A man and his bike
A quarter century before Fernando Tatis, Jr.'s wrist injury, Ken Caminiti also got attention for his love of motorcycles.
Padres superstars love their motorcycles.
A quarter century before Fernando Tatis, Jr.'s wrist injury — attributed to an offseason motorcycle crash — sidelined him for the start of the 2022 season, Ken Caminiti also got attention for his love of motorcycles.
Ken always had a need for speed. He was introduced to John Covington of Surgical-Steeds in Scottsdale, Arizona, during 1996 spring training by teammate Rob Deer.
Ken was hooked — he wanted a customized Steed Clydesdale of his own.
He settled on a color scheme of pink, black and silver that matched his prize-winning '55 Chevy show car. Teammate Bob Tewksbury chipped in with a design for the gas tank, featuring a switch-hitter’s silhouette on each side, and a baseball featuring Ken’s signature over the rear wheel.
“I delivered that one to San Diego for him and that's when I realized what kind of impact he had,” Covington said. “When he was out riding that bike in San Diego, every street corner, somebody was yelling, ‘Hey Ken! Hey Ken!’ I'm like, wow.”
Early the following season, the Padres decided to launch a new initiative, a fundraiser in honor of Cindy Matters, a Padres fan who died of cancer. Matters’ favorite player was Brad Ausmus, and Ausmus and other players recorded a video for her in 1996, and she threw out a first pitch before one of the team’s games. Now the Padres wanted to do something more. Team officials decided on a pediatric cancer program as a way of honoring Matters’ life. Michele Anderson, Padres director of community relations, discussed the initiative with players.
When she approached Ken, he had his game face on.
“He had an intensity about him, but sometimes I couldn’t always tell if he’s hearing me,” Anderson said.
Ken didn’t say much to Anderson, and she wondered if maybe this program wasn’t right for him. The next day, he saw Anderson and called her over.
“I’ve really been thinking about this, and I decided I want to donate my bike. I think that would get some excitement,” he told Anderson. He had heard Anderson the day before, “he was simply trying to formulate the best way that he could respond to it, and he was really excited about it and energized,” she said. “It touched him, and he just needed a little time to figure out the best way to help.”
Ken had Covington build a second motorcycle specifically for the auction.
He was photographed and videotaped riding his bike, including for a photo that appeared on his 1998 Fleer Ultra card. The card shows Ken sitting on his motorcycle while wearing his Padres uniform, a backward hat, and sunglasses — coolness personified.