Friday, September 10, 2010
Unpossible Autograph Friday- Alan Wiggins
Alan Wiggins' story is probably one of the sadder tales in Orioles history. You might see his picture on this 1986 Fleer card and think that he looks pretty young. Why is Alan an unpossible autograph then?
Alan was the California Angels' first round draft pick (8th overall) in the 1977 draft but he failed to live up to his high draft position and washed out of the Angels and Dodgers organizations before being snagged by the San Diego Padres in the 1980 Rule V draft. He showed off his tremendous speed at various Minor League levels and reportedly stole 120 bases in a single season while still in the Dodgers' system.
He made his Major League debut in late 1981 with the Padres and had decent success over the next 4 seasons with them but was also arrested multiple times for cocaine possession. His drug use and addiction would be a recurring theme over Alan's remaining years.
After another cocaine relapse, the Padres traded Alan to the Orioles in the middle of the '85 season and he filled a utility role for the O's over the next few seasons. He continued to show blazing speed on the base paths but his average and on-base percentage went down each year, but he had a harder time stealing bases since he was no longer good at getting to first. It's impossible for me to directly connect his decreased level of play to his drug use, but it was certainly a possibility since he was getting worse in his late 20's which are normally the prime years of a player's career. The '87 season was Alan's last year in organized baseball and he died in 1991 from complications due to AIDS. It's believed that he was the first baseball player to die from AIDs.
While he died at the very young age of 32, Alan's son and daughter are keeping the Wiggins name in sports as Alan Jr. and Candice are professional basketball players; he plays for the German club Eisbaren Bremerhaven and she plays for the Minnesota Lynx of the WNBA.
RIP Alan, you died way too young.