Major League Baseball is mourning the death of one of its standout players. Rheal Cormier, who spent 16 seasons at the sport's top level, has passed away at 53. The Philadelphia Phillies confirmed the news and said that Cormier had faced pancreatic cancer.
"Rheal was one of the most vibrant people I've had the pleasure of knowing," said former teammate Jim Thome said in a statement. "He loved baseball, but he always put his family first. Frenchy was the kind of guy who would do anything for you and I'm lucky to have called him my friend for many years. Our time spent together in Philadelphia as teammates was unforgettable. He will be greatly missed but never forgotten."
We are devastated to learn of the passing of former National Team player and Canadian major leaguer Rhéal Cormier. Our immediate thoughts are with Rhéal’s family and loved ones during this difficult time. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/i1c4nfgtCp— Baseball Canada 🇨🇦⚾️ (@baseballcanada) March 8, 2021
Cormier pitched for the Cardinals (1991-94), Red Sox (1995, 1999-2000), Expos (1996-97), Phillies (2001-06), and Reds (2006-07) during his MLB career. He appeared in 363 games for the Phillies, the second-most in franchise history. The only left-handed pitcher to appear in more games was Tug McGraw (463).
"RIP 'Frenchy' ... Rheal Cormier lost his battle with cancer," said MLB Network analyst Dan Plesac. "One of my all time favorite teammates. Big heart, spent 2yrs sitting next to him in the [Phillies] bullpen (2002-2003)... he made everyone he played with better...keep throwing that 3-2 splitter in heaven. RIP my friend."
In addition to making a mark on MLB, Cormier represented his home country several times on the world's biggest stage. He pitched for Canada in the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul. He did so once again in 2008 in Beijing. The 41-year-old Cormier was the oldest player competing. He competed to represent Canada several times. He was later inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 2012.
RIP to former CCRI pitcher and Red Sox, Phillies pitcher Rheal Cormier who died today from cancerMarch 8, 2021
"We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Canadian Baseball Hall of Famer, Rheal Cormier, after his courageous battle with cancer," the Toronto Blue Jays tweeted on Monday. "Our hearts go out to Rheal’s family and friends during this difficult time [blue heart emoji]."