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Former Yankees hitting coach Rick Down dies at 68

Hitting coach Rick Down

TAMPA, FL - FEBRUARY 21: Hitting coach Rick Down #56 of the New York Yankees poses for a portrait during the Yankees’ spring training Media Day on February 21, 2003 at Legends Field in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

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Rick Down, who was the hitting coach for the New York Yankees and several other clubs, has passed away at the age of 68. He died at his home following a long illness.

Down served two stints as the Yankees hitting coach, from 1993-95 and then again from 2002-03. He held the same job with the Dodgers, Red Sox, Orioles and Mets over the years. He was likewise a good minor league manager, leading the Triple-A Columbus Clippers -- then a Yankees affiliate -- to three consecutive division titles from 1990-92 and a franchise-record 95 wins in 1992. He would, unfortunately, be bypassed for major league managerial jobs, though he did manage in Winter League ball many times and served as an advanced scout and hitting coordinator.

Down never made the big leagues as a player, but a lot of that had to do with the fact that he was an outfielder in the Montreal Expos system when that organization was just loaded with outfielders, including Andre Dawson, Ellis Valentine, Warren Cromartie and Jerry White. He retired as a player in his late 20s before embarking on his long and successful coaching career.

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