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Friday, January 15, 2016

Jack Krol, Dream Lived - 26

Originally published July 21, 2014
Jack Krol had several years managing in the minors under his belt by 1969 and there was no other job the former player would rather have had, he told The St. Petersburg Evening Independent that August.

"I miss playing quite a bit," Krol told The Evening Independent, "but managing is a baseball man's dream when his playing days are over, and I'm happy to be here."

By that point, Krol had 15 years in the game, all spent as a player or manager in the minors. He went on to another 25 years in the game, getting a decade in the majors as a coach, and briefly, as a manager.

By the early 1990s, Krol had taken part in many aspects of the game. One of those aspects was chewing tobacco. He was also diagnosed with tongue cancer, a cancer he attributed to chewing tobacco use. It was also a cancer that would take his life.

Krol's career in baseball began in 1954, signed by the Cardinals out of his native North Carolina.

He started at Class D Ardmore, Okla., hitting .280. He made class C Fresno in 1956 and class A York in 1958. In 1960, he got to the highest point he would get as a player, AA at Memphis. He played a total of three seasons at AA.

Krol's last season with significant playing time came in 1965 at single-A Burlington. He then started his managerial and coaching career.

Krol started at single-A Rock Hill. In 1969, he was at single-A St. Petersburg. He managed at AA Arkansas in 1971 and then AAA Tulsa in 1972.

by 1977, Krol was in the majors, serving as the Cardinals third base coach. In mid-1978, Krol was named interim manager after the previous manager was fired.

Upon taking the temporary helm late that April, Krol looked forward.

"The season starts tomorrow," Krol told The Associated Press. "We've got the players to do the job, we've got to regroup."

Krol got another brief shot at managing in the majors in 1980, his final year as a Cardinals base coach. He then moved to the Padres for 1981. He stayed there for five seasons, serving as either a base coach or hitting coach.

Krol returned to the minors as manager at AAA Las Vegas in 1987. He then managed single-A Charleston. For 1992, he returned to the Cardinals as manager at AAA Louisville. He managed there for two seasons.

In June 1993, baseball banned players from using chewing tobacco at minor league parks. By that point, Krol was already set for a surgery on his tongue.

"I don't mind being an example for my players," Krol told Knight-Ridder Newspapers. "but this is not the way I wanted to do it. There's no doubt in my mind it was the dipping and chewing that did it."

By the next May, Krol was gone, the cancer taking his life. He was 57.

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