|Joe Kennedy Dead at Age of 28|
Written by Daniel Paulling (Contact & Archive) on December 07, 2007
No, this was not Roberto Clemente dying on New Year’s Eve while flying on a plane loaded with supplies for those in need after an earthquake in Nicaragua. It wasn’t even Cory Lidle passing away in a plane wreck in New York City. This was the story of a 28-year-old who, it seems, died because of an enlarged heart.
Kennedy was not drafted out of high school. Usually a player earns a cursory glance from some bird-dog scout, but all 30 major league teams passed Kennedy 50 times over. He skipped playing for any major schools and instead went to Grossmont Junior College, where he quickly developed into a legitimate prospect.
The Devil Rays thought enough of him to snag Kennedy in the eight round after the pitcher had spent only one year in JUCO ball. It was pick number 252, so it was not like Kennedy was highly considered.
However, he made the best of his childhood dream of becoming a professional baseball player.
Kennedy put together several good years in the minor leagues, including a 0.19 ERA in seven starts in Class AA and a 3.31 ERA in 22 starts in Class A with the Devil Rays. However, desperate as they were for pitching, the Devil Rays called Kennedy up to the major leagues, and he was thrown into the fire at the age of 22.
Kennedy became an ace by default, putting up 117.2 innings with a 4.44 ERA in his rookie year and 196.2 innings with a 4.53 ERA in his second season.
It was too much, too soon, however. Kennedy flamed out and moved to the bullpen the very next year. His ERA climbed to a Rocky Mountain high of 6.13. You could not blame him if he felt as if everything had hit rock bottom.
There was nowhere to go but up. Especially in altitude. Kennedy was traded to the Colorado Rockies, which is known as where good pitchers go to have their careers derailed. Kennedy was looking for another chance to reclaim one that was just solid.
In 27 starts, Kennedy put together a 3.66 ERA, which stands as the alltime record for Rockies starters. It was easy to imagine that he was finding his form once again, that he was regaining the magic that had once made him a touted prospect.
However, it was just not meant to be. He was traded to the Oakland A’s after a 7.04 ERA in 16 starts with Colorado before putting up a 4.45 ERA in 19 games with the Athletics. Last year, he found a home as a relief pitcher, throwing 35 innings of excellent relief work.
And in 2007, Kennedy put together some decent outings, but moved from the Athletics to the Arizona Diamondbacks to the Toronto Blue Jays. He finished his major league career with a mediocre 4.79 ERA and 43 wins. There was a chance he could have done so much more.
When Kennedy died, he was visiting in-laws in Florida. He reportedly got out of bed a little after one in the morning and was walking out of his room. Kennedy collapsed before he even got out of the room.
And now he leaves behind a one-year-old son named Kaige and a wife, Jami, expecting the couple’s second child in June 2008.
Kennedy may not have been the most important player to have ever stepped foot on the field, but his death has left many throughout the game cognizant of their own mortality.