Eugene Kingsale's claim to fame in an unspectacular six-year major league career? He was the first player from Aruba to play in the majors when he joined the Orioles as a September call-up in 1996.
But Kingsale, a 27-year-old journeyman, does not want his baseball legacy to be as a trivia answer. Kingsale, who played parts of four seasons (1996, '98-'00) with the Orioles before landing part-time roles with three other clubs between 2001 and '03, is back in the Baltimore organization trying to revive his career. He was signed 10 days ago after being released by San Diego and is the Bowie Baysox center fielder.
"The last couple seasons have been tough, but I'm still young, I can still play the game," said Kingsale, who is 5 for 17 (.294) -- hitting leadoff -- entering last night's game against Altoona. "Just trying to get back. I'm feeling good right now, now that I'm back playing every day. Hopefully something good will happen."
Kingsale said an assortment of injuries -- dislocated shoulder, broken hand, sprained knee ligaments, and a strained oblique -- have held him back so far in his career.
Signed as a 17-year-old undrafted amateur free agent in 1993, the 6-foot-3 Kingsale had that brief September stint in '96 but couldn't stick in the big leagues during the '98 and '99 seasons. Kingsale was traded to the Mariners before being sent to San Diego and then Detroit in 2003. In parts of six major league seasons, he has a career .251 average but also one strikeout every 5.5 at-bats.
Kingsale's first full week with Bowie ended in dramatic fashion Sunday: His three-run homer in the top of the 12th was the game-winner in a 7-4 victory over Reading.
"I'm not a big home run hitter," said Kingsale, who has hit three in his major league career. "My game is just to try to get on base, play solid defense and try to score runs and steal some bases."