Former major league pitcher Ken Robinson is dead, and a fellow minor leaguer in the Arizona Diamondbacks' organization is charged with second-degree murder after an alcohol-related auto accident Sunday.
Police said Robinson, a 29-year-old right-hander who pitched for Toronto and Kansas City, was pronounced dead at the scene of the early-morning accident. The driver, pitcher John Rosengren, was being held in the Pima County Jail.
Rosengren, 26, of Barrington, Ill., showed signs of impairment, and a blood sample was taken, police said.
Police said Rosengren's car went off the road and overturned. Paramedics arrived at 1:40 a.m. to find both men in the vehicle.
Robinson had a severe head injury, police said. Rosengren was not injured. Neither player was wearing a seat belt.
Robinson had been a part of the Diamondbacks' 40-man roster in spring training a year ago, but missed the season because of shoulder surgery. He and Rosengren, who also missed all of last season after arm surgery, were awaiting the opening of the Diamondbacks' minor league training camp.
"This is a sad and tragic day for me personally," said Diamondbacks manager Buck Showalter. "The organization will miss Ken Robinson, both as a person and as a player. "
"He was a competitor in every sense of the word."
Robinson had brief big league stints as a relief pitcher with Toronto in 1995 and 1997, and with Kansas City in 1996. He spent most 1997 with Triple-A Syracuse, where he was 7-7 with a 3.56 ERA.
"It's a tremendously sad loss of one of the finest individuals you'd ever want to meet," Toronto pitching coach Mel Queen said from the Blue Jays' camp in Dunedin, Fla. "It makes you think just how quickly something can be taken away from you. "
"A lot of times you take things for granted, then something like this happens and you realize just how precious life really is."
Queen was Toronto's director of player development from 1990-95. Robinson was Toronto's 10th-round pick in 1991.
Robinson's former Toronto teammates were stunned.
"I just don't know what to say," Blue Jays first baseman Carlos Delgado said."It makes you think a bit, guys our age who played together and had a good time. It's a shame. It's just sad."
Robinson appeared in 21 games for Toronto in 1995, compiling a 1-2 record with a 3.69 ERA. During his three games with Toronto in 1997, he allowed just one hit, Cecil Fielder's 300th career home run in Yankee Stadium.
Robinson had a major league record of 2-2 with a 3.91 earned run average. The Diamondbacks signed him on Feb. 17, 1998, after he was waived by Toronto.
Robinson was a star at Archbishop Hoban High School in Akron, Ohio, and attended Florida State. He began playing professionally in 1991 with Medicine Hat, and also pitched for Myrtle Beach, Hagerstown, Dunediand Omaha.
He is survived by his widow, Lorrie, and a 22-month-old son, Chase. The family lives in Jacksonville, Fla.
Rosengren, signed by Arizona after being released by Detroit, was the setup man out of the bullpen for Triple-A Toledo in 1997, compiling a 1-3 record with a 3.99 ERA in 54 games. He attended the University of North Carolina and began pitching professionally in 1992, with stops in Bristol, Niagara Falls, Lakeland, Trenton and Jacksonville.
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