BY GALEN CAMPBELL
Former Boston Red Sox left-hander Rheal Cormier died Monday at the age of 53 from pancreatic cancer. Cormier was a key fixture on a couple of playoff teams coming out of the bullpen for Boston.
Rheal was a native of Moncton, New Brunswick in Canada. During his playing days, he was known by many during his 16-year career as “Frenchy” and also played for Philadelphia, St. Louis, Cincinnati, and Montreal franchises.
Rheal Cormier was best known for his six seasons in Philadelphia, where he made over 350 appearances in relief, but his best teams came as a Red Sox. Acquired from the Cardinals as part of an early-season trade that brought outfielder Mark Whiten to Boston in 1995, Cormier went 7-5 with a 4.07 ERA, joining former Red Sox teammate Tim Wakefield and giving the staff an unexpected boost as Boston shockingly won the AL East title before being swept by the Cleveland Indians in the division series.
He rejoined Boston as a free agent in 1999, making 124 appearances over two seasons and pitching 7 ⅔ scoreless innings in six playoff outings against the Indians and Yankees.
Cormier finished up his 16-year career representing his country (Canada) in 2008 at the age of 41 in the Beijing Olympics.
Former teammate Jim Thome told MLB.com, “Rheal was one of the most vibrant people I’ve had the pleasure of knowing.” He continued, “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.”