WHERE ARE THEY NOW?

WHERE ARE THEY NOW?: Rick Stelmaszek

2013-07-29T19:00:00Z 2013-07-30T16:54:04Z WHERE ARE THEY NOW?: Rick StelmaszekMike Nieto mike.nieto@nwi.com, (219) 933-3232 nwitimes.com
July 29, 2013 7:00 pm  • 

Former Major League player and coach Rick Stelmaszek picked up a different club this spring and hit a smaller ball.

Instead of hitting fungos or laying down bunts with a bat for his players to field, the South Chicago native is swinging a golf club and working on putts.

"After 46 years in baseball, I honestly didn't know what to do in the spring," Stelmaszek said. "I was always gone and it was just nice to be home for the spring and summer."

He said his wife Kathy made sure he wasn't idle.

"Forty-six years of 'honey dos' to catch up on," he joked.

Not that he didn't enjoy his run as a coach for the Minnesota Twins, mostly in the bullpen. He was a coach from 1981-2012 when interim general manager Terry Ryan fired him.

Stelmaszek spent 32 consecutive seasons on the Twins' coaching staff and was the longest-tenured coach in Minnesota history. Only Nick Altrock (42 seasons) with the Washington Senators and Manny Mota with the Dodgers (34 years) have spent more consecutive years as a coach with one organization.

"Winning those two World Series (1987 and 1991) was really special and the first one was really special for the state of Minnesota," Stelmaszek said. "They had finally won something.

"The Vikings had lost those Super Bowls and the Twins lost in 1965 (to the Dodgers). They didn't do too well with their guys in presidential elections. It was special for us too because Tom Kelly and I remember those guys from when they came up from the minors, and saw that club form and come together."

He had the opportunity to work for the Twins at Metropolitan Stadium, the Metrodome and Target Field.

"It was a smaller market, but we had great fans and the Twins are a state, regional team," Stelmaszek said. "That's what was great about the Metrodome. Fans would come from the rest of the state, Iowa, Wisconsin, North Dakota and South Dakota and not have to worry about being rained out."

He in played 60 Major League games from 1971-74 with the expansion Washington Senators, Texas Rangers, California Angels and Cubs. He was on the 1976 New York Yankees, but did not play a game.

In Washington, he played for hitting king Ted Williams.

"I was in awe when I came up to the majors," Stelmaszek said. "The way Ted carried himself. He was not a shy man and he was not a quiet person. When he spoke, he took over the room.

"I could never figure out why he helped opponents with their stance, hitting. I would say, 'Why are you helping those guys? They are the ones we are trying to beat.'"

He also was a teammate of Denny McClain and Frank Howard.

"Frank Howard was a true gentlemen," Stelmaszek said. "He was a big guy (6-foot-7), but he was a great teammate and he was loved in Washington.

"He would take rookies out to dinner or for a few beers after a game. He never had a bad word to say about anybody."

Stelmaszek said he's had no regrets.

"I have had a great life and enjoyed every minute of it," Stelmaszek said. "You don't know how lucky I am."

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