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Kenneth Gene Caminiti (April 21, 1963 – October 10, 2004) was an Americanmarker third baseman in Major League Baseball and the 1996 National League Most Valuable Player. He was born in Hanford, Californiamarker, and attended San Jose State Universitymarker. He died of a drug overdose-induced heart attack on October 10, 2004.

High school years

Caminiti attended Leigh High School in San Jose, California and played football and baseball. In football, he was invited to many all-star games after his senior football season.

Baseball career

Minor leagues

Caminiti played professional baseball for 15 seasons, beginning with the Osceola Astros of the Single-A Florida State League in . He also played third base for the Indios de Mayagüez along with Wally Joyner in the Puerto Rico Winter League. He earned a call-up to the Double-A Columbus Astros in 1987.

Major leagues

He made his major league debut at age 25 with the Houston Astros on July 16, 1987. In , Caminiti returned to the minor leagues, playing with the Triple-A Tucson Toros of the Pacific Coast League, before he was called up to stay late in the season.

After 6 full seasons in Houston, Caminiti was traded to the San Diego Padres after the season in a 12-player trade. In San Diego, his all-around batting numbers increased significantly, especially his power (from .283 with 18 home runs and 75 RBI in 1994 to .302/26/94 in and .326/40/130 in ). His 1996 season won him the National League Most Valuable Player Award.

Caminiti returned to Houston as a free agent in , where he played for two more seasons. He was slowed by injuries during his second tenure in Houston, and after struggling the first half of with the Texas Rangers, he was released and finished his career with the Atlanta Braves, who moved him across the infield in an effort to fulfill their desire for a power-hitting first baseman.

Following his career in baseball, Caminiti was hired by the Padres to be a spring training instructor for his former team.

Before his death, Caminiti had gone into a partnership with actor Jason Gedrick and hockey star Mario Lemieux to open a new cigar bar called Ashes Cigar Club on Wall Street.


Caminiti won 3 Gold Glove Awards while playing for the Padres in , , and , and he was unanimously selected as the National League's MVP in 1996. In , 1996, and 1997, he appeared in the All Star Game.

Personal struggles

Caminiti struggled with substance abuse throughout his career. He admitted in to having a problem with alcohol and checked himself into a rehabilitation center in . In a Sports Illustrated cover story in , a year after his retirement, he admitted that he had used steroids during his 1996 MVP season, and for several seasons afterwards. It was the first public admission of steroid use by any professional baseball player. Caminiti's announcement sent shockwaves through the sport: players became recalcitrant at being exposed, and reporters were embarrassed that no one had bothered, in the post-strike era when home runs exploded, to suspect steroid use by the players. Caminiti's revelation contributed to Congressional inquiries and a league-wide steroids scandal.

Caminiti also had a long struggle with cocaine, having been arrested in March 2001 for possession and sentenced to probation. On October 5, 2004 – just five days prior to his death – he admitted in a Houstonmarker court that he had violated his probation. He tested positive for cocaine in September 2004. It was his fourth such violation and he was sentenced to 180 days in prison but given credit for time already served and released.

He was discussed in the Mitchell Report on steroid abuse in baseball in regard to his past admitted steroid abuse.


Caminiti died of an apparent heart attack at Lincoln Memorial Hospitalmarker in The Bronxmarker on October 10, 2004. Preliminary news reports on October 15 indicated he died of a drug overdose. Rob Silva, an acquaintance of Caminiti who spent part of the day with him on October 10, told Newsday that Caminiti was edgy and depressed on the day he died, but also said he did not witness Caminiti using drugs on that day. On November 1, the New York City Medical Examiners Office announced that Caminiti died from "acute intoxication due to the combined effects of cocaine and opiates," but coronary artery disease and cardiac hypertrophy (an enlarged heart) were also contributing factors .

See also



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