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UPDATE: Former Twins bullpen coach dies at 69

Former Minnesota Twins bullpen coach Rick Stelmaszek reacts to being recognized in a pre-game ceremony for the 1987 World Series champions as he stands between Tony Oliva and Dick Such before July 22, 2017, game with the Detroit Tigers at Target Field. Bruce Kluckhohn / USA TODAY Sports

MINNEAPOLIS -- Rick Stelmaszek, the baseball lifer who spent 32 years as a Twins coach, died Monday afternoon from complications related to pancreatic cancer. He was 69.

Stelmaszek worked under five Twins managers as bullpen coach and won World Series rings as part of Tom Kelly’s staff in 1987 and 1991. He worked under Ron Gardenhire from 2002-14, during which time he also scheduled and ran spring training workouts.

His 32 years with the Twins is the longest of any coach in franchise history and the third-longest in baseball history. At season’s end, the Twin Cities chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America honored Stelmaszek with the Herb Carneal Lifetime Achievement Award, which will be presented at the annual Diamond Awards in January.

“The Minnesota Twins are deeply saddened by the loss of Rick Stelmaszek,” the Twins said in a statement. “A true Twins legend, ‘Stelly’ was widely respected throughout baseball. He was a professional who dedicated his life to Twins baseball and instilled a winning culture into generations of Twins players.

“The club, like many of his friends throughout the game, is thinking of his wife and son, Kathy and Michael, and the entire Stelmaszek family during this difficult time.”

Stelmaszek left the Twins when Gardenhire was fired after the 2014 season. He returned this season to throw out the ceremonial first pitch on Opening Day.

“I had to be talked into it, to be honest with you,” Stelmaszek said then. “I think Opening Day is for players and managers and coaches and the people in Minnesota. (Twins President) Dave St. Peter took a different avenue. It took me by surprise.”

Stelmaszek was living on Chicago’s South Side, where he was born and raised. He played 60 major league games, and more than 1,000 in the minors, before becoming a Twins coach.

He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in December. Funeral arrangements will be announced in the coming days, the club said.

“Baseball’s my life; I feel I’m a lifer in baseball. That’s all I did,” he said in April. “I was very fortunate in my career to do something that I like. I didn’t feel like I had a job. It’s something I enjoyed doing, and I had a good life doing it. I made a lot of friends. … I’m looking at it from the perspective of an old goat, and I can say I’m very happy and proud.”

The St. Paul Pioneer Press is a media partner with Forum News Service

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