Longtime Rangers coach passes away after battle with cancer

Rest in peace.

Texas Rangers Photo Day
Texas Rangers Photo Day / Norm Hall/GettyImages

A baseball lifer who spent 18 years with Texas Rangers organization, Hector Ortiz passed away Wednesday evening in Phoenix Arizona surrounded by his family after a long battle with pancreatic cancer.

Ortiz spent five years in MLB playing catcher with the Kansas City Royals and later spent his final season with the Texas Rangers in 2002. Soon after his playing career ended, he returned to the Rangers and served as a hitting coach for their Single-A team. After that, he became manager of the Arizona Rangers (the organization's rookie level Arizona league team).

In 2015 Ortiz was promoted to serve as the Ranger's first base coach under Jeff Banister; he remained at that position until the end of the 2017 season. He later served as the team's catching coach before being let go after the shortened 2020 season.

Several media members paid tribute to Ortiz, including Evan Grant with the Dallas Morning News, who described Ortiz as "a very nice man, a gentle communicator" who "fought a brave fight."

Several of Ortiz's former players also paid tribute to him, including former Rangers catcher Robinson Chirinos, who said, "Today we lost a great mentor and a leader, a Father for many of us. You impacted my life in an incredible way I will miss you boliche thank you."

Another one of Ortiz’s former players A.J. Pierzynski eulogized his former coach: "I was only a Ranger for one year but truly enjoyed getting to work with Hector that year as our coaching instructor. This is a sad day for his family and also anyone who knew Hector."

The team's VP of Communication, John Blake, eulogized Ortiz on behalf of the Rangers organization Wednesday as well.

"The Texas Rangers mourn the passing of longtime Major and Minor League coach Hector Ortiz, who died this morning at age 54 after a long cancer battle. The organization sends its thoughts and prayers to his family and friends."

The Rangers did pay tribute to Ortiz on Thursday before their spring training game against the Brewers began by posting a picture of him on the jumbotron, along with a moment of silence for him and his family.