October 11, 2004


Former Astro Ken Caminiti dead at 41 of apparent heart attack (ROSANNA RUIZ, 10/11/2004, Houston Chronicle)

Ken Caminiti, a former Houston Astros third baseman and National League Most Valuable Player whose career came crashing down under the burden of drug and legal problems, died of a massive heart attack in New York late Sunday, his agent confirmed. He was 41.

Rick Licht, Caminiti's agent and close friend, said Caminiti died at New York's Lincoln Memorial Hospital in the Bronx. Licht, who last spoke to Caminiti last week, declined to comment about the former All-Star's sudden death.

"The whole situation is devastating certainly for myself and his family — he has three children," he said. "I spoke to him so many times recently, and he sounded fantastic. He was very clear and focused and looking forward to spending time with his little girls and getting back into baseball."

In recent years, Caminiti, had been beset by legal and drug problems.

A friend was flying from NY to Houston one time and recognized Mr. Caminiti in the seat next to him. Turns out he'd been in town to pick up the MVP trophy, which he proceeded to take down from the overhead storage bin. Polls of atheletes often show that they'd be willing to trade years off their lives in exchange for enhanmced performance--how's that deal look now?

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 11, 2004 10:43 AM

I loved Caminiti as a player. That said, steroids and cocaine are a toxic cardiac brew.

Posted by: Fred Jacobsen (San Fran) at October 11, 2004 11:09 AM

The performance enhancers were bad enough, but the addiction to "recreational" drugs was worse. He couldn't overcome it.

So sad.

Bags and Bidge were especially close to the man. Maybe it's crass of me to think of the playoffs right now, but I can't imagine they're gonna be in a very good frame of mind.

Posted by: kevin whited at October 11, 2004 11:56 AM

Yup, a very toxic brew. I wonder how well he would have fared in his natural state - would he have been a journeyman player, without a chance to win the MVP? Would his career have been shortened?

Steroids are like any other drug - the dose makes the poison, and not all anabolics are alike in their side effects and cardio effects profile. A knowledgeable physician could have helped here.

Posted by: Bruce Cleaver at October 11, 2004 11:57 AM

>"He was very clear and focused and looking
>forward to spending time with his little girls
>and getting back into baseball."
>Polls of atheletes often show that they'd be
>willing to trade years off their lives in
>exchange for enhanced performance--how's that
>deal look now?

Guess it depends on what you're living for...

Whether it's your little girls or being Al ("I was a Football Star...") Bundy.

Posted by: Ken at October 11, 2004 12:15 PM

The issue that comes up here is that steroid use is almost a requirement in order to remain competitive. Just take a look at your average NFL offensive lineman, that's just not normal.

Posted by: Bart at October 11, 2004 8:22 PM

Lyle Alzado was about 45 when he died, wasn't he?

Posted by: jim hamlen at October 12, 2004 10:44 AM

Alzado was 45. Matuszak was 39.

Posted by: Bart at October 12, 2004 12:00 PM

Being a world-class athlete then dying at 45? I'd take that deal in a second. Where do I sign up? Unfortunately for me, even with steroids, I'd never a be a world-class anything (athletic).

Posted by: Bret at October 12, 2004 12:01 PM

It's an easy deal to make, when one is 18, and 45 seems ancient - Far less attractive when one is 45, and one knows that one might have had another 45.

Problem is, even with the juice, most people don't make it as pro athletes, but some damage has already been done.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at October 12, 2004 5:39 PM