Nostalgia: Whatever Happened to … Wendell Kim?

Kim’s in the middleWith apologies to Dave Righetti, Wendell Kim (that’s him in the middle, by the way) may be the most popular non-head coach/manager in the history of the Bay Area. Born in Honolulu, Kim holds the distinction of being the first Korean-American to wear a major-league uniform. He had a brief stint in the minors as a ballplayer and then coach, but it was in San Francisco that his legacy as a base coach was cemented.

Before every inning, the short little Hawaiian-Korean man sprinted out to the third-base coaching box, a ritual which brought a ray of light to the otherwise completely foggy ‘Stick. Kim became the third-base coach during the 1989 season and held the job for eight highly mostly successful seasons, quickly garnering a reputation for being aggresive on the basepaths. Kim’s tactics (and antics) made him a fan favorite in the Bay Area, but they didn’t fly so well in subsequent stops in Boston and Chicago, where the fans gave him nicknames like “Wavin’ Wendell” and “Send ‘Em In Kim.”

Since his 2004 campaign with Dusty’s Cubbies, Wendell Kim has been out of baseball, but not out of our hearts.

Wendell Kim [wikipedia]

Official Site [wk20]

52 Responses to Nostalgia: Whatever Happened to … Wendell Kim?

  1. corneliuscharles says:

    A 5 foot Giant indeed.

  2. Dave says:

    So what has Wendell been doing since 2004? Does anyone know?

  3. […] There seems to be more talk about Wakamatsu being a manager than there was for Wendell Kim, who was a coach with the Giants, Red Sox and Cubs in recent years. […]

  4. Kristian says:

    Been a Bo Sox fan forever, used to love to watch W. Kim run to 3rd base even if it was a bad game. Would kill to find video of it to show my nephew. If anyone has insight please let me know!

  5. Travis Morris says:

    Wendell kim is currently living in Tempe AZ in a Alzheimer’s community. he has been diagnosed and is still enjoying his days here in the valley of the sun.

  6. Paul Reyna says:

    Travis,
    Is this for real? I am an old (1985) Fresno friend of Wendell’s. Is he truly in AZ. Do know his email address?

    • Donnie says:

      Yea, Wendell was sent to the Mayo Clinic where it was determined he has a 95% chance of an early on-set Alzheimers. He is not playing golf anymore of recent and not driving a car. It was mentioned that he is strong physically but the disease is depressing and frustrating for him. He continues to see doctors at the Mayo Clinic.

      • Brenda says:

        Does anyone know how to reach Wendell? I knew him back when he was a player for the Phoenix Giants and I would like to contact him and say hello.

    • linda hodson says:

      Yes, I was his neighbor in Dominguez for many years. I visited with him in 2012. He is indeed an Alheimer patient in AZ.

  7. Bob Gire says:

    I played with Wendell Kim at Cal Poly in the early 70s and would like to say hello and wish him the best. Bob Gire

  8. Vicki S says:

    I knew Wendell when he played Double A ball here in Lafayette Louisiana in 1975-1976. Would love to get back in touch with him. He is in my prayers daily.

  9. Greg says:

    Last I heard, he is in bad shape and deteriorating rapidly. I am not here to spread rumours or bad info, but this info came from his daughter. I don’t think he even knows his family any more. I knew him years ago.

  10. Cyn Con says:

    I might have a way to contact Wendell’s family…you can PM me at cyncon924@yahoo.com.

    • John Andrews says:

      If you come across any information I would appreciate knowing about it, I played and lived with Wendell in the minors at Decatur, Fresno and Lafayette. Would like to check in with him to see what is going on. Last time we visited was in Chicago several years ago.

      • Susan White says:

        Hello John,

        I remember you playing here in Lafayette. I am not sure if you remember our family, The Browns, we all worked for the Drillers. Wow, so good to hear from one of the Driller’s. My mom, has a huge scrapbook from all the years you guys played here. I hope all of you guys are doing well !!!!

      • John Andrews says:

        I am doing fine, married with three adult children. I have wonderful memories of Lafayette, I remember it being hot and humid. I remember my parents coming down from Illinois to visit and they both ended up in the hospital. They kept things interesting for me. Anyway, thanks for responding and I wish you and your family the best. I was hoping to visit Wendell in Arizona but I think I;m to late. Take care.

      • Susan White says:

        Glad to hear all is well with you.

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  12. Marie Kim says:

    To All concerned about Wendell K Kim he is my Uncle and is in a care facility for Alzheimers he is not doing well and he will never get better if you want to help you can make contributions to the Alzheimers Assoc. His wife and son still live in Arizona and his mother is still in Long Beach, Ca I reside in Northern Cal. I will update any of you that want to know more thank you for you love and devotion to Wendell

    MLKim

    • John Andrews says:

      Thank you for the update, I played in the minors with Wendell and we lived together for two years. I have tried to find out where he is located but have had no luck. I was hoping to make a trip to Arizona but it sounds like I’m to late. I saw him a couple of times when he was with the Cubs and did not realize this was happening. So sad when I heard this, we had some great times together. Please keep me in mind and give him a hug for me when you see him. He is in my prayers.

      • Marilyn says:

        Hi John,
        I know you wont’ remember me, but I was a big Fresno Giants fan when you played here. My parents and I sat in the stands behind third base. Glad to hear you are doing well. I was keeping in touch with Shannon (Wendell’s) stepdaughter before she passed away so I knew of Wendell’s condition. It made me very sad. He is such a great guy. I just now found this web page and I was happy to see another former Fresno Giant on here. Take care.

        Marilyn Watkins

      • Anonymous says:

        Marilyn

        It is wonderful hearing from people in the past, I really enjoyed my time in Fresno, great people and wonderful memories. I am going to be in Phoenix for a week you wouldn’t happen to know how to locate where Wendell is, I know he would not recognize me but I would still like to have a chance to see him one more time. I think the facility is Claire Bridge but there are several in the Phoenix area. Thanks for the reply. I visited with John and Joyce VanOrnum a couple of years ago at there home in California, they were both doing well. Take care

    • Susan White says:

      I am from Lafayette, LA, my family and I became friends with Wendell while he was playing for the Lafayette Drillers. He holds very special memories and love in our hearts. It saddens me to hear about his illness. It is so ironic that my brother and him were very close friends and that about 3 years ago my Brother suffered a major stroke and is living in AZ.

      • Bob Drew says:

        Hi Susan how is Randall doing?

      • Susan says:

        Randall is doing good! He has learned how to turn himself on his side. It has been really hard on Mom since his wife moved him to Arizona. She talks to him at least 3-4 times a week. I have a Facebook page under Susan White, with pics if Randall

    • Jay Dillard says:

      Marie,
      Wendell is a great guy! I played ball w/ him in A, AA and AAA while he was w/the Giants.
      My name is Jay Dillard and I’ve been in the Phx area since I left the game in ’77.
      I was reminiscing the other day as spring training is opening up here in AZ.
      I google searched Wendell and came up w/this information. Hopefully he’s holding his own.
      I was wondering is Wendell taking visitors?
      Would be great to stop by even for a short visit. Best Regards, J. Dillard

    • Anonymous says:

      Hello MLKim, I played with Wendell at Cal Poly Pomona in the early 70s and have great memories. So sorry to hear about his Alz problem. Please tell him for me that he is a great baseball player and coach. I would love to visit him at him home. Take care, Bob Gire

    • Bob Drew says:

      Hi Marie my name is Bob Drew i was the General Manager in Lafayette La when Wendell played there,he was loved by everyone,he would come to the park early every day and play catch with the local kids,my kids my Secretary s kids and the neighborhood kids,our heart goes out to Wendell and his family

      • Susan Brown says:

        Hey Bob,

        I am sure you don’t remember me, but I am sure you remember Ray & Mary Brown and my brother Randall. How are things going. Dad paaed away in 2002. Randall had a major stroke in 2008. He is paralyzed with brain injury and living in Bull Shoals AZ. Well hope all is well with you and family.

      • Susan says:

        Hey Bob, have you received my emails?

  13. Anonymous says:

    John, last we heard, Wendell was in a facility called Clare Ridge or Clare Bridge in Arizona. It is a specialty facility for Alzheimers patients.

  14. jpeterson says:

    I just read on another blog that Wendell passed away – is that right?

  15. Bob Drew says:

    Hi Susan,i do remember you,Mary and Rays daughter,i mentioned you to my kids Bobby,Terry and Robin,i’ll look for u on facebook.

  16. Bob Drew says:

    cant find u on fb,look for me Bob Drew

  17. Anonymous says:

    wendall did not die , he is still alive

  18. Anonymous says:

    Like it says here, he is in an assisted living ,his alzheimer’s has progressed , he is on a hospice and for right now he is doing fine , I visit him frequently , It is true he does not remember anyone , but he is still physically strong.

  19. John Andrews says:

    Thank you so much for the info, please know that I think of him often.
    Take care and God bless Wendell and his family.

    • melanie cantu says:

      I was crushed to hear about Wendell. Stumbled onto this info looking for someone else. Wendell and I dated in 1973 while he played in Decatur. My sister dated his buddy, Freddy Kualua(?). Probably mutilated that spelling. Wendell was a funny, VERY upbeat guy, zipping around in his little orange car. My best to his family. I’ll remember you and Wendell in prayer.

      • linda hodson says:

        I’m so happy to hear that Wendell dated you in 1973. His little sister Lorita and I were neighbors and best friends for many years. I am still in contact with Wendell’s mom Doris. She is lively and very beautiful. She will be happy to know that Wendell is remembered fondly. Thank you for your post. Linda

  20. jpeterson says:

    does anyone know if Wendell’s stepdaughter, Shannon, passed away? I just read that she did and am shocked…any update on that?

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  22. Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems as though you relied on
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  23. John Grimes says:

    I played for Wendell for 2 years in the minors. 1985 Fresno Giants, 1986 Shreveport Captains. I got to wondering about him and stumbled across this site. I, like many others, am saddened by this news, as I was hoping to get a phone # and contact him. Please give my regards to him and his family. BTW, is DK still around? He was a youngster back then.

    • themelly says:

      John Grimes – Was reading about WK and thinking of you guys. Found the story on your winter jobs the other day, with the drawing of you in the oil field (Mackey with the UPS package, Todd Oakes with the ref’s whistle, Rich Henning with the tiles and Burkie with the bowling ball).

      Tonight, thinking of WK and all of you. Feeling like I was kicked in the heart. Peace, Mary Ellen Driscoll

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