Darrel Akerfelds fought cancer hard, but ultimately it was a battle he could not win. Akerfelds, the longtime bullpen coach of the San Diego Padres passed away from pancreatic cancer. He was 50.
Akerfelds was diagnosed with the terrible disease 19 months ago, but he did not let it slow him down. He coached in 148 games last year, and made an appearance in Spring Training.
Akerfelds helped the Padres develop relievers Heath Bell, Mike Adams, and Luke Gregerson. The Padres have frequently had strong relief pitching in Akerfeld’s tenure, but he never got the credit in the media. The relievers honored Akerfelds by hanging his jersey up in the bullpen, just beyond the left-field fence.
Jake Peavy took to his Twitter account, and had this to say about Akerfelds: “He was an amazing man, mentor, a friend that stuck by me closer than a brother.”
Akerfelds also played five seasons in the big leagues, and was the seventh overall pick of the Seattle Mariners in the 1983 draft. His best season came in 1990, when he posted a 3.77 ERA in 71 games for the Phillies.
He joined the Padres in 1997 as a minor league coach, and eventually became the Padres bullpen coach in 2001.
Cancer is a terrible disease, and Akerfelds’ fight was nothing short of inspirational. He fought through the pain and sickness to keep coaching. He obviously made a huge impact on the team and the organization. RIP Darrel.