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Former Reds Pitching Coach Vern Rugle has Passed Away


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CINCINNATI -- Former Reds pitching coach Vern Ruhle, who missed the 2006 season while being treated for cancer, lost his battle and died on Saturday night.

Ruhle was five days shy of his 56th birthday. The former Major League pitcher passed away at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston of complications from a donor stem cell transplant for the treatment of multiple myeloma.


Funeral arrangements are incomplete. Ruhle is survived by his wife, Sue, daughter, Rebecca, and son, Kenny.


"The baseball and Cincinnati Reds families mourn the loss of an excellent coach, wonderful husband and loving father," the club said in a statement. "In his 35 years in professional and collegiate baseball, Vern touched many people inside and outside the game. We are privileged to have been a part of his life. He will be missed."


Ruhle pitched for the Tigers, Astros, Indians and Angels from 1974-86 and was 67-88 with a 3.73 ERA. From 1997-2003, he was a pitching coach for the Astros, Phillies and Mets, and he joined the Reds organization in 2004 as a pitching coach with rookie level Billings. Ruhle was promoted to Minor League pitching coordinator before the 2005 season, and he became the Reds' big-league pitching coach when Don Gullett was dismissed that June.


For the 2007 season, Ruhle had been reassigned to work as the organization's pitching rehabilitation coordinator at its Minor League complex in Sarasota, Fla.


Last February, doctors discovered Ruhle had cancer after he underwent his annual physical at the start of Spring Training. He spent the summer splitting time between his home in Sarasota and the hospital in Houston, while bullpen coach Tom Hume assumed pitching coach duties on an interim basis.


In August, Ruhle was able to rejoin the club for some home games after he was informed by doctors during a checkup that he was showing improvement.


"It's been a fun day," Ruhle said on Aug. 18 at Great American Ball Park. "There's been a lot of smiles and visiting with the different players. A few last year and some even this year that have known about what I've gone through have given big hugs and [said], 'Great to see you' and so on."


While spending three months confined to his hospital room for treatment, it was baseball that helped keep Ruhle upbeat. He monitored games over the Internet and on television, and he regularly received phone calls and e-mails from the coaching staff, especially Hume.


"[baseball] was something that really helped me throughout the summer in the healing process," Ruhle said. "I always had something to talk about that was very neutral in the eyes of the doctors, the nurses and the visitors. We could always talk about something other than my medical aspect of what's going on and what was and wasn't working."



Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

R.I.P Verhn. I know your in a better place. :(

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