Alan Wiggins taking Batting Practice for Padres
- LF, OF, 2B, CF, RF, 1B, DH
- February 17, 1958
- 6' 2"
- 160 lbs
- Major League Debut:
- 9-04-1981 with SDN
The promising career of Alan Wiggins fizzled amid drug and personality problems. A first-round draft choice of theCalifornia Angels in 1977, Wiggins was released, signed by the Dodgers, then drafted away by San Diego in 1980. Playing the outfield and first base in 1983, he set a Padres record with 66 stolen bases. Moving to second base, the switch hitter was the spark plug of the 1984 San Diego Padres with 70 steals and 106 runs scored; his 75 walks compensated for his .258 batting average. Drug involvement ended his San Diego career, but Baltimore hoped the Los Angeles native would solve its lead-off problems. Wiggins did not, and also fell into disfavor with manager Earl Weaver.
Wiggins was born in 1958 in Los Angeles, California. After graduating fromHialeah High School in Hialeah, Florida, he went back to California, and spent one year at Pasadena Community College before being selected by the California Angels as the eighth overall pick of the 1977 Major League Baseball Draft.
Wiggins failed to live up to his early promise, and after a season and a half in the Angels' organization, in which he batted .241 with two home runs, he was released. He signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers shortly afterwards, and picked up an incredible 120 stolen bases for the Lodi Dodgers in 1980. He caught the eye of San Diego Padres General Manager Jack McKeon, who drafted him in the 1980 rule 5 draft.
San Diego Padres
After having spent most of his minor league career as an infielder, he was converted into an outfielder with the Hawaii Islanders of the Pacific Coast League in 1981. After batting .302 with 33 runs batted in, he received a September call-up. In his first season, he only got 14 at bats, but made the most of them, picking up five hits.
Wiggins split 1982 between the Islanders and Padres. He was busted for possession of cocaine just after the All-Star break, and underwent drug treatment. By the end of April 1983, he earned the lead-off spot in the Padres' batting order without earning a regular job on the field, as he split his playing time between the three outfield positions and first base. That year he proved much of the praise for him was correct, as he stole 66 bases, which was good for second in the league behind Tim Raines. Even though his job was to be fast and steal bases, his .276 batting average was also impressive. He picked up 139 hits that year.
Wiggins was converted back into a second baseman in 1984. With Wiggins again batting lead-off, and Tony Gwynn batting second, the Padres scored 93 first inning runs. Wiggins finished second in the league in runs scored with 106, and set the Padres' single season stolen base record with 70 to help lead the Padres to their first ever division championship. He batted .316 in the 1984 National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs, going two-for-three with two runs scored in the fifth and deciding game. In the 1984 World Series, Wiggins batted .364.
Wiggins was batting .054 two weeks into the 1985 season when he was suspended by the Padres following a relapse intococaine dependency. Upon completion of a drug rehabilitation program, he was never reactivated by the Padres, and was traded to the Baltimore Orioles on June 27 for pitcher Roy Lee Jackson and a player to be named later. Wiggins was plugged into the lead-off spot in the Orioles' line-up, where he batted .285, scored 43 runs and led the team with 30 stolen bases.
In 1986, Wiggins fell into disfavor with manager Earl Weaver, and found himself reassigned to the Triple-A Rochester Red Wingsat one point in the season. Wiggins batted .251 with 21 stolen bases and 30 runs scored, splitting playing time with Juan Bonillaat second base, for an Orioles team that finished in last place for the first time in franchise history.
The following season, Cal Ripken, Sr. replaced Weaver at the helm for the Orioles. Wiggins shared the second base assignment with Rick Burleson until Billy Ripken joined the club in July. From there, Wiggins assumed more of a utility role, pinch hitting,designated hitter, and occasionally spelling Ripken at second and Larry Sheets in left until he was released on September 29 with a .232 batting average.
Wiggins died in a hospital in his hometown of Los Angeles, on January 6, 1991, reportedly of complications due to AIDS. Most believe he fell victim to the disease through his drug problems. He is the first baseball player known to have died from AIDS.
His daughter, Candice Wiggins, is a star basketball player for the Minnesota Lynx of the WNBA. Before joining the Lynx as the third overall pick in the 2008 WNBA Draft, she had been an All-American performer at Stanford University. On January 31, 2008, in a game against USC, she scored 18 points to pass Kate Starbird as the all-time Stanford women's basketball scoring leader. His son, Alan Wiggins, Jr., is also playing professional basketball; he signed a one-year contract with German club Eisbären Bremerhaven in July 2007
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