Tagged out

Nov 13, 2002 at 12:00 am

Hardcore Detroit Tigers fans might remember a southpaw pitcher by the name of Kevin Wickander, who spent some time with the club during the ’95 season. The Arizona native is again achieving notoriety, but these days it’s for the consequences of addiction to speed rather than his ability to throw a fastball.

Wickander’s rise to the big leagues and subsequent fall from grace is chronicled in a gripping story by reporter Paul Rubin in a recent edition of Phoenix New Times. Rubin recounts how Wickander first got hooked on amphetamines known as “white crosses” while pitching for the Cleveland Indians during the early ’90s. “There were cases of the stuff around every big league clubhouse I ever was in,” Wickander told Rubin. He also described a specially brewed clubhouse coffee for game days that provided just a bit more pick-up than, say, Gatorade.

“They called it The Mud,” recalled Wickander. “It was like syrup, molasses, because it had a ton of white crosses ground into it. You drink two or three little cups and, wham.”

The Cleveland Indians, by the way, denied knowledge of any such concoction.

Wickander didn’t last long in baseball after being traded from the Tigers. He eventually switched from white crosses to methedrine and, to quote singer John Prine, he “took to stealing when he got that empty feeling.” Along the way, he lost his family, his home, his job. Already on probation for felony drug possession, he was sentenced in September to prison for theft of a computer and other property. Instead of throwing them high and inside, for the next four years, at least, he will remain locked inside and no longer high.

Fans can catch the tale online, http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/issues/2002-11-07/feature.html/1/index.htm.

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