Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 6/25/12

San Diego Padres bullpen coach Darrel Akerfelds, who turned 50 on June 12, lost his courageous 19-month fight

against pancreatic cancer Sunday morning. Akerfelds died at the Cancer Center of America in Phoenix, Ariz.

Padres manager Bud Black notified his team of Akerfelds' death before Sunday's game at Petco Park. There

was a moment of silence before the first pitch of the Mariners-Padres game.

"The San Diego Padres are deeply saddened by the loss of Darrel Akerfelds," said Black. "Ak was an

invaluable member of the Padres coaching staff. He brought a tireless work ethic and passion for baseball

to the ballpark every day. He was a loyal Padre to the end.

"Players and coaches were made better by Ak. He will be sorely missed and what he brought to this

organization will never be forgotten."

Members of the Padres bullpen carried Akerfelds' camouflage No. 48 uniform to the bullpen before the

game and hung it on the fence facing the field. Another uniform was placed on the seat where the popular

and respected coach usually sat during games.

Akerfelds was the senior member of the Padres coaching staff. He was promoted to the Padres on June 11,

2001, after serving as the Padres' Triple-A pitching coach. Even though he was diagnosed with pancreatic

cancer in December 2010, Akerfelds remained the club's bullpen coach throughout the 2011 season while

undergoing aggressive rounds of radiation and chemotherapy treatments.

He was with the Padres throughout spring training and began his 11th full season with the Padres on

Opening Day, although his condition was worsening. He had not been with the club since April 15 in Los

Angeles.

Two pitchers who Akerfelds helped develop in the Padres bullpen got four outs in the Padres' 2-0 win

over Seattle Sunday. Lefty Joe Thatcher got the last out in the seventh in relief of Edinson Volquez and

Luke Gregerson worked a scoreless eighth in front of closer Huston Street.

"It was a little different at the end when I gave the ball to Joe and then to Luke," said Black. "It was

a great but sad day. I couldn't be prouder ... two guys who matured under him. Ak was about the game. No

one loved the game, being in uniform, being on the field more than Ak. He was a fan of the game and the

Padres. ... 2-0 is what this organization and Ak are about about."

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