Wendell Kim, third-base coach for the Giants from 1989 through 1996, died on Sunday after a lengthy battle with early-onset Alzheimer's Disease.
Dave Brown at CBS has a nice writeup on Kim that explores his post-Giants career with the Red Sox and Cubs, including a link to a lengthy, devastating piece documenting Kim's career, life, and sad deterioration at an early age.
Kim was a third-base coach known for being aggressive, which is great way to build a reputation with fans. Like umpires, there's no way for third-base coaches to win with the fans, just ways to lose less. Kim did coach a pennant winner and 103-game winner, though, so the odds are pretty good that his reputation as Wavin' Wendell was blown a little out of proportion, which usually happens with third-base coaches. He was fun to watch out there. That I remember. All third-base coaches should be diminutive and energetic. It should be a cliché, if not a standard.
His post-firing comments from 1996 are kind of a gut punch:
"I'm just kind of stunned," Kim said. "I've got to think about it. I've never been in this situation before, and I've got to check around to see what my options are. The Giants have always been good to me in the 24 years I've worked for them. This has hit me pretty hard."
If the Internet were around in 1977 ... well, it would probably be a bunch of listicles about Star Wars. But I'd like to think this little corner of the Internet would have been obsessed with the 5'4" second baseman with a .412 on-base percentage in Triple-A. We all would have loved to watch the Giants' very own proto-Altuve off the bench. It's possible that he would have gotten a better shot for a bench spot in a post-analytics world, or it's possible that he wasn't going to hit in any era. Still, that's one for the time machine: going back to the Pacific Coast League in 1977 and watching Kim work a 10-pitch walk against Rick Sutcliffe.
Rest in peace, Wendell Kim. Here's to the memory one of the most recognizable third-base coaches in Giants history.
Click here to make a donation in Kim's name to the Northern California chapter of the Alzheimer's Association