|Catcher / Bullpen coach|
October 8, 1948|
|Died: November 6, 2017
|June 25, 1971, for the Washington Senators|
|Last MLB appearance|
|September 25, 1974, for the Chicago Cubs|
Stelmaszek spent 32 consecutive seasons (1981–2012) on the Twins' coaching staff and was the longest-tenured coach in Minnesota history. Stelmaszek trails only Nick Altrock, who spent 42 consecutive years (1912–1953) as a coach with the old Washington Senators (the predecessor to the Twins' franchise), and Manny Mota, who worked as a Los Angeles Dodgers coach for 34 straight years (1980–2013), as the longest-tenured coach in continuous service with one franchise in MLB history.
Stelmaszek was drafted on June 6, 1967 by the expansion edition of the Washington Senators in the eleventh round of the 1967 Major League Baseball Draft out of Mendel High School in Chicago, but didn't sign until August 28, keeping him from his minor league debut until 1968. The following year, Stelmaszek was assigned to low Single-A Geneva Senators and spent time between this team and the high Single-A Salisbury Senators. In 1969, he was back at Single-A, this time for the Shelby Senators in the Western Carolina League and played well, hitting .288 with 5 home runs and making the league All-Star team. In 1970, Stelmaszek was promoted to the AA Pittsfield Senators and despite his overall production at the plate dropping (hitting only .246 with 4 home runs and 47 runs batted in in 128 games), he was again named to the league all-star team. 1971 would see him promoted to the AAA Denver Bears where he hit only .247 with almost no power (1 home run, 1 triple and 1 double in 73 games), but he earned a call up and made his major league debut on June 25. However, after going hitless in nine at-bats, he was back in the minors within a month.
Major League career
After spending all of 1972 in the minors, splitting time between Hawaii, Indianapolis and Denver, Stelmaszek earned a second call to the majors in 1973. He was batting .143 in seven games with the Texas Rangers when he was dealt to the California Angels with Mike Epstein and Rich Hand for Lloyd Allen and Jim Spencer. Stelmaszek would last only 22 games with the Angels and spent most of the season at AAA with the Salt Lake City Angels.
He started the 1974 season back with Salt Lake City, but was traded to the Chicago Cubs on July 28 for Horacio Piña. Stelly hit his only career major league home run as a member of the Cubs on August 20 off Los Angeles Dodger Don Sutton. Sept 25, 1974 would be his last game in the majors.
Prior to spring training 1976, Stelmaszek was dealt to the New York Yankees for Gerry Pirtle and spent the season at AAA Syracuse. He returned to the Rangers' organization in 1977, but again spent the season at AAA (this time with the Tucson Toros). Stelmaszek would spend 1978, his last year playing organized ball, with the Minnesota Twins at Single A Wisconsin Rapids as a player-manager.
After retiring as a player at the end of the 1978 season, Stelmaszek was hired on as the full-time manager of the Rapids. In 1980, he was named Midwest League Manager of the Year after leading his team to a 77-64 record. Following the season, he joined the Twins' major league coaching staff under Johnny Goryl. During his coaching tenure with the Twins, which began in 1981, Stelmaszek was a member of two World Series championship teams (the 1987 and 1991 Twins) and he worked under five different Minnesota managers (Goryl, Billy Gardner, Ray Miller, Tom Kelly, and Ron Gardenhire).
The Twins signed him to a contract extension through 2012 in November 2010. Stelmaszek missed spring training and the first month of the 2011 season due to eye surgery. Former Twins catcher Phil Roof served as his replacement during his recovery. On October 3, 2012, following a 2-1 season-ending loss to the Toronto Blue Jays which capped the first back-to-back 96-loss seasons for the Twins, interim General Manager Terry Ryan announced the firing of Stelmaszek after 32 seasons with the club.
Stelmaszek was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in December 2016. On April 3, 2017, he was honored to throw out the first pitch at Target Field as the Twins opened their 57th season. Beforehand, he explained his goal: “Throw the ball and then walk from the mound to the dugout without falling.” Stelmaszek died on November 6, 2017, aged 69.
Longtime Twins reliever Glen Perkins had this to say following Stelmaszek's death:
My Grandpa taught me to throw lefty. Todd Oakes taught me how to be a man. Stelly taught me how to be a pro. Cancer took all 3. FU Cancer.
- "Minnesota Twins Coaching Staff". MLB.com. Archived from the original on July 14, 2011. Retrieved February 25, 2011.
- Jim Souhan (April 24, 2011). "Stelly returns after keeping eye on Twins". Star Tribune. Archived from the original on April 29, 2011. Retrieved April 26, 2011.
- John Thorn and Peter Palmer, Total Baseball, p. 2,157
- "Rick Stelmaszek". Baseball-Reference.com. Archived from the original on November 10, 2012.
- "Rick Stelmaszek". Baseball-Reference.com. Archived from the original on April 30, 2011. Retrieved April 26, 2011.
- "Los Angeles Dodgers 19, Chicago Cubs 8". Baseball-Reference.com. August 20, 1974. Archived from the original on April 25, 2011. Retrieved February 25, 2011.
- http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/MIN/ Retrieved April 26, 2011
- "Twins extend Ron Gardenhire". ESPN. The Associated Press. November 18, 2010. Archived from the original on November 22, 2010. Retrieved February 25, 2011.
- La Velle E. Neal III (October 4, 2012). "Twins coaching shakeup: Stelmaszek, Liddle, White, McWane out. Vavra, Ullger reassigned". Star Tribune. Archived from the original on October 6, 2012. Retrieved October 4, 2012.
- "Twins 'lifer' Rick Stelmaszek glad he said yes to first pitch". St. Paul Pioneer Press. Retrieved April 3, 2017.
- Career statistics and player information from MLB, or Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube, or Baseball-Reference (Minors)|, or Retrosheet, or Pura Pelota (Venezuelan Winter League)
|Minnesota Twins bullpen coach