Monday, February 28, 2005 | Local sports radio airwaves have been filled with talk recently about what the Padres should do concerning their one-time slugger, Ken Caminiti. Caminiti, who was the National League Most Valuable Player in 1996, led the Padres to a division title in 1996 and 1998 and helped guide the team to the World Series in 1998. He died last October from heart failure at the young age of 41.

Caminiti was as hardworking and intense of a player as this city has ever seen, but he struggled with inner demons, specifically depression, alcoholism and cocaine addiction. The cocaine addiction ultimately led to heart failure and an early death.

Significantly, Caminiti also was one of the first baseball players to come out and admit he took steroids. He tried to warn baseball that there was a problem but was ostracized for speaking out. Caminiti claimed he only used steroids to help him come back from the serious shoulder injuries he suffered from during the 1996 season, but there are many baseball fans who consider him a cheater.

The topic of conversation among many San Diego sports fans is: Should the Padres honor one of their greatest players of all-time, or are they setting a bad example by putting a drug addict and cheater up on a pedestal? Well I, for one, believe that Caminiti should be honored for what he did on the field, not remembered for his failures off of it. The difference between Caminiti and guys like Barry Bonds and Jose Canseco is that Caminiti never lied to anyone about what he was doing. He wasn’t a jerk who didn’t have time for kids or was rude to the media and fans. Quite the opposite. Caminiti was one of the finest individuals ever to be around the Padres organization. His destructive behavior never hurt anyone but himself, and he never hid from that fact. Ken was part of our family, and you shouldn’t turn your back and shun your family. Everyone has family members who have problems with drugs, and if they lose that battle as Ken did, wouldn’t you still honor and remember them?

By honoring Caminiti and retiring his number, the Padres will ensure forever that future generations will always remember Caminiti the player and the lessons his life taught us. I will have no problem telling my children how great a player Caminiti was on the field and how much he struggled off of it. Hopefully, my children will be able to learn something from those stories. The story of Ken Caminiti is a tragic one indeed, but not remembering Caminiti would be the greatest tragedy of all.

Troy Roble grew up in Tierrasanta and attended University High School as well as Scripps Ranch High School. He participated in three sports in high school – football, basketball and baseball. Troy currently still plays basketball in local leagues twice a week and was a basketball and football referee while in college. He graduated from the University of San Diego and currently is in the executive MBA program at the University of California, San Diego Rady School of Business. He also works as a general manager for Caldera Spas and Baths. He is a lifelong Charger and Padres fan and an avid sports fan.

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