Spring Training is supposed to be a time of celebration and of looking ahead. On this day in 1999, it was a time of tragedy, as Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Ken Robinson was killed in a car accident.
Ken Robinson and John Rosengren had similar paths to the Arizona Diamondbacks. While Robinson had appeared in the Majors for the Blue Jays and the Royals, he was released after the 1997 campaign, and signed with Arizona. Rosengren, although he did not have Major League experience, had reached AAA before being released by the Tigers in that offseason, and likewise signed with the expansion club.
Both pitchers spent the majority of the 1998 campaign injured. Robinson threw all of two innings for the Diamondbacks rookie league team because of shoulder surgery. Rosengren also had surgery that year, and missed the entire 1998 season.
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As it turned out, their fates were also intertwined. The two pitchers, who had come to the team in a similar way, became friends. Naturally, the two would be hanging out with one another, which was the case on this day in 1999. However, the outing ended in tragedy, as Robinson was killed in a car accident.
Neither player was wearing a seat belt, but it was Robinson who suffered the injuries. He had several severe head injuries, and was pronounced dead at the scene. Rosengren, meanwhile, was unharmed.
However, Rosengren was not out of the woods. He was charged with second degree murder, having been drunk at the time of the accident. He displayed signs of impairment, and refused to submit to any tests. He also refused to answer any questions, and was instead focused on being with Robinson the entire time the police were at the scene.
After missing all of the 1999 campaign as well, Rosengren attempted to come back in 2000 with the Pittsburgh Pirates. However, he was not the same pitcher, posting a 7.12 ERA and a 1.750 WHiP in 24 innings across AA and AAA. He would attempt another comeback in 2003, pitching in the Atlantic League, but struggled there as well. That would be his last appearance in organized ball, as his career was over at 30 years old.