Puerto Rican Major League coach dies after long battle with cancer

PHOENIX.- Puerto Rican Héctor Ortiz, who was manager and coach in the organization of the Texas Rangers in the Big leagues for 18 years, died Wednesday after a long fight against cancer. He was 54 years old.

The Rangers said Ortiz died at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, not far from the club’s spring training headquarters in the suburb of Surprise.

Ortiz was a minor league coach on the player development team for the past three years, after being part of the major league coaching staff under two previous managers, Jeff Banister and Chris Woodward.


For four seasons Ortiz served as first base coach and for one as bullpen coach and catchers coordinator. Additionally, he managed and coached in the Rangers’ minor league system, and was a manager for many years in the Puerto Rico winter league.

As a player with Rangers and Royals:

The former catcher played for 18 seasons between 1988 and 2005, appearing in 93 games in the Major Leagues with Kansas City and seven with the Rangers. Ortiz was selected by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 1988 draft.

Ortiz’s three-year fight against cancer inspired Rangers coach Bobby Wilson to design a blue sweatshirt inspired by the Texas receiver’s mask and the phrase “Hector Strong” on the sleeve. The proceeds from sales have been used to support families fighting cancer.

After years of failed attempts and particularly disappointing campaigns, the Rangers finally reached the World Series title this past season, when they beat a surprising Arizona Rattlers, who represented the League, in the “Fall Classic.” National.

FOUNTAIN: With information from AP