- Kevin Mitchell (baseball)
Infobox MLB retired
birthdate=birth date and age|1962|1|13
New York Mets
stat3label=Runs batted in
New York Mets(by|1984, by|1986)
San Diego Padres(by|1987)
San Francisco Giants(by|1987-by|1991)
Boston Red Sox(by|1996)
* 2x All-Star selection (1989, 1990)
Silver Slugger Awardwinner (1989)
Kevin Darnell Mitchell (born
January 13, 1962in San Diego, California) is a former American Major League Baseball left fielder. He became widely known not only for his occasional brilliance on the field, but also for his unpredictable and sometimes volatile behavior off the field.
Early life and education
As a youth Mitchell was shot three times in situations resulting from his involvement in street gangs. Mitchell allegedly fought with fellow rookie
Darryl Strawberryduring a pick-up basketball game in 1982 shortly after both were drafted and signed by the New York Mets.
New York Mets
Peter Golenbock's oral history of the New York Mets, Hall of Fame catcher Gary Cartersaid he gave Mitchell the nickname "World" for his ability to play in the infield and outfield. Carter spoke fondly of Mitchell's talents. [Golenbock, Peter. "Amazin': The Miraculous History of New York's Most Beloved Baseball Team" (Macmillan, 2003)]
urban legendinvolving Mitchell holds that during the Mets' championship run in by|1986, during an argument with his then live-in girlfriend, Mitchell decapitated her cat. The story first came to light in Dwight Gooden's autobiography, "Heat". Gooden claimed that an enraged Mitchell held him hostage during the alleged cat incident. Mitchell responded to Gooden's accusations by accusing Gooden of fabricating the stories in an attempt to divert attention away from Gooden's personal problems.Fact|date=August 2008
In the famous final inning of Game 6 of the
1986 World Series, after Wally Backmanand Keith Hernandezhad been retired for the first two outs, Mitchell went to the clubhouse to make plane reservations for home in San Diego. However, he was called to pinch hitfor reliever Rick Aguileraafter Gary Carter, the next hitter after Hernandez, singled. Mitchell, who had already gotten out of his uniform and had on his regular clothes, hurriedly put his uniform back on without his protective cup and went to the plate and singled.Fact|date=August 2008 He would eventually score the tying run.
In a July 2007 radio interview with local sports talk radio station
KNBR, Mitchell disputed that he was out of uniform at the time, and stated that he never wore a cup, even when playing infield. When asked why he never wore a cup, Mitchell responded, "I couldn’t find one big enough for my junk." The interviewer then commented that maybe the increased mobility helped Mitchell to make the famous 1989 barehanded catch of Ozzie Smith's fly ball.Fact|date=August 2008
Mitchell was traded to the
San Diego Padresafter the 1986 season, where he played one season before landing in San Francisco where he would reach his full potential.
July 4, by|1987, Mitchell was traded to the Giants as part of a multi-player trade that also sent pitchers Dave Draveckyand Craig Leffertsto San Francisco in exchange for third baseman Chris Brown (a high school teammate) and pitchers Keith Comstock, Mark Davis, and Mark Grant. While Dravecky was initially considered to be the key to the trade for the Giants, it was Mitchell who emerged as a superstar.
; Most Valuable PlayerAfter two seasons playing primarily at third base, he had his best season with the Giants in by|1989 upon being moved to the outfield. In that season, he batted .291 with a league-best 125 RBI and 47
home runs, leading the team to the playoffs and winning the National League's Most Valuable Player award, the first by a Giant since Willie McCoveyin by|1969. He added a .353 average and 2 homers in the NLCS to help the team to its first World Series appearance since 1962.
Mitchell is the only player in Major League Baseball history to win a Most Valuable Player award and play for five major league teams before his 32nd birthday. Mitchell is also the only MVP award winner to play for eight major league teams in his career.
; The barehanded catchMitchell set the tone for the season early in the year with an uncharacteristically excellent "defensive" play, making a running bare-handed catch of a fly ball to deep left field in St. Louis' Busch Stadium off of
Ozzie Smith. His barehanded catch is considered one of the best defensive plays in the history of the game.
A two-time All-Star with the Giants, later years saw his play decline due to an often indifferent attitude as well as various other distractions. Traded to the Mariners after the by|1991 season, he arrived at
spring trainingthe following year 30 pounds (14 kg) overweight. He had a resurgence in by|1994 with the Reds, batting .326 with 30 HRs and 77 RBI in just 310 at-bats in the strike-shortened season; but he opted to play in Japan the following year, where he became the highest-paid player in Japanese history.Fact|date=August 2008 In Japan, he incurred the displeasure of team management when he chose to travel to the U.S. in mid-season for treatment of knee problems against the team's wishes.
In the next two years, he played for four major league teams (Cincinnati, Boston, Cleveland, Oakland), rarely showing his former ability.
Today, Mitchell lives in
San Diegoand plays in the San Diego Adult Baseball Leaguefor the championship team, the San Diego Black Sox, run by Mike Micheli.
Arrest and suspension
After being released for the last time, he was arrested in late 1998 for assaulting his father during an argument.Fact|date=August 2008 Back in the minor leagues as manager of the Sonoma County Crushers in by|2000, he was suspended for nine games after punching the opposing team's owner in the mouth during a brawl.Fact|date=August 2008
Mitchell's cousin, Keith Mitchell, also played in the major leagues for four different teams across four seasons (between 1991 and by|1998), ending his career with a .260 batting average and eight home runs — 226 fewer than his cousin.
Mitchell sustained several unusual injuries during his career. He once strained a muscle while vomiting. [Daughters, Howard. [http://www.funny2.com/baseball.htm "True Baseball Injuries," Funny2.com.] ] However, the most infamous of Mitchell's injuries occurred when he broke a tooth eating a frozen chocolate donut that he had put in the microwave too long and had hardened. The incident is said to have led to Mitchell's needing a
root canal, and he was later fitted with a gold tooth as the replacement.Fact|date=August 2008
MLB players who have hit 30 or more home runs before the All-Star break
Top 500 home run hitters of all time
List of Major League Baseball RBI champions
List of Major League Baseball home run champions
Major League Baseball hitters with three home runs in one game
* [http://www.baseballlibrary.com/baseballlibrary/ballplayers/M/Mitchell_Kevin.stm Page at "Baseball Library"]
* [http://www.snopes.com/sports/baseball/mitchell.asp Urban Legends Reference Page: Sports (Kevin Mitchell)]
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.