Out of Sight, Out of Mind.

 The Astros of the 1990s were laden with talent.  Some of the names are familiar to all of baseball such as Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell.  Others are known to the teams they impacted such as Kenny Lofton and Karl Rhodes.  On the other end of that spectrum was a group of guys with incredible talent but little impact on the game.  The poster child for this group was a man named Andujar Cedeno.

 

Andujar Cedeno was consistently one thing his entire career: inconsistent.  The streakiness of his talent would cause him to bounce back and forth between the major leagues and the minor leagues.  With the Astros alone, he was recalled to the majors five times.

 

In 1992, he would do something extraordinary.  It was his third call up to the major leagues and he was ready to prove he deserved a permanent spot on the Astros roster.  His first hit was a well-placed triple into the right-field followed by a home run.  It was already an amazing game, but could he make history?  After walking in the 9th, it looked doubtful but the game was tied.  He would manage a double in the 11th, but nobody suspected he would get another at-bat.  In the 13th inning, he would hit a single and set one of the more specific records in baseball history.  He is the only player to hit for the cycle in their first game after being called up from the minor leagues.

 

His name is listed among legends of the game but he was not yet done setting records.  True to his nature, he would set a record of a far more dubious nature.  In 1994, after earning a consistent role in the Astros lineup he would blow his big opportunity.  While he would turn more double plays than any other shortstop, he would also commit the most errors by any player in the national league.

 

His days with the Astros seemed over as he bounced between the minor leagues, Detroit, and San Diego.  He would spend one more brief stint with the Astros before returning to the minors.  Then, in 2000, his life was unexpectedly cut short in a car wreck.  He was traveling down a dirt road in the Dominican Republic after a truck hit his car head-on.  He was killed instantly.

 

Ralph Kiner, calling a game in which Cedeno hit a homerun, once made a call that unintentionally summed up Cedeno's career and life.  "He swings!  And is hit by the pitch.  And it is hit over the wall and out of here for a homerun!"  It didn't make much sense.  It was a little funny.  And it left us all feeling a little sad and proud at the same time.

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