RICHARD DOWN Richard (Rick) John Down passed away January 5, 2019, at the age of 68. Rick was born in Wyandotte, MI to John and Lillian Down. He attended Southgate High School, was a star student and excelled in baseball and football (just ask and he would tell you). Rick was drafted out of high school in 1969 by the Montreal Expos and later began his baseball coaching career as an assistant coach at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, from 1979 to 1984. Rick moved to Major League Baseball in 1985 as part of the Anaheim Angels organization. He became the manger of the Triple-A Columbus Clippers and set a franchise record with 95 wins in 1992. Rick's Columbus team was in first place in 385 of 391 games while he was manager. Rick went on to become the Major League hitting coach for the New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles, Los Angeles Dodgers, Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees (again) and New York Mets. In Rick's first season, the Yankees' batting average was the highest Yankees average since 1950. Rick holds a special place in baseball history as one of the few individuals hired and fired by George Steinbrenner on three different occasions (they were both very stubborn). Until his dying day, he considered Omar Minaya to be the worst General Manager in all of baseball. Rick loved baseball, the men who played it and the men who coached it. Rick was more than a baseball coach. He was also known by friends and family as a pioneer of the athleisure fashion trend. Rick wore sweat suits to social occasions well before Lululemon told us we could. His Nikes were always spotless and color-coordinated with his hat, and his cotton shirts were freshly pressed. His cologne was bespoke and applied a touch on the heavy side. He drove like a NY cabbie and cursed like one too. He loved chess, sugary cereal, vodka cranberry cocktails and a good weight room (not necessarily in that order and no doubt sometimes at the same time). He also loved his family and friends. Rick is survived by his mother, Lillian; wife, of 40 years, Jill; daughters, Darcy and Cassandra; son, Richard (Boomer); and sister, Pamela Gulyas. There will be a celebration of Rick's life on January 24, 2019 from 6:00-9:00 p.m. at Tap House (5589 W. Charleston Blvd., Las Vegas, NV 89146). In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you make a donation to Little League Baseball and Softball Association (https://www.littleleague.org/who-we-are/making-a-donation/) or Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (https://www.mlb.com/rbi/ways-to-donate), ensuring Rick's love of the game continues in future generations.
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Published in Las Vegas Review-Journal on Jan. 13, 2019.