Christmas time is one to celebrate life, specifically that of baby Jesus coming into this world bringing hope and righteousness to the world.
Jerry Kindall’s life reflected that for those who were closely associated with him during his 24 years as Arizona’s head coach from 1973 to 1996. His name will be forever associated with the Christmas holiday season after his passing at age 82 on Christmas Eve following a massive stroke.
The deeply religious man left a lasting impact on his players, fellow coaches, administrators, and fans alike.
Robbie Moen, one of Kindall’s finest hitters at Arizona who batted .402 in 1991, messaged me yesterday to offer his thoughts on Kindall:
“He was a man of his word. He never minced his words, and he always told you the truth — whether you wanted to hear it or not,” Moen wrote. “And because of that, you had the utmost respect for him. Coach Kindall taught me to respect authority, he showed me the importance of doing things the proper way and not taking shortcuts, and finally he was the reason Arizona Baseball was as good as it was, and why I wanted to be part of it. Coach Kindall is an icon of the University of Arizona Athletics and he will be always be remembered and never forgotten.”
Moen’s teammate at Arizona, pitcher Tod Brown, now the head coach at North Dakota State, issued this statement:
“It was an honor and privilege to play for Coach Kindall. I can say with confidence that I am in a better position in life due to Coach Kindall and the Arizona Baseball program. He will be deeply missed.”
Kindall and ASU coaching legend Jim Brock had some historic games because of talent on both sides during their hey day. They exhibited that an intense rivalry can be handled with class and dignity between them.
Former ASU player Willie Bloomquist offered this heartfelt tweet of Kindall:
May God Bless all of those left behind by U of A legendary coach and tremendous man- Jerry Kindall. One of the finest I’ve ever been around. You will be missed. #beardown
The following are some reactions of Kindall’s passing, including those of my own. I was fortunate to be the Arizona baseball beat reporter for The Arizona Daily Star in the early 1990’s when Moen was starring for the Wildcats after his stellar career at Flowing Wells.
This first: In all my dealings with Kindall, the word that sticks out the most: class. What he showed to everybody is the way he certainly was, a lifestyle that is a lesson for all us, really. He was a person his players, coaching staff and the University of Arizona could count on because he was wholesome and stuck to his values.
He would occasionally ask to speak with me individually after the interview sessions were over following games. I felt like a player must have felt when Kindall pulled them aside.
He questioned sometimes why I wrote something the way I did, especially after an Arizona loss. He did so in a respectful manner, not in a condescending way. He just wanted to offer his opinion and give his viewpoint on what happened in the game. I understood that and respected wholeheartedly what he had to say.
This was a legend having a conversation with me about baseball. Can that be topped?
Kindall also offered his thanks and his encouragement to me as a young reporter. Our exchanges will last with me forever.
When I grew up, the coaching titans at UA & ASU were Jim Young vs Frank Kush, Fred Snowden vs Ned Wulk and Jerry Kindall vs Jim Brock. Young is the last one with us, living in Tucson, after Kindall's passing. These coaches made the rivalry. They don't make 'em like them any more.
In terms of coaches at Arizona, Jerry Kindall is certainly on the Mount Rushmore along with Lute Olson, Mike Candrea and Dick Tomey, in my opinion. This is truly a sad day for Tucson and the state of Arizona.
Had great fortune of covering UA baseball in early 1990's. Look back fondly at interaction w/legendary coach Jerry Kindall, who passed away. Always remember him often jokingly calling me "Julian Javier", a rival of his w/Cardinals when he played w/the Cubs in 1960's. RIP Coach.
"I think the thing about Coach was that not only did he teach us to respect the game of baseball, but he taught us to respect people. I absolutely love him!!!!!!" — Terry Francona, to me in 2007, on Jerry Kindall. #ArizonaWildcats
We lost a great man today! Outstanding Baseball Coach and an even better man! My thoughts and prayers go out to Jerry Kindall’s family! Thanks for being a great mentor! #Beardown
RIP Jerry Kindall… Proud to have played at arizonabaseball because… https://t.co/ReqCqX7rCY
#JerryKindall started 154 games for my #ClevelandIndians in 1962 playing alongside #TitoFrancona, dad of #TerryFrancona who he would later coach at #UofA. @CoachAndyLopez spoke to me #ChristmasDay about the Jerry Kindall he knew: https://t.co/FMspfXVqO2 Photo: @Suntimes pic.twitter.com/ORez4KFSnW
Condolences, well wishes and stories poured in last night after Coach Kindall passed away, showing the impact he had.
As Terry Francona said: “Some people talk the talk, Jerry Kindall walked the walk…He lived life the way it was supposed to be lived.”
Next to my own father, Jerry Kindall was one of the greatest men I’ve known. He lived his life with faith and dignity. Wins and losses were secondary to his real passion, caring for people. Thank you JK and RIP.🙏
My condolences to the Kindall an the @ArizonaBaseball Family on the loss of legendary Coach Jerry Kindall. Blessed to have watched him coach during my early years as a UA student. May God Bless You… Rest In Peace #JerryKindall @AZATHLETICS
RIP, coach Kindall. May you enjoy the friendly confines of heaven… https://t.co/6sOptthbN2
The absolute nicest man I have ever met Jerry Kindall who happened to be my college baseball coach at @AZATHLETICS has passed away. ! He was a legend in college baseball but left his mark and love on so many. Love you dearly J K and will miss you but you live on in all of us ! 💔
The #Gophers mourn the loss of legendary Jerry Kindall.
I feel for Coach Kindall's family having to say goodbye on Christmas Eve but knowing his faith it was fitting. Jerry Kindall slid safely into home one last time. (Matthew 14:2-3)
Saddened, but uplifted by the life of Jerry Kindall, a man with a plan who never wavers from his moral code. Ever.
Really tough day. We lost an absolutely fantastic baseball man and an even better person today – Jerry Kindall. A Champion who always did it the right way with class! Our thoughts and prayers are with his family. Bear Down! https://t.co/IcJAPI4I97
Saddened and stunned to hear of the passing of Jerry Kindall. A friend.a wonderful teammate. A gentle and kind man of deep Christian faith. And a coach that impacted many lives. A life well lived . Condolences to the Kindall family
Our thoughts go out to our comrades over at @ArizonaBaseball and the family, friends and colleagues of the late Jerry Kindall.
He was one of the good ones. pic.twitter.com/6Hiey5M1ua
Jerry Kindall was one of the nicest, servant hearted people I’ve ever met & had the pleasure of working with. Saddened by the news of his passing.
Jerry Kindall was a Hall of Fame Coach. The man he was every single day, and the men he helped others become outside of baseball is his unequivocally impactful legacy. He’s a man worth modeling your life after. Rest In Peace, Coach. pic.twitter.com/C258xrv5LM
FOLLOW @JAVIERJMORALES ON TWITTER!
ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.