Wednesday, July 29, 2015
#436 - Willie Aikens
What a card: This is the last card of Willie Aikens' major league career. He was released by the Blue Jays early in the 1985 season.
My observation on the front: I have no memory of Aikens being a Blue Jay.
More opinion from me: But I do remember well the hubbub over Aikens in 1980, the fact that he was named after Willie Mays, his electric postseason that year, and almost carrying Kansas City to a World Series title. He was almost exclusively referred to as "Willie Mays Aikens" then, but that kind of evaporated in the years that followed, and none of his cards list his name that way (although his signature on his 1980 Topps card says "Willie Mays Aikens").
Something you might know: Aikens burst on the major league scene with the Angels in 1979, hitting 21 home runs before being traded to Kansas City. But most remember him as one of the suspended drug-abusing players connected to the Pittsburgh drug trials, and Aikens' later incarceration after being convicted of distributing cocaine in 1994.
Something you might not know: Aikens, who was released from prison in 2008 after federal drug sentencing laws were changed, said he could have received a lighter sentence than the 20 years if he had helped the police catch a drug dealer that he knew. He said police wanted him to wear a wire tap and buy drugs from the dealer, but Aikens refused.
My observation on the back: The South Carolina doctor who added Mays to Willie's name did so two weeks after the New York Giants won the World Series and Willie Mays made his famous catch of the drive by Vic Wertz.
The blog wants to speak now: Really tired after a night at the ballpark and a lot of driving. I'm taking a research break.