Arizona Wildcats baseball coaching legend Jerry Kindall has died at age 82 due to complications from a stroke, the UA announced Sunday.
Kindall, who coached at Arizona from 1973-1996, holds the UA’s all-time wins record with an 860-579-7 coaching mark in Tucson.
A three-time national coach of the year, Kindall guided Arizona to three national championships (1976, 1980, 1986), three Pac-10 titles, and one WAC pennant.
Kindall was the first person ever to win a national championship as both a player and coach, as he was a member of Minnesota’s 1956 College World Series team that beat Arizona for the national championship.
Kindall was drafted by the Chicago Cubs and he spent eight seasons in the Major Leagues with the Cubs, Cleveland Indians and Minnesota Twins.
The Minnesota native was inducted into the College Baseball Hall of Fame in 2007 and coached three College World Series MVPs, four Pac-10 South Players of the Year and one Golden Spikes Award winner (Terry Francona, 1980).
Arizona renamed its baseball facility Jerry Kindall Field at Frank Sancet Stadium in January 2004 where the Wildcats played until 2011 before moving to Hi Corbett Field.
Quotes on Jerry Kindall
Dave Heeke, Arizona Athletics Director: “I was saddened to learn of Jerry Kindall’s passing earlier today. Coach Kindall is not only an Arizona Athletics icon, but an icon in the world of baseball, and specifically, college baseball. From leading our baseball program to three National Championships to the effect he had on our community and the lives of so many, including over two decades worth of student-athletes, Jerry’s impact will be remembered and cherished for generations to come. On behalf of the athletics department and Wildcats everywhere, we want to share our deepest condolences with Jerry’s family and friends.”
Jay Johnson, Arizona head baseball coach: "This is a sad day for Arizona Baseball. Jerry Kindall is one of the greatest college baseball coaches of all time, but he was much more than that. I don't think there is anyone that was held in higher regard for the person that they were as Coach Kindall was. 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. I am honored to be a part of the program that Coach made so great for so long. We will continue to honor his legacy by how we represent Arizona baseball."
Andy Lopez, former Arizona head baseball coach (2002-15): “I don’t think you’ll find a better man than Jerry Kindall. I know I have never known a better man, and what an unbelievable coach on top of that. I don’t think there are words to describe what Jerry Kindall meant to young coaches and to his fellow man. I don’t know anybody that says anything bad about Jerry Kindall. What he did at Arizona is remarkable. He came into a program in pretty good shape, but he was able to do something that’s very difficult and win a National Championship. Not only one, but three. He forever put this program on the map in terms of college baseball. What he did in 1976, 1980 and 1986; this program was put on the map at that point in time by Jerry Kindall. I’ve said it forever; I was just the gatekeeper at Arizona. It was well established before I showed up. It was a very proud time of my life to be the head coach at Arizona, and it really stems from Frank Sancet and Jerry Kindall.”
Jerry Stitt, former Arizona head baseball coach (1997-2001): “The first thing is it’s such an honor to come find me and ask me to be part of the program. He had already won a National Championship and building a program for the ages, I was just honored. It was a great honor to go to practice with him every day and learn from him and be on the field. There is no way you can estimate the impact he had on student-athletes. The passion he shared with all of the players and all of us working with him carried on for a lifetime. It was a great honor for me to suit up with Coach Kindall. He's such a great role model for everybody. He was a man of solid integrity. He was the same whether we won or lost. It was always about learning from the moment and teaching and getting better every day. That’s what stuck with me for so long, and has stuck with every guy he touched. I will miss knowing I can see him anytime very dearly.”
Terry Francona, Arizona great (1978-80), Cleveland Indians Manager and a member of the ’80 National Championship team: “Some people talk the talk, he walked the walk. He lived his life just like you’re supposed to. It’s easy to say things, but he lived it. In a nutshell, he taught us not only to respect the game of baseball, but respect the people in the game. That was the most valuable lesson any of us learned. He taught us how to act and treat people. When you’re 18, you know the guy knows what he’s talking about. We knew he was a great coach. He kept us busy. We kept getting better every day. And, what was so special was after you got done playing for him, he keeps up with everybody. I can’t tell you how many messages he’s left me during the season, no matter if it’s going well or not. He lived life the way it was supposed to be lived.”
Chip Hale, Arizona great (1984-87), Washington Nationals Bench Coach and a member of the ’86 National Championship team: “Number one, it was an honor to come to a university like Arizona and play for a program that’s so storied. Coach Kindall gave me that opportunity. Little did I know, I was going to play for one of the top baseball instructors in all of college baseball, but more importantly, the number one man I know; an example of a husband, father and a professional. You think you know what you’re playing for, but it was more than I ever signed up for. This is a man, that at every point of his life, was an example for me going forward. When I left Arizona, I felt like I was as ready to get out in the world, whether it was baseball or something else, just from his examples. Any time things weren’t going well in the professional baseball world, whether I was playing, coaching or managing, I always got a call from him. It was just a little word of encouragement. He always had a nice, encouraging word for me. He always asked about my family. Whenever I needed that nudge, he was there to give it more. When things broke yesterday, I texted a bunch of the guys I knew from the UA. I said the number one thing was we were blessed to play for a great man and a wonderful coach.”
Ron Hassey, Arizona great (1974-76), long-time Major Leaguer and a member of the ’76 National Championship team: “I’ve known coach Kindall since 1972 when he recruited me. We stayed friends all the way up until today. Unfortunately, this is a sad day, especially for the baseball world, and especially at the University of Arizona. I think Jerry Kindall is one of the main reasons why Arizona baseball is where it’s at. He wasn’t just a coach; he taught us about life also. I think that’s very important about Jerry Kindall. He meant a lot to me since I was in his first recruiting class. I remember my dad telling me after we talked to him, this is the man to play for. That turned out to be the right move. Not just baseball, he taught you everything about life, on top of baseball. He was a very positive guy. He taught us how to be professionals. He taught us how to be a professional baseball player. It was an honor to have played for him.”