hailed for his ability as coach
Twins player and longtime Rosemount High School baseball coach Craig
Kusick, 57, died Wednesday.
His wife, Sarabeth, died a year later.
Recently Kusick started taking an experimental drug for MDS, Rosemount athletic director Mike Manning said, and on Sunday, Kusick was hospitalized with a high fever.
Kusick played for the Twins for all or parts of seven seasons from 1973 to '79. He was primarily a designated hitter or first baseman. In 1977, he had 12 homers and 45 RBI, both career highs, and batted .254 in 268 at-bats.
After retiring, Kusick became a baseball coach and health and physical education teacher at Rosemount. He was on the Irish baseball coaching staff from 1982 to 2004, serving as head coach the final 13 years. Seven of his teams played in the state tournament.
"Craig was one of the most enjoyable coaches I ever dealt with, a person everybody liked," Manning said. "He left us 2½ years ago, taking a leave of absence to be with his wife when she was going through a battle with ovarian cancer."
The Twins had a moment of silence for Kusick at the Metrodome before Wednesday's game against the Kansas City Royals.
Kusick, whose nickname as a ballplayer was Mongo, would have turned 58 on Saturday.
The Milwaukee native played at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and signed with the Twins as an amateur free agent in 1970.
Not all former major leaguers turn out to be good coaches afterward, but Kusick did.
"He just knew baseball better than any coach I've seen," Manning said. "He'd take teams that were less talented and, just by his sheer knowledge of baseball, he'd make the kids successful.
"He demanded so much from his kids. Coaches like him do not exist anymore. He'd get after kids like there is no tomorrow, but they loved him for it."
Funeral arrangements are pending.