Saturday, February 24

Touching tribute, Jack White, big crowd among highlights as Tigers kick off ’22

Detroit — Opening Day is a time for renewal, but also time for reflection.

The Tigers, before Friday’s home opener, paid tribute to former player and first-base coach Kimera Bartee, who died of a brain tumor in December. He was 49.

Bartee’s son, Amari, threw out the ceremonial first pitch.

Jerry and Ramona Bartee, parents of former Tiger Kimera Bartee, watch a video of him playing during Opening Day festivities for the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park, Friday, April 8, 2022 in Detroit.

“He will always be with us. His locker is intact. He’s a part of the coaching staff in spirit,” Tigers manager AJ Hinch said. “We miss him.

“I’m proud of the coaching staff we have. I think it’s one of the best I’ve had in my managerial career. But there is a void in our heart.”

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In 2022, on the right sleeve of their jerseys, the Tigers will wear blue circle patches with the initials “KB” in white. The Tigers presented Bartee’s family — including father Jerry, mother Ramona, fiancee Terri Slide, sisters Ramona and Kambell, and brother Khareth — with a hat as well as the first base used during the final home game of 2021. They also showed a tribute on the videoboard, and held a moment of silence.

Bartee played six seasons in the major leagues, including his first four, 1996-99, with the Tigers. He joined Hinch’s coaching staff last season, and headlined the Tigers’ Negro Leagues panel discussion last summer.

Amari Bartee, right, son of late Tigers first baseman Kimera Bartee, gets a hug from Tigers outfielder Robbie Grossman after throwing out the first pitch during Opening Day festivities for the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park, Friday, April 8, 2022 in Detroit.

On that panel, he told a story of growing up in an avid baseball house in Nebraska, his dad, a former head coach of Creighton, often reminding Kimera, “If you don’t play baseball, you get out of the house.”

The Tigers also continue to remember Mr. Tiger, Al Kaline, who died April 6, 2000, at 85. A fixture in the Comerica Park home clubhouse, his corner locker also remains intact.

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