Cut Down

November 17, 2003

BURIED In his hometown of LaGrange, Ga., Reds outfielder Dernell
Stenson, allegedly the victim of a murder in Arizona, where he
had been playing fall baseball. About 1,000 people attended the
Monday funeral, including Ken Griffey Jr., Barry Larkin and 50
others from the Reds' organization. Police arrested four men in
connection with the crime, which is believed to have stemmed from
a robbery attempt.

On Nov. 4 pitcher Joe Valentine and two other Reds walked into
Sugar Daddy's, a Scottsdale bar frequented by Arizona Fall League
players, at around 11:30 p.m. and saw Stenson alone at the bar.
"We were walking outside to the patio and Dernell said he'd see
us back there," Valentine says. "But we didn't see him.... We
didn't get a goodbye, which was definitely unusual." Two hours
later police found Stenson's body lying six miles away, in a
Chandler street. He had been shot in the head and chest and run
over; a trail of blood ran more than 50 feet, indicating he had
been dragged by a car. Stenson is the first active major leaguer
to be slain since 1978, when Angels outfielder Lyman Bostock was
shot.

"He had so much to look forward to," says Stenson's older brother
James Stenson Jr. "It is so hard for my mother and all of us to
understand." Dernell, 25, had planned to spend the off-season in
Indianapolis with his longtime girlfriend. But when a roster spot
opened, Stenson--who hit .247 with three homers and 13 RBIs in 37
games for Cincinnati this year--went to the Scottsdale Scorpions,
where he had been batting .394. Drafted out of LaGrange High by
the Red Sox in the third round in 1996, Stenson "was considered
the heir apparent to Mo Vaughn," says Reds player development
director Tim Naehring, a former Red Sox player. But he struggled
at first base, was moved to the outfield at Triple A Pawtucket
and Boston put him on waivers in February. The Reds claimed him
and sent him to Double A. The demotion stung the shy Stenson, yet
he never complained and was rewarded when injuries to Reds
outfielders led to a promotion. "His dream was to play in the
major leagues," said his mother, Cora. "At least he got a chance
to realize his dream." --George Dohrmann

COLOR PHOTO: DAVID KOHL/AP (STENSON) FAREWELL Stenson, who hit a homer in his last big league game,was mourned by friends.
COLOR PHOTO: MIKE JACOBY/LAGRANGE DAILY NEWS/AP (FUNERAL) [See caption above]

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)