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03/13/11 5:07 PM ET

Former big leaguer, coach Page dead at 59

Mitchell Page, a former big league outfielder and hitting coach, passed away Saturday at the age of 59. Page, who served as the Cardinals' hitting coach from 2001-04, died from unknown causes.

A California native, Page was a third-round draftee of the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1973 and was traded to Oakland's organization as part of a nine-player deal two seasons later. The left-handed hitter debuted with the A's in 1977, batting .307 with 21 home runs, 75 RBIs and 42 steals, and finishing second to Eddie Murray in the American League's Rookie of the Year balloting.

Page went on to provide a steady presence in Oakland's lineup over the next few seasons, and he batted .266 with 72 home runs and 259 RBIs in parts of seven seasons with the A's. Page was released by Oakland in 1984 and went back to Pittsburgh as a free agent, batting .333 in limited playing time before he was released again.

After his playing career ended, Page began a second career as a coach. He served as hitting coach for the Triple-A Tacoma Tigers from 1992-94, and he moved up to the big leagues as a first-base coach for the Kansas City Royals in '95. Page later coached in the St. Louis organization and moved up as hitting coach for the parent club in 2001.

"He was a very passionate, caring, knowledgeable coach," said Cardinals manager Tony La Russa on Sunday. "You ask anybody, any of the kids that worked with him. They really loved him because he really cared about them. he was very passionate. He had a lot of knowledge. Could have taken better care of himself.

"He didn't have an easy life. He was a good man, a knowledgeable man, a real good teammate. It's a shame."

Page spent three seasons in that capacity and later served in a similar role for the Washington Nationals. His last coaching job was back with St. Louis, where he worked as a Minor League hitting instructor last Spring Training.

"I saw him during the winter, at the fall league," said Cardinals first-base coach Dave McKay. "He was doing really well. He was feeling great, bought a home, went from the ballpark to working on his home. He was going to church, spending a lot of time at church and doing all the right things. I was really happy for him. He was feeling good. I thought it was great. I saw him probably about four or five times.

"He was a pretty sharp guy. Really good head. I played with him. He was into video, watching what guys were doing. It's just really sad. His life was straightened out, he was heading in the right direction, it seemed like. I was really glad that he was going to church and becoming a Christian."

Spencer Fordin is s reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.