Former Jays coach Widmar Dies
Former Toronto coach and executive Al Widmar passed away Saturday after a battle with colon cancer. He was 80 years old.
Widmar spent more than half of his life in the game, working from 1942 to 2000. He pitched for 17 professional seasons, notching a 13-30 record in 114 big league games. Widmar dove right into coaching once his playing career ended and never really stopped after that. He worked for four more decades — two of them with the Blue Jays.
The former hurler first joined the Jays in 1980, serving as the team’s pitching coach. He remained in that capacity for 10 years, overseeing franchise stalwarts like Dave Stieb and Jimmy Key. After that, Widmar worked as a special assignment coach for two seasons and capped off his Toronto tenure as a special assistant to the general manager.
Widmar worked in that advisory capacity with both Pat Gillick and Gord Ash, but his professional career began 58 years earlier, when he signed with the Boston Red Sox as a 17-year-old. Widmar didn’t make it to the big leagues until 1947, and he pitched just two games for the Sox.
One trade later, the right-hander spent three seasons with Bill Veeck’s St. Louis Browns. He was a teammate of 3-foot-7 pinch-hitter Eddie Gaedel in 1951. The 27-year-old Widmar pitched one game for the Chicago White Sox in 1952 and never made it back to the big leagues, pitching five more years in the Minor Leagues before he called it quits.
Widmar coached 12 seasons in the Phillies organization and one with the defunct Seattle Pilots. He also spent several seasons as the farm director for the Milwaukee Brewers, adding to his wide-ranging resume. Widmar also coached two seasons in Baltimore before finding a home in Toronto, where he stayed for the rest of his career.
Widmar’s death came just six days after the passing of longtime Toronto broadcaster Tom Cheek, who lost a 16-month battle with brain cancer last Sunday. Visitation for Widmar will be held on Wednesday at the Floral Haven Funeral Home in Broken Arrow, Okla. Funeral services will be conducted Thursday at St. Madeline Parish in Tulsa.