Greece’s baseball team coach dies at 44

NEW YORK (AP) – Rob Derksen, the manager of Greece’s Olympic baseball team and a scout with the Baltimore Orioles, died Wednesday. He was 44. Derksen died in the New York area, the Orioles said. The team did not know the cause of death. Derksen was still under contract with Baltimore while working with the Greek team which was preparing to compete in the Athens Games this summer. A former pitching prospect for Milwaukee, Derksen also managed in the minor league systems of the Brewers and Boston Red Sox. Derksen managed the Australian Olympic team in 1996 and guided the Guam squad that tried for an Olympic spot in 2000. «I talked to him once or twice a week, and every time he was in a different city looking for a Greek baseball player,» said Jack Rhodes, Derksen’s assistant coach. Rhodes, the head coach at North Florida, said he spoke with Derksen on Tuesday night. «He really put a lot of effort into this,» Rhodes said. «He was determined to make this work. He was in New York scouting some independent teams.» Greece received an automatic bid to the Olympic baseball tournament because Athens is hosting the Games. Derksen was from Hales Corners, Wisconsin, and was drafted by the Brewers in 1982. «Rob not only was a good baseball man, he was a great family man and good friend to us all with the Brewers,» Milwaukee spokesman Jon Greenberg said. «I’m going to miss him. This is just stunning news. On behalf of the organization, we’re very deeply saddened by Rob’s sudden passing. We extend our most heartfelt condolences to his family,» he said. After his playing career ended because of an arm injury, he went on to manage and coach in the Brewers’ system at Beloit. He later managed in the Boston organization and then became a Pacific Rim scout for the Orioles.