[SPORTS] Wendell Kim - Coach for Dusty Baker's Chicago Clubs
- Wendell Kim stands tall at third base
An exclusive feature for Cubs Insider subscribers
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
Wendell Kim, who was a coach for Dusty Baker in San Francisco from
1993-96, joined the Cubs in 2003. (AP/Pat Sullivan)
This is Wendell Kim's 15th season as a big league coach and his
second with the Chicago Cubs. The feisty 54-year-old takes his job
very seriously -- and can handle all criticism.
But think before you heckle. During the Cubs series at San
Francisco, some critics were upset that Kim didn't send Aramis
Ramirez home on a couple base hits. Well, Ramirez has a tender groin
and can't run 100 percent. Kim knows that because he's checked. He
gets an update every day on the players' health -- and also checks
with the player.
Kim was with Cubs manager Dusty Baker in San Francisco, and joined
him in Chicago. Baker only keeps coaches he trusts. What you may not
know is that when Kim joined the Giants coaching staff in 1989, he
became the first Korean-American to put on a big league uniform.
Kim took a break from his duties to answer your questions.
Q: What are all the responsibilities of a Third Base coach and how
did you get started? Thanks and Go Cubs!
A: I was named the third base coach after being the first base coach
for a copule years with San Francisco and that was with Roger Craig.
He was the manager in San Francisco when I first started in '89.
I check with the trainer and they let me know about any injuries so
I know how to work the runners. A lot of times, the players didn't
say anything. They didn't want anyone to know they were hurt. Then
they got my trust and it's easier to talk to them. I go to the
trainers every day now. I'll say, 'Are you OK?' and they may
say, 'No, my knee's bothering me.' I also give the signals to the
hitter and the runner at first and second base.
Q: Wendell, I think you are an awesome coach but I would like to
know what goes through your mind when there is a man on second base
and the batter gets a base hit. Do you have to think fast or do you
Danny N. - Rochester, New York
A: I've already planned ahead. I know who the runner is, can I take
a chance with him, does he have an "owie." It's like I have a check
list. In my pocket, I have if an outfielder has an average arm in
left field, or the center fielder has an above average arm, I have
that written down. I don't need it - it's more a superstitious type
Q: It's no secret that you have taken a lot of criticism from the
local fans on your coaching at third for the last two seasons. Have
you approached your coaching any differently as of late based on any
feedback from the coaching staff or management?
Lou T. - Chicago
A: Not necessarily. They know I'm a standup guy. I may change my
attitude about that. They're (the media) not always fair. When I was
wrong, I admit it. Then I got criticism for being honest. Now, I'm
not saying anything.
Q: The press in Chicago may not be as brutal as in NY, but its
ruthless enough. I wanted to know with all the press about Wendell
waving people around third, if it's really bothersome in that it
affects your job?
A: If they were fair, like they were when they came to me when I did
something well -- that was the first time ever -- but it'd be
totally different for me. I was there when I messed up. And some of
the reporters took it for weakness and that's not fair.
Q: What is your most memorable call to send or not to send a runner
that worked out or didn't?
A: There have been a lot. That's part of the job. It's a thankless
job. I've sent hundreds of runners. When you score 12 runs, without
getting anybody thrown out, that's fun.
Q: I am a life long Cubs fan. What do you feel the Cubs have to do
to get into the playoffs this year? Thanks to you and the Cubs for
all of your hard work.
A: We've already started. We had a lot of injuries early and that
makes it tough for people to come back. We have to keep on plugging
and play within ourselves. We have Dusty Baker, whom I've known for
quite a few years, and he's a never give up guy. That's how I am.
I'll go to the bitter end to win a ballgame.
Q: You spent a few years coaching with the San Francisco Giants,
including 1989. What do remember most about the postseason series
against the Cubs? And what is up with the card tricks I hear you
Ryan M. - Naperville, Illinois
A: The most memorable thing was that the Wild Thing (Mitch Williams)
was on the mound. But before that, early in the morning, Will Clark
was looking at tapes of the Wild Thing. In that last game in
Candlestick, Will Clark got a base hit off the Wild Thing to win the
game. Watching the tapes helped. He never came to the park that
early in the morning. I was watching from behind the door. I thought
that was awesome.
I've done magic tricks for years and have done it for almost every
Major League team. One of the first ones was Cincinnati. Glenn
Braggs is the one who said, "How about doing some tricks?"
Q: Dear Mr. Kim, how old were you when you first started playing
Aaron T. (age 7) - McAllen, Texas
A: I was eight years old. I remember that because I was seven and
walked by the Little League in Long Beach, Calif., and I saw people
getting trophies and I said I wanted one with my brother. He
couldn't play until the next year. I ended up playing third base --
I had a first base glove and my mom bought me a Don Zimmer glove. I
played third and I was a hustler. I think I hit 22 home runs in 24
games, and I hit .790 something. I was a pitcher and threw quite a
few no-hitters. My best friend broke up a no-hitter and shutout with
one swing -- but he's still my friend now.
Q: Hey Wendell, thanks for being a great coach. When do you plan on
managing a Major League club or do you even consider it?
Gil - Chicago
A: I don't really consider it because I've seen a lot of things. My
name won't even appear anywhere and the reason is this -- a lot of
the owners are business guys. They're not owners like they used to
be. If an owner hires me and I fail because I have no experience,
the owner gets blamed. If I was qualified and managed many years and
I mess up in a new situation, then it's my fault because I have all
the experience going. I can't see an owner taking all the blame on a
Q: As a high school baseball coach, I am in your position often.
What is the most difficult decision you have to make at third base?
Andy S. - Chapmansboro, Tennessee
A: It's not that difficult a job. You have to know the players. You
have to see how they run.
Q: I think you are a great third base coach, and I am so glad you
are a part of the Cubs organization! What is your favorite Cubs
memory? (And I mean just up to this point in time because I'm sure
the World Series win they WILL have someday will be your favorite!)
Kelley B. - Chicago
A: I haven't really been here long enough. Going into the
championship series last year, basically that's memorable with me.
My first year, I went to the World Series, which was awesome. Being
with a great group of guys with the Chicago Cubs is memorable in
itself. You meet a lot of good people.
Q: I was just wondering how tall you are. All of the players look
like giants when they stand next to you?
Amy - Cedar Rapids, Iowa
A: I used to be called the "Littlest Giant" when I was with the
Giants a long time ago. When I was playing, they would pick on me. I
don't lose in a fight.
Q: Hi Wendell, I just wanted to know if you think the pick up of
Nomar is enough to lift the Cubs into the World Series?
Mitch S. - Valparaiso, Indiana
Q: What do you do in your free time away from the Cubs?
Vonnie W. - Herndersonville, North Carolina
A: I work on my magic tricks a little bit. I've taught quite a few
kids, like Moises Alou's son. If they want to do it, I'll teach
them. I do play golf, I play a lot of golf, but I haven't been able
to play because I tore my labrum. I have new clubs back home in my
house. I can't wait.
Q: While many have criticized your aggressive baserunning, I have
praised it. I'm a pitcher and a good way to frustrate a pitcher is
to constantly run on him, this makes him concentrate on the runners
more and less on the batter and the location of his pitches,
therefore giving better pitches for your hitters to see. What would
you say is the biggest positive to aggressive baserunning?
A: You want to try to shake up the pitcher. A lot of guys don't do
that any more. I remember certain players would jump around and if
that pitcher has a good pickoff move, they find out they can't do
that. I've always been aggressive but you have to know your players.