Ducks outfielder Kimera Bartee is seen at a news conference...

Ducks outfielder Kimera Bartee is seen at a news conference in Central Islip in 2004. Credit: Newsday / Michael E. Ach

Although Kimera Bartee only spent two seasons with the Long Island Ducks, his imprint on the franchise will be forever felt in Central Islip. The former major leaguer, who played for the Ducks in 2003 and 2004, was a key member of the 2004 team that brought the franchise its first Atlantic League Championship.

"He basically won the championship for us in 2004," said former Ducks player and manager Kevin Baez, who was a teammate of Bartee’s on the Ducks and in the Detroit Tigers' minor league system.

Bartee, who served as the Tigers' first-base coach last season and was set to continue in that role in the upcoming season, died unexpectedly Monday, the Ducks announced in a news release Tuesday afternoon. He was 49.

Bartee was a member of both the Ducks' 10th and 20th anniversary all-time teams, as voted by fans.

"Kimera was one of the best Ducks ever," Ducks founder, CEO and owner Frank Boulton said in a statement. "He made himself available to the organization, kept in close contact with us, and made us very proud when he made his way to the Major Leagues as a coach. He will be greatly missed and remembered fondly."

In two seasons with the Ducks, Bartee hit .324 with 35 home runs, 175 RBIs, 189 runs, stole 48 bases, and had a .402 on-base percentage. In 2004, Bartee hit .319 with 27 home runs, 88 RBIs, and was selected to the Atlantic League All-Star Game.

"He was an outstanding player," Baez said. "He could run, hit with power, and play defense. He pretty much did it all. As a teammate, he went above and beyond. On and off the field, he was a good person. His family and mine became pretty close, so this is pretty devastating. It’s shocking, to say the least. He was just a great, great person."

Bartee, a native of Omaha, Nebraska, played parts of six major league seasons with the Detroit Tigers, Cincinnati Reds and Colorado Rockies. He spent the majority of his major league career in Detroit, where hit .253 with a home run and 14 RBIs in 110 games as a rookie in 1996. He never again played more than 57 games in a season at the major league level and made his final big league appearance with the Rockies in 2001.

Before joining the Tigers as a baserunning instructor, Bartee coached in the Pittsburgh Pirates and Philadelphia Phillies organizations.

"Like many across baseball, I was devastated by the news of Kimera’s passing," Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said in a statement. "From the start of spring training last year, it was clear that 'KB' was the epitome of a player’s coach, having an uncanny ability to build deep connections with anyone from a rookie to a 10-year veteran. I was proud of his selflessness and adaptability when he quickly shifted to the Major League staff last season, and how excited he was about the bright future he had in both baseball and life. The sport has lost an amazing man, but more importantly, his family has lost a loving fiancé, father and son."

Bartee is survived by his fiancee and three children, according to

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