Tuesday, August 23, 2011
#560) MIKE KINKADE
Mike Kinkade was traded by the Milwaukee Brewers to the New York Mets in exchange for Bill Pulsipher on July 31, 1998. Mike was sent to Triple-A Norfolk where he performed well enough for the Tides to warrant a late-season call-up to New York. He made his big-league debut on September 8, 1998. Kinkade was a defensive replacement at third base during the 16-4 blow-out loss to the Phillies in Philadelphia. He would appear in only three games to close the season, and fail to record a hit in the only two at-bats he saw.
Mike made the major-league Opening Day roster with New York in 1999. He earned the opportunity with a strong .321 batting average during spring training. "Obviously it is not an exact science here," explained Mets manager, Bobby Valentine. "Basically we went with a guy that could give us a good at-bat in just about any situation in the game."
Baseball Digest shared a humorous account of one of his baseball milestones. "...when rookie Mike Kinkade got his first major league hit, (Robin) Ventura retrieved the ball, then passed off a phony one deliberately misspelling Kinkade's name on it and noting the hit as a single rather than a double. When Kinkade received the ball, he looked disappointed as teammates looked on comically. Then, Ventura came forward with the real ball and presented it to Kinkade."
Mike showed his extreme defensive versatility at Shea Stadium on April 15th. Kinkade had previous minor-league experience as a catcher, and entered the ninth inning of a 11-4 loss to the Florida Marlins at that position. He would catch Allen Watson, who struck out three batters in the frame, on an evening that saw Todd Pratt as the only active receiver on the roster. An injured Mike Piazza was unavailable.
Kinkade slugged his first major-league home run in front of the hometown fans on April 29th. The blast was part of the Mets comeback 8-5 victory over the San Diego Padres. "What was I thinking rounding the bases?," said Mike. "That I would never forget this as long as I live."
Offensive struggles caused the Mets to option Kinkade back to Norfolk on May 10th. Mike's batting average had dipped to .196. He was recalled on September 8th, but never saw another plate appearance before season's end. The Mets later discussed adding the rookie to the 1999 National League Championship series roster as a third catcher due to an injury to Mike Piazza's thumb. It did not occur and Kinkade's year ended with 27 game appearances.
The righthanded hitter was sent all the way back to Double-A Binghamton for the 2000 season. Mike excelled there and was named an Eastern League All-Star before being recalled to New York on July 25th. Kinkade played in two games for the Mets before being traded to the Baltimore Orioles along with Melvin Mora, Pat Gorman, and Lesli Brea on July 28th. New York received shortstop, Mike Bordick at the trading deadline for their postseason run.
Kinkade represented the United States in the 2000 Summer Olympics, and after his ten-year playing career became a minor-league coach. Mike was named the hitting coach of the Everett Aquasox in 2011.
Mike Kinkade signed his card in the set for my friend, Greg Norman at the Tri-City Dust Devils and Everett AquaSox game at Everett Memorial Stadium on August 11, 2011.