Before a game in Toronto on Sunday against the Tampa Bay Rays, players and coaches from both teams lined up along the foul lines for a moment of silence as an image of Julia Budzinski was displayed at the Rogers Center.
Budzinski had left a game Saturday against the Rays in the third inning. He was accompanied by manager Charlie Montoyo, who was temporarily replaced by bench coach John Schneider, while bullpen catcher Luis Hurtado took over as first baseman coach.
After the Blue Jays game on Sunday, a 7-3 Rays victory, Montoyo told reporters that “everyone at our club is thinking of Bud.”
“There are good men and great men. He’s a great man,” said the manager. said. “You would hurt for anyone, but he’s a special kind of person.”
“This tragedy reminds us of what is most important in life,” Montoyo added. “As a father and husband myself, my heart breaks for Bud and his family.”
Rays Manager Kevin Cash said ahead of Sunday’s game, his thoughts were with Budzinski and the coach’s family, as well as the entire Blue Jays organization.
“I know yesterday was a difficult day; today is a tough day,” Cash said. “So we are also heartbroken.”
Richmond television station WTVR reported on Sunday that Julia Budzinski had died in a tube accident. The station cited sources who said she fell from her tube into the James River on Saturday.
Julia Budzinski’s high school principal in Henrico County said on Twitter that a celebration of his life would take place on Sunday evening outside the school. Contacted by email, a school spokesperson declined to comment.
The 48-year-old from Severna Park, Maryland, Budzinski is in his fourth season as the Blue Jays’ first baseman coach. He appeared in four major league games in 2003 as an outfielder for the Cincinnati Reds before ending his playing career in 2005.
After spending several years as a real estate agent in Virginia, Budzinski returned to the game in 2014 and began managing minor league teams in the Cleveland organization. Along with the opportunity to coach in the major leagues, Budzinski was drawn to Toronto because of his lifelong friendship with Atkins, a former teammate during their minor league days.
Tigers manager AJ Hinch, another former minor league teammate of Budzinski, expressed his grief on Sunday.
“He’s someone I consider a dear friend,” Hinch Told reporters before a game against the Kansas City Royals. “His daughter is the same age as my daughters. Difficult morning.
The Blue Jays said Budzinski will spend time with his family, including his wife and a surviving daughter and son.