October 12, 2004 by

Ken Caminiti

60 comments

Categories: Sports

kcaminiti.jpgKenneth Gene Caminiti was an outstanding third baseman. The three-time All-Star played for several major league baseball teams and was named the National League’s Most Valuable Player in 1996. But five years later, his stellar athletic career ended in scandal.

The Hanford, Calif., native played baseball at San Jose State and signed with the Houston Astros in 1987. Caminiti was traded to the San Diego Padres in 1995 and helped that team reach the 1998 World Series. He returned to Houston for two seasons then finished his career with the Texas Rangers and the Atlanta Braves. Although he was frequently plagued with injuries, the third baseman and switch-hitter earned three Gold Gloves for fielding excellence and an ESPY for Outstanding Baseball Performer.

The Braves dropped Caminiti in 2001. Eight days after being cut, he was arrested in Houston and charged with cocaine possession. Caminiti pleaded guilty in 2002 and received three years probation. That same year, he admitted to Sports Illustrated that he had used illegal anabolic steroids while playing professional baseball. Caminiti also claimed that at least 50 percent of major league players were using the artificial bodybuilding drugs.

Last Tuesday, a Houston judge revoked Caminiti’s probation for failing his fourth drug test. The court sentenced him to 180 days in jail; however, he was given credit for time served and released.

Caminiti died on Oct. 10 of a massive heart attack. He was 41.

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60 Responses to Ken Caminiti

  1. Lynda

    It is indeed a sad thing to read about the death of another sport’s hero. Sadder yet that his death had to come from drug abuse. I sincerely hope that his family and friends reach out to others who may share a similar fate. I wish that he could have beaten his problem once and for all, but I guess in the end it beat him. Sorry to see it happen like this.

  2. Lesley

    I went to just about every game in San Diego in 1996. If I wasn’t there I watched on TV. When I think of Ken I remember the electricity that flowed through the park that year. I remember that in 96 the Padres were all a very close family. We had so many wonderful players but, Cami truly stood apart. I still keep his rookie card in my wallet. He will truly be missed by so many.

  3. Diana

    I’m still so sad about his death. When I look at his picture, I just want to cry. I have this awful feeling that maybe someone could have reached him. I wish his teammates didn’t shun him in recent years. Maybe they could have helped. I’m sure his family did all they could. It’s such a huge loss. I don’t even feel like watching baseball anymore. It just doesn’t seem the same knowing that he’s gone.

  4. Craig Rice

    WOW SUCH A TRAGITY IT STILL IS HARD TO BELIEVE ONE MINUTE YOUR ARE HERE AND THE NEXT YOU ARE IN HEAVEN ,GODS PLACE KNOWING YOU ARE KICKING THOSE ASTROS IN THE BUTT TO WIN NATIONAL LEAGUE PENNIT MY FALLEN BROTHER.SERIES NOW STANDS 3 GAMES HOUSTON ,2 GAMES ST. LOUIS, MOST WOULD OF THOUGHT THAT ST. LOUIS WOULD SWEEP THE SERIES BUT WE ALL KNOW WHY HOUSTON HAS COME BACK THE LAST 3 GAMES TO TAKE LEAD OF THE SERIES AND WILL CONTINUE TO GO TO THE WORLD SERIES WITH KEN COACHING FROM ABOVE ALL.SORRY IT HAD TO HAPPEN TO SUCH A GREAT SPORTS HERO TO SO MANY PEOPLE, MY DEEPEST CONDOLENCES TO FRIENDS AND FAMILY.KEN SEE YOU WHEN WE REACH THAT GREAT PLACE IN PLACE ABOVE ALL ,MAKE SURE I HAVE A SPOT ON YOUR TEAM WHEN I REACH THAT SPECIAL PLACE MY BROTHER AND I WILL NOT EVER FORGET ABOUT YOU TILL WE MEET AGAIN SINCERELY, CRAIG RICE FAMILY OF NEW YORK YANKEES FIRST BASEMAN JASON GIAMBI

  5. Nancy

    My prayers go out to him and his family. May he rest in peace relieved of all the pain he played with through his long, wonderful career in baseball. A childhood hero for his dedication to the game and his desire to play even despite the odds against him, he will never be forgotten.
    My condolences to the Houston Astros, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Diego Padres, and Atlanta Braves organizations and to all those lives that he touched throughout his life.

  6. Fred

    I hope everyone can take Ken’s death as an example of the dangers of drugs. Save a spot up there for me, Ken, i can’t wait to meet you.

  7. Kim

    I want everyone to know what a wonderful person Ken really was. He was a big teddybear, and would give someone the shirt off his back if they needed it. He would never ask for anyrhing in return. I want to send our love and a prayer to his wife and his three daughters. We will miss you Ken.
    The Ethington and Duncan Family

  8. A.D.

    An asolute tragedy to happen to such a talented and gifted man. We all have our “demons” and we all should reach out and let others help us cope with them. My heart goes out to his family… especially his wife and kids. May he rest in peace and find final peace and freedom from such a terrible addiction.
    May this be a lesson to all who either suffer from such an addiction or know someone who does. Never give up in the fight against these things. I am thankful that his family did all they could to help. May they rest every night knowing this. They did their job! They did everything they could!…. True love is when we go to bat and stand by the ones we love no matter what… Never give up on the ones you love!!!

  9. ANNA

    i’M SORRY I NEVER HAD THE CHANCE TO MEET KEN.bUT I CLEANED THE HOUSE HE LIVED IN,AND I WANTED SO MUCH TO MEET HIM,BUT I NEVER HAD A CHANCE,THE DAY I CLEANED HIS HOUSE, HIS THINGS WERE BEING MOVED IN AND I HAD HOPED JUST MAYBE HE WOULD COME HOME BEFORE I LEAVE,BUT IT DID NOT HAPPEN.HE CALLED THE PEOPLE IN CHARGE ,TO SAY HE WOULD BE LATE—– MAY YOU REST IN PEACE. ANNA

  10. matt

    ken had the best arm of any third basemen that i have ever seen. he was my idol gowing up. when i made a great play in college we would always say that is a caminti play.he will be missed. just remember that all people have problems, and just because he wasn’t perfect in his personal life, doesn’t mean that he wasn’t a great baseball player and my hero.

  11. Brent Braesh

    Ken was a dear friend of mine who even in his most trying times would give all he has to help. He played ball like he lived life, hard and for the moment. Ken is and always will be the BEST player in baseball to me. He had the heart of a champion and honoring him is what I will do for the rest of my life. He will be in my thoughts every single day.

  12. Patti

    To those of you who knew him as a sports legend, let his memory live on !! Keep him in your hearts. To those who knew him as Kenny, the kid from San Jose, remember who he was, his giving heart, his soft voice, his instant charm. He was a beautiful man, even as a teen. I was lucky enough to know him in high school, a couple years behind him, but even then he was so grounded and easy to be around. He was a very special man, who must have carried his pain in silence. So sad to be so troubled inside. My heart goes out to Nancy and his girls. Everyone knows you are all the real loves of his life. To his family, my deepest sympathy, but he will always be with you! And to you Kenny, if you are listening, hit one outta the park, God’s the ump and there are no rules!!
    You will be so missed !!!

  13. Chip

    I remember the time I saw him throw out a guy at 1st base while laying on his back so it seemed anyway. It was the most immpossible play I had ever seen in baseball even more remarkable than any THE WIZARD(Ozzie Smith) play I have seen steroids didnt do that. Ken Caminiti made me a basball fan all over again and I will show his plays to my son when he gets older.
    He should have been remembered more for his fielding if that is possible.

  14. Erik

    I remember Caminiti’s rookie year….his first game, he hit a triple. Best third sacker on the Stros since Doug Rader. He was probably even better defensively. I became fearful for him after his dismissal from baseball, an arena which gave him structure….and good friends, Bagwell, Biggio, Casey Candaele. I just hope he trusted in Christ prior to his untimely death. Without exception, my fondest memories of the Astrodome were of Glenn Davis and Ken Caminiti.

  15. Alan Parrish

    Kenneth Gene Caminiti… an outstanding third baseman who had one human flaw: he depended on chemicals for a release from the stress of his life. I will never forget when Ken held down third base for my Braves. Actually, I modeled my current goatee after his. God Bless Ken and his family. I know many around me who abuse drugs; I am so sorry this happened to Ken. Ken Caminiti: a baseball legend forever.

  16. blair anderon

    I really loved watching Ken play the game. He was a warrior on the field. As a guy who is also battling a drug addiction I see this as a scary, story. I want to wish the family peace. Know that he will go down in my mind as the best third basemen to stop the hot corner in a long time.

  17. Darian Thomas

    I was lucky enough to move to San Diego right at the time the Padres were making their playoff run…the city was very exciting at the time and the main man behind it all was this one guy, tough, burly looking guy who used to play for the Astros and he could hit alright, 40 plus homers that year. I had to love this guy and I’m not even a Padres fan, but I was after watching Ken play.
    Cammy as they called him rocked San Diego! He owned this city…he was a baseball god and I am sure he is looking down now, proud of his Astros and the run they made in the playoffs this year, I like to think that most of his old teammates played in his honor…he also would be very proud of this Red Sox team, Cammy was a Red Sox player, he had that true grit and would have fit in well with this team, he was motley and they are a motley bunch who play with a lot of balls…no pun intended…
    I hope that Cammy will be remembered for all of the great things he did in his career and love he brought to so many baseball fans, not for a guy who died way to young from doing drugs…he was a party guy and he lived his life his way, regardless of the way he went out…he is still a hero in my eyes and always will be !
    Peace to you Ken…and much love to your family and daughters.
    Darian Thomas
    A SF Giants Fan
    San Diego, CA

  18. CAMFAN

    The first time I saw Ken play ball was for San Diego in the playoffs. I’m not sure what it was, but I was drawn to him. I followed his career from that point on. I was devastated when I heard he had died. I never had the honor of meeting him, but he still has a special place in my heart. He will be missed tremendously! Love you Cammy, rest in peace.

  19. Michael Volzke

    Ken Caminiti was alot of things to alot of different people. Baseball is America’s Game and
    Cammy was one of the best to play the game. We all
    have fond memories about Cammy. I went thru a very
    ugly custody case and collecting items of Cammys kept me from dwelling of losing my kids 24/7. We
    went to the same high school. We all have personal
    demons, but Cammys turn out to be bigger then him.
    We’ll all hold our heads high for knowing such a
    outstanding person. God bless your family and we
    will keep you and your family in our prayers. Save
    me a seat in Heavens stadium, so I can watch you play.

  20. T.J.

    i just wanted to give my condolences to ken caminiti’s family. i will never forget him when he played for the s.d. padres. he was awesome and he had power. it is so sad that he is gone but you know what, i think he is in a better place.
    sincerely, t.j. las vegas

  21. Jim Jimson

    As a baseball player and huge fan myself, I remember Ken in the early days as an Astro. Later in life I too became as he did, obsessed with altered states. I only saw him once in person, that was in state jail. To watch him obey the orders barked down to him, made me want to reach up and choke the life out of the Jailer’s lungs. To incarcerate someone for an addiction such as ours, only makes one want to Retaliate and do more of the same just to say I told you so. Ken is free and I am not. Good for Ken. If I could place the blame for Ken’s death, I would put it on our judicial system. See you Soon. You will do no more time. I wish I could say the same.
    Puff

  22. nicole pollitt

    THIS IS A GOOD EXAMPLE OF HOW HARD IT IS FOR KIDS TODAY TO HAVE SPORTS HEROES;LOOK HOW EVERYONE LOOKED UP TO MICKEY MANTLE.KIDS NEED TO KNOW THERE NOT SUPER HEROES;ITS A SHAME ATHLETES TO HAVE THE KIND OF MONEY THEY HAVE AND FOR STUFF LIKE THIS TO HAPPEN.

  23. charlie

    ken was a great friend to me , i used to talk him thru some serious states of depression , he would come over and watch james bond movies i have helped him when he was sick, i guess i was just afraid to say to much to him , ihave seen him push people away for it . i think he felt to free when released. he wasnt ready to go i think his supposed closest friends could have done alot more to help they werent helping at all i was around and think alot of them took advantage of him i wish the best for nancy and the girls i never got to meet them but he would go on thursdays to spend time with them i bet they miss him . god bless you ken and all of your family…

  24. Big Cam Fan

    RIP Cammy!
    To his kids I say your dad was a hero, always remember that.
    All middle age men (and women) that can’t let go of the party days need to be careful. Our heart can’t handle the abuse like when we were in our twenties.
    Peace!
    Darin

  25. Dawn

    I met Cami for the 1st time in 1987 at a Columbus Astros game. I was 11 years old. I remember when he got called up to the big leagues. He was the NL player of the week. I met him again at Spring Training in 1999. He signed MVP posters for me and my sister. That was the greatest baseball day. I told him how I had followed his career since double A and that he was my favorite player ever. He didn’t seem truly convinced until he saw how I was shaking when I tried to take a picture of him with my sister. He laughed and said- Wow, she really is nervous. Two days later he signed 8 x 10’s of those pictures. He was so nice to us and it made me feel good about who my baseball hero was. I prayed about his addictions, his marriage and his daughters. I still have a hard time believing that he is gone. I thank the Padres for honoring him- I sure wish he was there coaching this year. I though that would help get him straight. However, God has a purpose behind all that He does. My prayers continue for his family. Cami will always be my baseball hero- for the way he played the game. His unbelievable plays at 3rd base stirred an interest in baseball in me as a young girl. That interest has endured 18 years. And even though the game will never be the same without him, he has touched my life forever by giving me a love of the game. I miss Cami.
    Dawn- an unconditional Cami fan

  26. Lynda

    I saw him many times as a San Diego Padre. I will always remember him taking a ride with the “Angles” The Blue Angels. They played his experience at a game. He looked so alive and happy. i am so sorry for the loss of his family. Especially his daughters. His Love will live on in them. Stay strong.
    Lynda- We will never forget

  27. JKL_NYC

    daym, Its sad how drugs can ruin a persons life. Im posting here because I JUST found out that Ken Caminiti passed away a year ago now. Its very sad. I met Ken Caminiti in a rehab in NYC 2002. He was my roommate. When I met him i didnt know who he was. Then he told me. I have his baseball card too. VEry COOL guy. He told me he used to love hunting. He had many different fields he was into (stock cars). His wife and kids. Well at least we know hes in a better place now STRESS FREE. God bless his family.

  28. rogelio

    he was a great third baseman. He is the kind of player you want on your team. a leader, offensive, defensive, star quality without the ego. i got sad when i heard the news about his death. i feel bad for his family and i wish them the best.

  29. sonia

    I was a big fan of cammy. thank you San Diego Padres for giving that beautiful tribute to our best third baseman there will ever be. God bless his family and San Diego Padres let go the world series for cammy this year 2005

  30. Scott Bridgeforth

    In 1997 I worked security for the Aloha stadium in Hawaii when Padres played the Cardinals.I was assigned to check the team into the clubhouse and I still remember the true confidence with which Ken carried himself amoung his peers.

  31. matt villegas

    I still find it hard to believe that Cami is gone, it seems as though he should and still could be seen on tv or at Petco Park (which he helped build).I have met Ken once and the guy was as real as you could ask for.I too havehad my personal battles and hold Cami’s experiences very close as they help me too overcome them,so in that aspect he continues to live through many of us.So many people wanted to meet or be friends with Cami now his spirit may be with all who allow it to be.
    Peace

  32. Maria

    Ken is been hard to accept n deal with your death. Cant believe your gone. But one day we will all be togethter again. Rest in peace.

  33. Chris

    I was unaware of Ken’s death. I was in iraq when he died. I did not find out until today that he was gone. Such a great player. I remember watching him make terrific plays at third and hitting the ball for miles. Condolences to Ken’s family and friends.

  34. Sydney

    I remember back in 2000 I met this woman in Boston who was a friend of Ken from San Jose; she had nothing but great things to say about him. He seemed like a great guy. I asked her a million questions about him because I loved to watch him play, what a third baseman, what a hitter, MVP, a great switch hitter, his life ended way too soon; Ken RIP and the best for your daughters and the rest of his family. God bless.

  35. cesar guzman

    you will make eny team on earth that alone makes you an all -start in heavens team because i know that there most be baseball after life and you just left because you want to tryout for the team;god bless you always . although i never met you baseball is our way of becaming family forever thankyou for the memories keep playing heart and just get on base to let ruth drive you in. love. always : a baseball player. (i
    ‘ll meet you one day)

  36. Victor

    People have forgotten his first game as a major leaguer with the Astros. He was brought up from AA and made two spectacular plays at third AND had a multi-hit game include a triple off the top of the wall in extra innings. He played with heart for the team and the fans. His reasons for steroid use was not for personal gain or statistics, but to get the job done for the people who depended upon him to be the best.

  37. Bryan Brown

    Ken was my absolute favorite player as a kid. He was a warrior. His presense alone often kept teams from bunting, especially for a hit. I remember in the ’98 playoffs, he had two bad knees, a busted shoulder, and a look in his eyes like he had just chased a lion away from its cubs. Un-stoppable!
    If the higher authorities were as concerned about the players and the integrity of the game as they are acting now, they would have taken a serious look at what Ken tried to explain years before. If they had addressed this issue from a players perspective, rather than waited until the press made it a Public Relations nightmare, they might have found themselves in a more desireable situation.
    Performance enhancing substances have been a part of the game since it began. If faced with the decision of taking a drug to make the team, be it ‘roids, greenies, ephederine, andro, caffeine, or Viagra (maybe that was what Palmeiro’s deal was), and watching someone less talented JUICE past you for the last spot, what would you do? Tattle on them? Tattle on everyone? Would that make the situation better?
    Ken and Jose Canseco both knew what would happen if they dispersed their privaleged information, self-incriminating or not. Ken as an attempt to ALERT the MLB of a serious problem to prevent his tragedy from reoccuring. Canseco had other, self-enRICHing intentions only enabled by the media’s craving for a scandal.
    If the MLB had listened to him nearly a decade ago, before the problem were scratched to the surface, Caminiti would be regarded as a hero speaking the voice of expeirience, rather than a drug user.
    Ken was a WARRIOR. He was an MVP. He should not be scapegoated for attempting to address a problem that has always been there.
    B.B.
    BBGunn44@aol.com

  38. Terry Croker

    I was shocked to here of his death. My heart goes out to his family, and especially his brother Glenn. Best wishes for your family. My family misses all of you. Glenn, tell your boys hello from the Croker family. God Bless.

  39. Jackie Amrikhas

    I knew Glen and Ken from elementary school at Mirassou and from living on the same neighborhood on zinnia lane in san jose.
    I went to leigh high as well as san jose state while ken was there.
    I remember what a joy it was to have them at my schools and in my neighborhood because they brought the game of baseball to all of us.
    Ken and Glen were both obsessed with baseball and we all were involved in their passion.
    As a girl, they never left me out of the game and were very sweet boys.
    When I heard of Ken’s death it was very sad to me. I just wanted to give my condolensces to the family and will never forget the fact that Ken and Glen brought the joy of baseball to my life.
    My best to the family.
    Jacqueline Amrikhas
    Sausalito, CA.

  40. Dayna

    Mr. Caminiti,

    You are still dearly missed by your family, friends, and fans. We’re all imperfect human beings. You struggled tremendously with your demons.

    God Bless The Best Third Baseman Ever!!!!

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