Friday, April 23, 2010
#59) KEVIN COLLINS
Kevin Collins was signed by the New York Mets out of Tech High School (Springfield, Missouri) in June of 1964. He made his major league debut as a New York Met on September 1, 1965. "I was 17 years old playing at Van Horn Park, and then when I was 18 I was playing at Shea Stadium." Kevin recalled. The late season call-up appeared in 11 games to close the year, but returned to the minor leagues for the 1966 season. Kevin would be named the Double-A Eastern League All-Star shortstop during that time. "You do what you have to do," Collins said. "You go from being the hot shot in Springfield...It's a stark realization that there are a whole lot of other Kevin Collins' out there. Being very good or pretty good in Springfield doesn't mean a lot."
He returned to New York at different parts of both the 1967 and 1968 campaigns. Serving as a reserve infielder in both those years. Kevin was traded to the Montreal Expos along with Steve Renko, Jay Carden, and Dave Colon in exchange for Donn Clendenon on June 15, 1969. "I grew up a Met," said Collins. "I knew everybody; I played with everybody. Look at some of the careers they had. You get comfortable. You know everybody, and they know you. And then, in mid-season, you're sent to another organization."
The 1969 team went on to become the Miracle Mets that won the first World Series for the franchise. "I saw those guys the next year at spring training, and I told them, 'I did more work for you guys than anybody on the Mets. I was the one who got traded for Clendenon, and he was the MVP of the World Series'," joked Kevin. "We had many laughs about that."
Collins worked for 20 years at an automotive supply business, and eventually advanced to become the Vice President of that company. During his time there he suffered an accident with a fork lift that severed part of his right foot. Kevin required 14 operations to reconstruct the foot. "It was quite an ordeal for everybody," he admitted. "That's not something you prepare for. But then again, you've just got to go on. Am I sorry it happened? Of course I am. But if that's the hand you are dealt, what are you going to do?" With much rehabilitation effort, he has been able to play golf two times a week, and creates wine from his home on Lake Huron in Michigan. Enjoying time with his family along the way.
I created Kevin Collins card in the set from an autographed index card given to me by my good friend Jessie on April 11, 2010.