Ken Caminiti, 1996 NL MVP, Dies at Age 41

Ken Caminiti, 1996 NL MVP, Dies at Age 41

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 RBIs. He estimated half the players in the big leagues were also using them.

Licht said Caminiti hoped to get back into the game, possibly in a position that would allow him to mentor younger players about avoiding the mistakes he made. Caminiti did return to baseball this year, serving as a spring training instructor with San Diego. “He didn’t look good,” Towers said. “I’m not surprised.

What a waste. Caminiti played for the Braves for part of the 2001 season, filling in at both 1st and 3rd base, and was still an all-out ballplayer even though his skills had diminished since his MVP peak. He was pretty clearly a troubled individual off the field, though.

(via Steven Taylor)

Update (10/14): Ken Caminiti Dies of Drug Overdose, Autopsy Shows

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James Joyner
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James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.