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The Royals hire Willie Aikens

Feb 2, 2011, 10:30 AM EDT

Willie Aikens

The Royals hired a former player as a minor league coach yesterday. No biggie. Happens every day. Except this minor league coach is Willie Mays Aikens, who spent nearly 14 years in federal prison for selling crack in the mid 90s.

Aikens — who had a breakout performance in the 1980 World Series — has been working in construction and giving anti-drug talks in the Kansas City area since his release from prison in 2008.  Now he has a chance to finally get back into baseball.  Aikens made a lot of mistakes in his life, but he has paid for them. More than paid for them, actually, given that his original prison sentence was held — along with many others — to have been too long given the government’s unconstitutional treatment of crack cocaine offenders compared to powder cocaine offenders.

I last thought about Aikens when Ron Washington got in trouble for taking cocaine last year. At the time I wrote a longish post about cocaine in baseball. It’s a part of the game’s recent history relatively few people know about.  They should learn more (and here’s an excellent and entertaining book about it all if you want to learn more).  Unlike steroids or amphetamines in baseball, cocaine destroyed the lives of many players. Even ending at least one.  It was serious business that has largely been overlooked since the PED stuff took off.

Anyway: good luck Willie Aikens. I hope you and the Royals take full advantage of your second chance in the game.

  1. BC - Feb 2, 2011 at 10:40 AM

    Steve Howe got how many chances? Six or so? I can’t recall how severe Aikens’s crime was, if he was dealing it or whatever. But you had that whole hoo-hah in the early 80’s with Dave Parker, Keith Hernandez, et al. Then (shifting sports) I think the tragic Len Bias incident scared the living bleep out of a lot of athletes except those that were hardcore into it (like Howe), and it died way down.

    • clydeserra - Feb 2, 2011 at 3:27 PM

      Dealing is in the eye of the beholder. People can be convicted of sales when they simply had more than the government “experts” claim is for personal use. Also if he had a lot of [insert drug here] and gave it to his friends, that is the same thing as sales.

      I hate seeing the word “Dealer” because of the negative connotation and it may or may not describe what was going on at the time of arrest.

  2. trevorb06 - Feb 2, 2011 at 10:41 AM

    I wonder if the Mariners had any interest in him?

    • BC - Feb 2, 2011 at 11:08 AM

      That a Maury Wills reference?

      • trevorb06 - Feb 2, 2011 at 11:16 AM

        No, but just look at the players the Mariners have been aquiring and their track records. Yes, I realize this was a rather dry joke but lets not kid ourselves, somebody was going to say it.

      • BC - Feb 2, 2011 at 11:25 AM

        Well, Milton Bradley kind of skews the curve a bit, but yeah, that’s a fair description.
        PS. Read this for some insight on Wills: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maury_Wills

      • trevorb06 - Feb 2, 2011 at 12:03 PM

        Well even that guy they got in the Lee deal, too.

      • clydeserra - Feb 2, 2011 at 3:28 PM

        You think Maury Wills had a few bumps in his day?

  3. metalhead65 - Feb 2, 2011 at 12:02 PM

    yea he unlike losers howe,gooden and strawberry to name a few did his time so let them sign him if they want. as for the cocaine deal if you were around that time it was no secret they just did not do anything to the offenders like the ones I mentioned except give them 37 chances to not do drugs! why drag up that stuff again?

    • BC - Feb 2, 2011 at 1:13 PM

      I remember the Len Bias thing with the Celtics like it was yesterday. I was just starting college. I did more than my share of partying (from what I recall, I had a good time), alcohol and occasional wacky weed. But coke (not the kind in a can) was rampant on my campus, and I was scared to death of it. Never in a million years.
      I understand drinking something or smoking something. But sucking something up your nose, it just doesn’t seem right. That and oh and by the way you could die instantly.

  4. cintiphil - Feb 2, 2011 at 5:33 PM

    Maybe they got him cheaply. remember they are trying to save money to rebuild in the future with all of those Minor league stars. In his new position he can probably help bring some of them up to the bigs. They may all be stoned, but so what, they will probably be cheap.

  5. baseballstars - Feb 2, 2011 at 6:37 PM

    That’s a ridiculous sentence for the offense. We throw non-violent offenders in for long prison sentences, and they often come out as hardcore animals. Pure stupidity, especially considering how certain elements of the government have been caught linked to the crack/cocaine epidemic.

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