
There are dozens of stories recalling Kindall’s kindness. In another example, a member of Kindall’s church was imprisoned about 100 miles away from where Kindall lived. The distance didn’t deter Kindall, who traveled 2-3 times per month to visit his friend.
Former UA head coach Andy Lopez said that there was even more to Kindall than his acumen for coaching. “I don’t know anybody that says anything bad about Jerry Kindall,” Lopez said.