Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Young Superstars #29 - Ken Caminiti

Caminiti is wearing a home jersey here, but there's what looks like a whole lot of white caps in the crowd behind him. They could be very blurry Astros logos though, but they almost look like the old Blue Jays caps that had a white panel on the front.

I'm curious where this picture was taken. I don't think it's in the Astrodome because you can see what looks like the reflection of the stadium, a light standard and the sky in his helmet.

Spring training maybe?

Who outside of Houston paid much attention to Ken Caminiti before 1994? Probably not a whole lot of people.

He started his career in Houston in 1987 but didn't really stick until 1989. His production at the plate was far from outstanding, hitting above .283 only twice in his first tour of duty with the Astros. His highest homerun mark was 18 in 1994. A far cry from the numbers he'd put up a few years later, but the Astrodome was never known as a hitter's park.

He saw a remarkable upswing in production and power, though, once he moved to San Diego. His RBI totals in San Diego were considerably higher than in Houston, a byproduct of hitting in a batting order that also contains Tony Gwynn.

Caminiti was a three time Gold Glover and All Star and won the NL MVP (100% of first place votes) after putting up great numbers in 1996.

After four years with the Padres, Caminiti went back to Houston before splitting the 2001 season with Texas and Atlanta.

In 2002, Sports Illustrated informed us that Caminiti admitted to using steroids during his 1996 MVP season. His admission was the first time an MLB player came forward and said "yes I did." He had also previously admitted to struggling with drugs and alcohol throughout his career.

Caminiti suffered from coronary artery disease and an enlarged heart, only made worse by his drug problems. He died on October 10, 2004 at the age of 41. The official cause of death was a heart attack, made worse by the high levels of cocaine and opiates found in his system.

This is the first player we've seen who has died since the printing of this set.

Ken Caminiti's career statistics


Jeffrey Wolfe said...

Actually the jerseys the Astros wore in the late 80's and early 90's were all white. The home jerseys were a pure white and the road jerseys were sort of a cream colored off-white.