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Kevin Mitchell

Life has a way of preparing you for grander adventures. Growing up in a rough section of San Diego, Kevin Mitchell faced the daunting task of going through life without a consistent male role model while weaving through the gang-infested streets just outside his front door. However, this only seemed to fortify him for what lay ahead. In his time in the major leagues, Kevin Mitchell would see his share of great and terribly momentous moments. This is his story.

The Early Years

Kevin Darnell Mitchell was born on January 13, 1962 in San Diego, California. With his parents having separated when he was two, young Kevin was raised primarily by his grandmother and mother while his father, Ernie, battled a cocaine addiction that would wreck havoc on his son's life many years later.

Mitchell was surrounded by gangs growing up and struggled in school, attending multiple schools before graduating from Crawford High School. But academics had held him back in athletics and by the time he graduated, Kevin Mitchell had yet to play any baseball.

Directionless, Kevin Mitchell attended an open tryout hosted by the New York Mets near his home. It was on that field where his life would change forever. Something clicked that day as Kevin Mitchell hit two home runs off of Bud Black, a middling player within the Kansas City Royals farm system. The Mets had seen enough and signed the unpolished ballplayer. He had no idea of the adventures that awaited him.

New York

All was going well for Kevin Mitchell when tragedy struck. His brother was shot and killed in San Diego. With Mitchell a world away in the minors, he considered going home before being talked out of it by his teammates. Just a few short months later, he was called up to the major leagues late in 1984. His brief foray with the Mets in 1984 brought a single rbi and a .214 batting average.

After spending another year in the minors, he was called up for 1986, right in time for one of the most memorable runs for the pennant in recent memory. While the swashbuckling Mets rumbled to the World Series, Kevin Mitchell enjoyed an excellent rookie season, hitting 12 home runs, driving in 43 scores and batting .277 while recording 114 putouts and coughing up just two errors.

As expected, the Mets made it to the World Series where they battled the championship-starved Red Sox all seven games. Facing elimination in the bottom of the 10th inning of Game 6 and down 5-3, Kevin Mitchell seized the opportunity as the Mets held on to their last out. He swung and connected on the pitch to send the ball into center field.

Two batters later, the Mets had closed the gap by one when newly installed pitcher Bob Stanley threw a wild pitch, sending Kevin Mitchell on home to tie the game. A short while later, Boston's Bill Buckner let the winning run pass through his legs and Shea Stadium shook with estasy. While the following day was rained out, Game 7 commenced and concluded two days later with the Mets winning the World Series.

The Giants

Despite his heroics, Kevin Mitchell's time in New York was only very brief as he was traded to the Padres before the 1987 season began. However, he struggled to fit in to his hometown team and was traded to San Francisco in the middle of the year. It was in the Bay Area where he would blossom into a quality everyday player.

In his first full season in San Francisco, Kevin Mitchell hit 19 home runs, drove in 80 scores and batted .257. Meanwhile, the Giants were busy making moves and preparing for the future. That year, they added speedy center fielder Brett Butler, first baseman Will Clark, third baseman Matt Williams and moved Mitchell to the outfield. On paper, the Giants looked ready for 1989.

That year, Kevin Mitchell led the majors in home runs (47), rbi (125) and slugging percentage (.635). For his efforts, he earned his first All-Star Game invitation and was named NL MVP. Paired with the powerful bat of Will Clark's 23 homers and 111 rbi, the Giants featured one of the game's most electric duos. But across the Bay stood a worthy adversary: the Oakland A's.

For the past couple of years, Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco had made opposing pitchers look absolutely powerless against the might of their swings. Interestingly, even though the two would go on to each hammer more than 400 home runs in their career, they only combined to connect on 50 dingers in 1989.

But by the time the two-time defending AL champions reached the 1989 World Series, the aptly named "Bash Brothers" were riding a hot streak, leading the team to wins in their first two games by scores of 5-0 and 5-1. And then tragedy struck. Just before Game 3 was to begin in Candlestick Park, a 6.9 magnitude earthquake struck San Francisco with a force that halted life and baseball.

For 10 days, volunteers from all over came together to rebuild San Francisco while the World Series was suspended. While the Giants played inter-squad scrimmages to pass the time, they could hear work crews fixing up the ballpark around them. It inspired them.

In Game 3, Kevin hit a single before being driven in for a run in the 13-7 loss. In the bottom of the sixth of Game 4, the Giants were down 8-0 when Mitchell blasted two-run blast off of Mike Moore. The Giants lost the game 9-6 and the series in a sweep. Kevin Mitchell would never return to the Fall Classic.

Kevin Mitchell would continue to produce for the Giants over the next two years, hammering 35 home runs and 93 rbi in 1990, another All-Star season, before hitting 27 homers in 1991. But by 1992, the team was ready to move on from the slugger and traded him to Seattle.

Later Career and Life

His time in Seattle was brief, hitting just nine home runs and batting .286 in 1992, before being shipped off to Cincinnati in 1993. He hit his stride as. aRed, bashing 49 homers over his two years in Ohio while batting more than .320 in each, hitting his peak with 30 home runs in 1994.

The last three years of his career were forgettable as he bounced around from Boston to Cleveland before finishing his career in Oakland. Although his batting average was decent overall (save for a paltry .153 1997), he failed to crack 10 homers in any of his last three years in the major leagues.

But life wasn't always smooth sailing for Kevin Mitchell following his retirement and he was soon forced to have some much needed confrontations with his father. After years of battling a cocaine addiction that even made him sell his son's 1986 World Series ring, life was coming apart for Earl Mitchell In August 1999, Kevin was arrested for assaulting his father, who he was trying to evict from one of his properties. Finally, Earl heeded his son's advice and went to rehab.

Kevin Mitchell didn't leave the game that had given him so much altogether. In 2000, he became the head coach of the Sonoma County Crusaders. But trouble soon followed with a pair of suspensions in 2000 and 2002, both due to lack of anger management.

He was diagnosed as a diabetic early in retirement and initially lost 40 pounds before rebounding and committing himself to a life of healthy living. Today, he devotes his time at Athletes for Education in his hometown of San Diego.

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