The Tigers organization is in mourning today, as they announced the tragic passing of first base coach Kimera Bartee at just 49 years of age.
“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,” Tigers general manager Al Avila said in a statement released this morning. “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.”
“Like many across baseball, I was devastated by the news of Kimera’s passing,” manager A.J. Hinch said in his own statement. “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. 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 fiancé, father, and son.”
A 14th-round pick of the Orioles back in 1993, Bartee wound up making his Major League debut with the Tigers three years later on the heels of a trade and a selection in the Rule 5 Draft. A center fielder, he spent parts of the next four seasons in Detroit and also made brief big league stops in Cincinnati and Colorado before retiring as a player.
Following his retirement, Bartee worked as a coach and instructor within the Pirates, Phillies and Tigers organizations. He managed in the lower levels of the Pirates’ system and served as a minor league baserunning and outfield coordinator before eventually joining the Major League staff as first base/outfield coach from 2017-19. Bartee worked as an outfield instructor within the Phillies organization in 2020 and joined the Tigers as first base coach in the 2020-21 offseason. He was set to return to Hinch’s coaching staff for a second season in 2022.
We at MLBTR offer heartfelt condolences to Bartee’s loved ones, teammates and the entire Tigers organization.