Detroit Tigers first base coach and former major-league outfielder Kimera Bartee died suddenly Monday at the age of 49. Tigers general manager Al Avila announced Bartee’s passing with a statement released on Tuesday:
“All of us in the Tigers baseball family were shocked and saddened to learn that first base coach Kimera Bartee suddenly passed away on Monday at the age of 49. 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. 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. The thoughts and prayers of everyone in the organization are with Kimera’s family and friends, and his memory and spirit will never be forgotten.”
Bartee’s cause of death is not known at this time. According to the Detroit Free Press, Bartee was visiting his father in Omaha, Nebraska when he collapsed.
Bartee spent parts of six seasons in the majors, and four of those came with the Tigers. Originally a 14th-round draft pick by the Orioles out of Creighton University, Bartee, a switch-hitting center fielder, made his MLB debut with Detroit. In his rookie season of 1996, the Omaha native stole 20 bases in 110 games for Detroit. Bartee coached for the Pirates from 2017-19, the Phillies for 2020, and the Tigers last season.
Pirates chairman Bob Nutting also released a statement:
“We are deeply saddened to hear the news of the sudden passing of Kimera Bartee. He was a great person, whose upbeat attitude and infectious smile would always lift the spirits of anyone who interacted with him. Our hearts go out to his family, whom he loved so much. He was much too young and will be dearly missed.”
Prior to joining the Pirates’ major-league staff, Bartee spent nine years as the organization’s minor-league outfield and base-running coordinator. Bartee also managed a Pirates’ minor-league affiliate in 2011.