MLB Players to Tell My Kids About, Vol. 2: Ken Caminiti
Heart, arm, and honesty.
Those are the three characteristics I will remember Ken Caminiti for, and three principles that I will convey the importance of to my children.
I mean, think about it...
Heart: If you don't show any heart, how can you find your way into a girl's?
Arm: If you don't have a big arm, the bully at school will steal your lunch money.
Honesty: If you always tell the truth, I'll never stop loving you.
I want to introduce my children to these principles at an early age, and tell them about the man who lived them out during his career in the major leagues.
I want to convey to them Cami's willingness to get his pants dirty fishing for a hard grounder down the foul line. I want to tell them about the effort he put forth to continue playing baseball no matter how loudly his body told him no.
Forget his 40 homers and 130 RBI season in 1996—Caminiti was the best fielding third basemen I ever saw. I'll go on record with that. I find it extraordinary that he only won three Gold Gloves at the position.
His rocket arm and ability to turn grounders into outs was unmatched by any of his contemporaries, including defensive wizards like Robin Ventura, Matt Williams, and Scott Rolen.
It took an MVP offensive season to get noticed for his work at third, but Caminiti was making amazing plays well before then.
What's more, Caminiti's steroid confession in 2002 exposed baseball's monster-in-the-closet to the public—even if it made him a villain at the time.
In hindsight, Caminiti's honesty should be remembered as one the best things that ever happened to baseball. The game needed to be cleaned up, and Cami provided the impetus.
Caminiti saw what steroids had done to his life, and said something before other players paid the same price. Who can fault a man for not wanting to live a lie?
Cami may have died tragically at age 41, but his heart, arm, and honesty will live on forever.
I hereby pledge to tell my children about third baseman Ken Caminiti.
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