Tigers' 1st Base Coach Kimera Bartee Dies at Age 49

Erin WalshDecember 21, 2021

DETROIT, MI - AUGUST 01:  First base coach Kimera Bartee #18 of the Detroit Tigers looks on from the dugout during the game against the Baltimore Orioles at Comerica Park on August 1, 2021 in Detroit, Michigan. The Tigers defeated the Orioles 6-2.  (Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Detroit Tigers first base coach Kimera Bartee died Monday at the age of 49, the team announced Tuesday.

Bartee's cause of death is unknown, and the Tigers weren't aware of any illness, according to Evan Petzold of the Detroit Free Press.

Detroit Tigers @tigers

A statement from Tigers EVP/GM Al Avila: <a href="https://t.co/4sy6TjnOZs">pic.twitter.com/4sy6TjnOZs</a>

According to Petzold, Bartee collapsed while visiting his father in Omaha, Nebraska. 

Bartee spent four seasons as an outfielder with the Tigers from 1996-99, slashing .227/.289/.312 with four home runs and 32 RBI in 220 games. He also played one season each with the Cincinnati Reds and Colorado Rockies at the end of his playing career. 

The Nebraska native began his coaching career with the Baltimore Orioles in 2004 and remained with the franchise through 2007 before joining the Pittsburgh Pirates from 2008-19. He served as Pittsburgh's minor-league baserunning and outfield coordinator for nine seasons before serving as first base coach from 2017-19. 

Bartee then served as the Philadelphia Phillies' minor-league baserunning and bunting coordinator in 2020 before joining the Tigers as the franchise's baserunning and outfield coordinator in 2021. 

Bartee was elevated to first base coach in July after Chip Hale was hired as the University of Arizona's head coach. Tigers head coach A.J. Hinch decided in November to keep him on for the 2022 season. 

Hinch and Tigers pitching coach Chris Fetter spoke about Bartee on Twitter:

AJ Hinch @ajhinch

Words cannot describe my sadness. What we lost in baseball as a players’ coach and mentor with consistent positivity pales in comparison to what his family lost as a fiancée, father, and son. Rest In Peace, KB. 🙏🏻 <a href="https://t.co/VeZ7384H0I">https://t.co/VeZ7384H0I</a>

Detroit Tigers @tigers

A statement from Tigers Manager A.J. Hinch: <a href="https://t.co/92IgzQKQWr">pic.twitter.com/92IgzQKQWr</a>

Chris Fetter @ChrisFetter41

KB was a special human with an unbelievable heart. His smile and positivity would lift up those around him, even on their worst days. He made me better as a person/coach and will be dearly missed. <a href="https://t.co/6shIXkQs2V">pic.twitter.com/6shIXkQs2V</a>

Bartee is survived by his father, Jerry Bartee, and three children.