Rusty Kuntz

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Russell Jay Kuntz

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Biographical Information[edit]

Rusty Kuntz was on the division-winning 1983 Chicago White Sox, but was traded away in mid-season to the Minnesota Twins. He hit his first major league homer with the Twins in his second game with them on June 23rd, leading off the game against former teammate Floyd Bannister. In 1984, he was on the World Series champion Detroit Tigers, and appeared in two games in the Series. He had his best year, hitting .286 with 12 doubles, 2 homers and 22 RBIs in 84 games. He came up as a pinch-hitter for Johnny Grubb with the bases loaded in the 5th inning of Game 5 of the World Series, facing Craig Lefferts of the San Diego Padres with the score tied 3-3. On the first pitch, he hit a pop-up to short right field which 2B Alan Wiggins caught with his back to the plate, but, smartly, Kirk Gibson tagged up at third base and scored the go-ahead run, giving Rusty a sacrifice fly and the game-winning RBI as the Tigers never relinquished the lead.

He played in 7 seasons in the majors, with an average of .236. He drew more than the average number of walks and stuck around largely because he was a very good defensive outfielder who could also pinch-hit against lefthanders.

After retiring as a player, he was first base coach for the Seattle Mariners from 1989 to 1992, and first base coach for four seasons with the Florida Marlins (1995-1996 and 1999-2000), and first base coach with the Pittsburgh Pirates (2003-2004). In other years, he has been a minor league instructor in those organizations. Kuntz was first base coach of the Kansas City Royals in 2008 and 2009, then after working as a special assistant to the general manager and as an outfield, bunting and baserunning coach for the Royals at the start of 2010, then replaced Dave Owen on the major league coaching staff late in the year. He returned to his front office duties in 2012, but in 2013 he was back on the big league coaching staff as first base coach again, staying until the end of the 2017 season. After a two-year hiatus, he returned to his familiar position in 2020, but then opted out due to health and safety concerns related to the Coronavirus pandemic. He did coach first base in 2021, then in 2022 he ceded the position to Damon Hollins, the man who had stepped in for him a year earlier, although he remained on the coaching staff as an assistant coach.

Kuntz's son, Kevin Kuntz, was drafted by the Royals in the 2009 amateur draft, but went on to play at the University of Kansas. He was selected by the Royals again in the 2013 amateur draft.

He is one of only two major league players to come out of Cal State Stanislaus.

He was the same age as Chet Lemon, his teammate on both the White Sox and the Tigers.

Notable Achievement[edit]

Further Reading[edit]

  • Jeffrey Flanagan: "Kuntz's genial demeanor wins over players: Longtime Royals first-base coach has adapted his style",, March 17, 2016. [1]
  • Mike McClary: "Rusty Kuntz", in Mark Pattison and David Raglin, ed.: Detroit Tigers 1984: What A Start! What A Finish!, SABR Publications, Phoenix, AZ, 2012, pp. 103-106. ISBN 1933599448

Related Sites[edit]