Kevin Collins grew up in Springfield, Massachusetts loving baseball. Like many children his dream was to one day play professional baseball for a living, and he was one of the lucky few to achieve that goal. Although he never became a regular player in the major leagues, he played parts of six seasons with three different teams, and got to make many great baseball memories.
Signed out of high school in 1964 by the New York Mets, the left-handed hitting, right-handed throwing infielder made quick work in the minor leagues of the talent starved Mets. Collins made his major league debut in 1965 as a 19 year old. He only received 23 official at bats, and collected 4 hits, including his first, against Bob Friend and the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Playing all of 1966 in the minors, Collins ultimately bounced back and forth from New York to various minor league teams in 1967, 1968, and 1969. He never put up impressive numbers, but his versatility made him a valuable commodity. Primarily a third baseman, Collins nevertheless appeared at each infield position at various points during his major league career, and even made played several games in the outfield.
Collins was traded to the Montreal Expos mid-way through the 1969 season, and spent 1970-1971 with the Detroit Tigers, but was never able to find a place as a regular player. His last major league at bat came on September 29, 1971 against the Cleveland Indians. In front of 2,596 fans at Cleveland Stadium, Collins grounded out to first base against Cleveland’s Vince Colbert as the last out of the eighth inning in a 2-1 loss.
Collins played several more seasons in the minor league systems of the Tigers and Indians before finally hanging up his spikes for good following the 1974 season. Playing mostly off the bench during his six major league seasons, Collins appeared in a total of 201 games, but only had 388 at bats. He finished with a .209 career batting average, with 6 home runs and 34 RBI. More information about his career statistics is available at http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/c/collike01.shtml.
It is interesting to speculate how Collins’ career may have turned out differently if he had been given a little more time to grow in the minors. However, players were advanced much more aggressively by the parent clubs during his era than they are today, and he did spend more time in the big leagues than many players ever do.
Recently I was able to get Collins to answer some questions about his career in baseball, and found out a little more about the versatile utility man.
Kevin Collins Questionnaire:
What was the strangest play you ever saw as a player on the baseball diamond?: An unassisted triple play by Dal Maxvill against us, the Mets, in 1968.
Who was your favorite coach or manager?: Bill Virdon, without a doubt.
What was your favorite city to play in and why?: Boston and Fenway Park because I grew up a Red Sox fan, being from Massachusetts.
If you could do anything differently about your career, what would that be?: I’d be better than I was. But I did get the best and most out of my ability!
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