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Padres bullpen coach Darrel Akerfelds dies from cancer

Jun 24, 2012, 6:18 PM EDT

Darrel Akerfelds AP

Darrel Akerfelds, a former big-league reliever and an 11-year member of the Padres’ coaching staff, died Sunday after a 16-month battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 50 years old.

Akerfelds was coaching for the Padres as recently as early April and continued to visit the team in recent weeks.

“He brought a tireless work ethic and compassion for baseball to the ballpark every day,” manager Bud Black said. “He was a loyal Padre to the end. Players and coaches were made better by Ak. He will be sorely missed, and what he brought to this organization will never be forgotten.”

Akerfelds was the seventh overall pick in the 1983 draft by the Mariners. He made his major league debut with the A’s three years later and spend part of five seasons in the big leagues. He had his best year in 1990, going 5-2 with a 3.77 ERA in 93 innings out of the pen for the Phillies.

After his playing career, Akerfelds was part of the Padres organization for 16 years, first as a minor league coach. He joined the major league staff in 2001 and helped preside over some of the game’s best bullpens over the last decade.

He’s survived by his girlfriend, Julie, and son, Dalton.

  1. fearlessleader - Jun 24, 2012 at 6:26 PM

    A very good man and a very nasty disease. My father survived it; few are so fortunate. Kind thoughts to his family and to the Padres.

  2. randygnyc - Jun 24, 2012 at 7:09 PM

    Sad news. Pancreatic cancer kills all it’s victims at a 100% rate. Some are fortunate to get 5 years, at the most. I lost my uncle this way. Condolences to the Akerfelds family.

  3. ptfu - Jun 24, 2012 at 9:54 PM

    Even before Ak got sick, I never heard anybody say anything but the best about him. Ak, you molded uncertain kids into confident young men, not to mention scrap-heap relievers into firemen. You will be missed. My thoughts are with your family.

    Here’s hoping that a Darrel Akerfelds memorial plaque can be placed in the Padres bullpen at Petco.

  4. micker716 - Jun 24, 2012 at 11:27 PM

    Despite a bottom of the barrel payroll, and an ever-changing cast, the Padres have consistently fielded a top end bullpen. Ak was a big reason why. He will be missed.

  5. elchief157 - Jun 25, 2012 at 6:15 AM

    RIP AK, you will be missed

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