So many Ken-ections
Here's a breakdown of all of the Ken Caminiti-themed storylines at play with each possible World Series matchup, including Padres-Astros.
Ken Caminiti's presence looms large with the four remaining playoff teams.
The star third baseman was best known for playing for San Diego and Houston, and he faced the Yankees in the 1998 World Series.
Here's a breakdown of all of the Caminiti-themed storylines at play with each possible World Series matchup.
Padres vs. Astros
Ken was drafted by the Astros in 1984 and made his debut with the team in 1987.
With Houston, he had some notable experiences against the Padres, especially a 1989 game when he knocked the ball away from catcher Benito Santiago to score the game-tying run in the ninth inning.
After the end of the 1994 season, Ken was included in a 12-player trade between Houston and San Diego.
He was a Padre now, and during his four seasons in San Diego he reached the pinnacle of his career, winning the 1996 MVP award and helping the team reach the Fall Classic two seasons later (San Diego also defeated Houston in the NLDS that year).
After the 1998 season, he returned as a free agent to Houston, where he spent two more seasons.
Ken remained a fan favorite in San Diego, and he received a standing ovation in 2003 as the Padres prepared to move out of Qualcomm Stadium. He was added to the team's hall of fame in 2016.
Padres vs. Yankees
This matchup would represent a rematch of the 1998 World Series.
Ken was struggling that series with health and personal issues, but he tried to grit it out.
New York ended up sweeping San Diego, and it was the last time the Padres reached the World Series.
Phillies vs. Astros
Caminiti made his Major League debut for the Astros against the Phillies on July 16, 1987.
His defensive wizardry was on display early, and in the fifth inning, he recorded his first MLB hit, a triple. He added a home run in the seventh and later scored the game's winning run on the way to being named National League Player of the Week in his first week in the majors.
Ken's name stayed in the Phillies' minds, and in 1994, the team was in need of a third baseman. Dave Hollins, who had a lot of pop in his bat, was struggling on defense and battling injuries. Kim Batiste wasn’t performing much better.
Phillies manager Jim Fregosi liked foxhole guys. And Ken Caminiti was a foxhole guy.
Houston was also looking to move Caminiti, given his contract and the fact that prospect Phil Nevin was waiting in the wings.
Getting Caminiti could have allowed the Phillies to move Hollins to the outfield. Talks between the Astros and Phillies heated up in May 1994, with conversations centering around Milt Thompson or Jim Eisenreich being shipped to the Astros.
The hang-up came with Ken’s contract—he was owed $3.2 million in 1994 and $4.3 million, and that was more than Philadelphia wanted to pay. They hoped that Houston would cover a portion of Caminiti’s salary.
Amid the swirling trade talks, Ken’s bat got red-hot. He batted .372 for the month of May, with 6 home runs and 21 ribbies on the strength of a 14-game hitting streak.
By that point, the Astros were in first place, and the trade talk would die down until the offseason, when Houston and San Diego began to map out what would become a 12-player trade.
Fregosi was able to get his foxhole guy to play for him for one game—the 1994 All-Star Game.
Phillies vs. Yankees
Ken never played for the Phillies or Yankees, although both teams considered signing or trading for him at various points in his career.
But he did suit up as a home player in Philadelphia for the 1996 All-Star Game, when he crushed a home run to help the National League defeat the American League 6-0.