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MLB

Blue Jays first base coach Mark Budzinski, a former Severna Park standout, leaves team following daughter’s death

Toronto Blue Jays first base coach Mark Budzinski, who grew up in Severna Park, will be away from the team after his 17-year-old daughter died in a boating accident in Virginia over the weekend, authorities said Monday

Julia Budzinski was one of two girls who fell off a tube being pulled behind a boat on the James River in Richmond on Saturday, Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources spokesperson Paige Pearson said.

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As the boat operator returned to get the girls out of the water, the boat hit a wave, causing it to be pushed on top of Budzinski and striking her with the propeller, Pearson said. The boat driver and the operator of another passing boat jumped into the water to try to rescue Budzinski, who was pronounced dead at a hospital.

Pearson said no foul play is suspected and alcohol was not a factor. “It was a terrible accident,” she said.

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As news of the accident spread, a vigil was held Sunday night at Glen Allen High School, where Budzinski was a rising senior and played soccer and other sports.

“It was a very happy, fun last day on Earth for her,” her mother, Monica Budzinski, said at the vigil. “She was happy, laughing, having a good time and that’s the way I’m going to remember her.”

Mark Budzinski left the Blue Jays in the third inning of the second game of the team’s doubleheader against the Rays on Saturday after learning of his daughter’s death.

“The Budzinskis have been part of our Blue Jays family over the last four seasons,” general manager Ross Atkins said in a statement Sunday. “This devastating loss is felt by our entire organization and we grieve alongside Bud and his family. I have known Bud for more than 25 years and have always admired his commitment as a dad and husband first. He is loved and well-respected by our entire clubhouse and holds a special place in all our hearts.”

The Blue Jays and Tampa Bay Rays lined up along the foul lines before first pitch Sunday for a moment of silence. Rays manager Kevin Cash said his team was “heartbroken.”

Budzinski and manager Charlie Montoyo left the dugout in the third inning of the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader against Tampa Bay. The Blue Jays’ clubhouse was closed after the 11-5 loss.

“My heart breaks for Bud,” Toronto manager Charlie Montoyo said after the game. “There’s good men and great men. He’s a great man. He’s a special kind of person. His family is great. The only thing I can share about what happened is that he left a note for the team. He did this while going through a tragedy, and that tells you everything about him.”

Budzinski played at Severna Park High under coach Jim Pitt and American Legion ball for Severna Park Post 175 and coach Jim McCandless. He went on to star at the University of Richmond and was named first team All-Atlantic 10 Conference in 1995.

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Budzinski was selected by the Cleveland Indians in the 21st round of the 1995 MLB draft and spent seven seasons in the minor leagues with that organization. He played four other seasons with minor league affiliates of the Chicago White Sox, Milwaukee Brewers and Philadelphia Phillies before retiring in 2005.

Budzinski spent six days and played four games in the major leagues with the Cincinnati Reds in 2003, going 0-for-7 at the plate before being demoted to Triple-A.

After initially returning home to Henrico County, Virginia, and working as a real estate agent, Budzinski returned to baseball as a minor league manager with the Cleveland organization. He was promoted to the major league staff in 2017 before Toronto hired him to be its first base coach in 2018.

The 48-year-old Budzinski and his wife are the parents of two other children — Josh and Lily.

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Capital Gazette reporter Bill Wagner contributed to this article.


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