The Obit For Ken Caminiti

Ex-NL star Caminiti dead at 41

Posted 10/11/2004 1:01 AM Updated 10/11/2004 1:06 AM

NEW YORK (AP) — Ken Caminiti, the 1996 National League MVP who later admitted using steroids during his major league career, died Sunday. He was 41.

Caminiti died of a heart attack in the Bronx, said his agent-lawyer Rick Licht. The city medical examiner's office said an autopsy would be performed Monday, spokeswoman Ellen Borakove said.

"I'm still in shock," San Diego Padres general manager Kevin Towers said. "He was one of my favorite all-time players."

The three-time All-Star third baseman often was in trouble the last few years. His 15-year big league career ended in 2001, five seasons after he led the Padres to a division title and was a unanimous pick for MVP.

Just last Tuesday, he admitted in a Houston court that he violated his probation by testing positive for cocaine last month, and was sentenced to 180 days in jail.

But state District Judge William Harmon gave Caminiti credit for the 189 days he already served in jail and a treatment facility since he was sentenced to three years probation for a cocaine arrest in March 2001.

In May 2002, Caminiti told Sports Illustrated that he used steroids during his MVP season, when he hit a career-high .326 with 40 home runs and 130 RBI. He estimated half the players in the big leagues were also using them.

Caminiti returned to baseball this year as a spring training instructor with San Diego.

"When I saw him in spring training, he didn't look good," Towers said. "I'm not surprised."

"The best way to describe him is that he was a warrior in every sense of the word. I can't tell you how many times I remember him hobbling into the manager's office, barely able to walk, and saying, 'Put me in the lineup.'"

Licht said Caminiti was in New York this past weekend to help a friend, but did not go into detail.

"Man, that's just a tough one. I played with him for eight years," Dodgers outfielder Steve Finley said Sunday night, learning of Caminiti's death after St. Louis eliminated Los Angeles from the playoffs.

"He was a great player, but he got mixed up in the wrong things — taking drugs. It's a sad reminder of how bad drugs are and what they can do to your body. It's a loss all of us will feel."

Caminiti batted .272 with 239 homers and 983 RBI with Houston, San Diego, Texas and Atlanta.

Kenneth G. Caminiti

KENNETH G. CAMINITI, 41, loving father, son, brother, uncle, friend and teammate passed away on Sunday, October 10, 2004. He was born on April 21, 1963 in Hanford, California to Yvonne and Lee Caminiti. Ken is survived by his daughters Kendall, Lindsey and Nicole; mother of his children Nancy; his parents; brother Glenn and wife Debbie; sister Carrie and husband Jasper; grandmother Mary Caminiti; many nieces, nephews, and special friends. Ken was a graduate of Leigh High School in San Jose, California where he excelled in baseball and football. He attended San Jose State University where he was an All-American baseball player. Ken was drafted in 1984 by the Houston Astros. He played his first Major League Baseball game in July 1987. He went on to play 14 years in the majors where he earned the nickname "The Gun." Teams which benefited by his intense play and dedication included the Astros, Padres, Rangers and Braves. Ken was a three-time All-Star, three-time Gold Glove third baseman and was the 1996 unanimous National League MVP. Ken was highly regarded by those who played with him as the "ultimate teammate." He also had a passion for outdoor sports including hunting, fishing and cars. Above all, Ken adored his three beautiful daughters and Nancy. Those who knew him loved him for his HEART OF GOLD. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to The Right Step Foundation, 3709 Montrose, Houston, Texas 77006.
Published in the Houston Chronicle on 10/13/2004.