Don Welke, Padres VP of scouting, dead at 75

SAN DIEGO — San Diego Padres Vice President of Scouting Don Welke died Wednesday night, the team announced Thursday.

Welke, affectionately known as “Coach,” spent more than 50 years in baseball as an amateur scout and special assistant for eight different teams. He was 75.

He joined the Padres in 2014 and had since overseen the development of one of the league’s best minor league systems. Prior to joining the San Diego front office, Welke worked for the Texas Rangers during their two trips to the World Series in 2010 and 2011, and for the Toronto Blue Jays under Hall of Fame General Manager Pat Gillick.

“Don had a tremendous career in baseball, both as a talent evaluator and in the relationships that he built,” Padres Executive Vice President and General Manager A.J. Preller said. “He was a visionary who knew and loved baseball, and he shared that knowledge and passion with me and countless other scouts throughout his five decades in the game. Beyond his accomplishments, Don was a loyal and generous friend. Everyone whose lives he touched were better for having known him.”

Welke died two days before his 76th birthday. An Illinois native, he graduated from Carthage College and coached at Eastern Michigan University and Concordia University. Welke is survived by his three children.