Thursday, June 30, 2011

Player Profile: Willie Aikens

I have eleven cards of Willie Aikens. This one is from 1981 Donruss.

Playing career: Willie Aikens was a first baseman for the Angels, Royals and Blue Jays from 1977 to 1985, topping 20 home runs three times and leading the American League in intentional walks in 1981. He hit four home runs in the Royals’ 1980 World Series loss to the Phillies.

Where he is now: He was hired to be a Royals minor league coach in 2011. He had barely started the job when his wife suffered a stroke, and he went on leave to care for her. The last article mentioning her condition was in March. In June, Willie Aikens was part of a group of Royals representatives that was assisting residents of Joplin,MO in the aftermath of the tornado.

Interesting stories: In 1983 Aikens was one of three Royals arrested for purchasing cocaine. Originally suspended for the entire 1984 season, Aikens and teammates Vida Blue and Jerry Martin were eventually reinstated in May of that year. Aikens returned to cocaine after his playing career, and was arrested for selling cocaine to an undercover police officer and using a gun in a drug transaction. He served fourteen years in prison and was released in 2008.

My memories: I remember reading about him but his playing career was a little before my time.

Google Autocomplete results: He is first when you type in Willie Ai, ahead of Willie Aames, a former child TV star. Another prominent Willie Aikens is a former Boeing executive who served on President Clinton’s Commission on Chinese Relations.

Coming up next: The next profile will be Danny Ainge.

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