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Brian Walton's news and commentary on the St. Louis Cardinals (TM) and their minor league system

Former Cardinals hitting coach Mitchell Page dies at 59

Former St. Louis Cardinals hitting coach Mitchell Page passed away in his sleep at the age of 59. The news was first reported via Twitter by ESPN’s Baseball Tonight analyst and former St. Louis Cardinals player Eduardo Perez and later confirmed by the Cardinals.

After several years away from the game following a stint as Washington Nationals hitting coach, Page returned to the Cardinals as Single-A Quad Cities hitting coach last spring. He left the job in early May, however. I last saw Page in November when he stopped by the Cardinals’ Arizona Fall League camp to offer instruction to several prospects.  (Page is center in the photo, with Mark DeJohn and Derrick May.)

After serving as the Nats organization’s minor league hitting instructor in 2005, Page was named as Washington’s major league hitting coach for 2006. After the season and in the midst of a managerial change, the club first announced Page would be returning to his previous minor league role for 2007 before reversing field three weeks later, keeping him with the big club.

That wouldn’t last long. In May 2007, early in his second season with the major league club, Page left his job for what was described as “undisclosed personal reasons” and was replaced by Lenny Harris. The underpowered Nationals were last in the National League in batting average and runs scored at the time.

Page was the Cardinals Major League hitting coach from mid-2001 through 2004, including during their “MV3″ heyday. He left the Cardinals after the 2004 World Series and entered an alcohol treatment facility. Page was replaced by Hal McRae, since dumped in favor of Mark McGwire. Prior to that, Page served as minor league hitting coordinator for the Cardinals and he was the hitting coach at Triple-A Memphis for one season, 1998.

Prior to joining the Cardinals, Page was the Kansas City Royals’ first base coach for the 1995-97 seasons. From 1992-94, he was the hitting instructor and first base coach for Triple-A Tacoma. A member of the Oakland A’s organization at that time, Page worked with Tony La Russa and Walt Jocketty. He played in the major leagues from 1977-84.

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