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Ken Caminiti
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'IN MEMORY': November 2004

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Houston Astros 1987-94: After earning All American honors at San Jose State, Caminiti was selected by the Houston Astros in the 3rd round of the 1984 draft.  He made his major league debut on July 16, 1987, but didn’t become a regular until 1989.  During his first stint with the Astros, the California native hit over 13 homeruns just once (18 in 1994), and appeared in one All Star Game (1994).  He was dealt to San Diego in 12 player deal in December 1994.

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San Diego Padres 1995-98:  Caminiti had a break out season in 1995, hitting .302 with 26 homers and 94 RBI and winning his first Gold Glove, but more was still to come.  In 1996, a bulked up Caminiti led the Padres to a NL Western division title, setting career highs with a .326 average, 40 homeruns, and 130 RBI.  On the heels of that performance, he took home NL MVP honors and a second Gold Glove.  Caminiti followed up that career year with a .290/26 HR/90 RBI performance, but was limited to 137 games.  In 1998, the slugger hit just .252, but still managed to hit 29 homers as the Padres advanced to the World Series for only the second time ever (1984).  A free agent following the season, Caminiti returned to Houston, inking a two year deal with the Astros.

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Houston Astros 1999-2000:  The former MVP’s return to Houston was less than triumphant, as he played in just 137 games over two seasons while battling health and chemical dependency issues.  Following the 2000 season, Caminiti was granted free agency and signed with Texas in December.

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Texas Rangers 2001:  Caminiti’s career continued its downward spiral in Texas, as he hit just .232 in 54 games before being released on July 2.  He wasn’t out of chances quite yet however, the Atlanta Braves snapped him up off the waiver wire three days later.

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Atlanta Braves 2001:  The NL East champs were Caminiti’s final big league stop.  In 64 games with the Braves he hit only .222.

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Postscript 2002-04:  Sadly, Caminiti’s life went from bad to worse when his playing days ended.  In November 2001, he was arrested in Houston for cocaine possession and sentenced to three years probation.  Months later, he violated his probation by testing positive for drugs and spent 4 months in jail.  During the summer of 2002, Caminiti admitted to Sports Illustrated that he regularly used steroids during his career, including his 1996 MVP season.  He goes onto to tell the magazine that up to half of the players in MLB use steroids.  On October 5, 2004, the three-time All Star admitted to testing positive for cocaine that September and is given a suspended jail sentence.  Just five days later, Kenneth Gene Caminiti died of an apparent drug overdose.  He was just 41 years old.

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Caminiti's stats @ Baseball-Almanac.com

Caminiti's stats @ Baseball-Reference.com

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