Hours after being arrested near City Hall on a drug-possession charge, former Baltimore Orioles pitcher Ken Dixon yesterday said the alleged drugs weren't his and blamed the incident on a friend who was riding in his car when the two men were arrested.
"There was a guy in the car -- he had the stuff," Dixon said. "I got arrested because it was in my car. That's the bottom line. I told [police] I wasn't aware it was there. But they said: 'It's your car. You have to be responsible for what's in your car.' "
According to police, Dixon, 30, and William High of Baltimore werearrested yesterday about 1:30 a.m. after they were observed sitting in Dixon's BMW, which was parked at the corner of Holliday and Fayette streets. Dixon was sitting in the driver's seat, according to police, who said they found two plastic bags on the floor of the car, one containing suspected cocaine, the other a white powdery residue.
Dixon and High, 31, were charged with misdemeanor possession of cocaine, police said. Both were released on their own recognizance. Their trials were set for May 15.
A woman answering the phone at High's home last night said he wasn't home.
Dixon hasn't pitched in the big leagues since 1987, though he briefly made a comeback with the Orioles in 1989. He was with the team in spring training that year, and was pitching for the Orioles' Class AA Hagerstown team when the organization released him on May 15, 1989, citing his failure to comply with the Orioles' minor-league drug-testing program.
At the time, the Orioles would neither confirm nor deny whether Dixon had failed a drug test. Yesterday, Doug Melvin, Orioles director of player personnel, declined to go further, saying: "A certain amount of confidence is needed to make the program effective. . . . You have to read into the rest."
Dixon, who lives in Middle River, said he was coming from "another friend's house," where he had watched TV and "played some chess" when the arrests occurred. He said he had "just pulled over" to the corner near City Hall.
Dixon was angered by first reports of the arrest given by police, which were used by newspapers and local TV and radio stations. Those accounts said that Dixon was standing on the street with several others when the arrests were made, that all other suspects had fled and that the alleged drugs were found on Dixon -- all contradicted by a later report.
"This is ticking me off -- obviously, somewhere along the line they have distorted," Dixon said.
"I let them search me all over. I had no idea they would find anything, and they didn't find anything on me. I want to get my name cleared on this. I have gone through a lot of stuff the last couple of years. Then they drag my name through the mud, saying I'm responsible for anything that happens."
Dixon didn't want to discuss High or discuss other details of the case. "People are jumping the gun. It seems like witch-hunt material to me," he said.
Police spokesman Dennis Hill confirmed that mistakes were made in the early reports -- calling that "highly unusual."
"It's the second time I have made a major change in a story in 21 years," Hill said.
Hill said he received the erroneous information yesterday morning from a major at the Central District Police Station and didn't know it was inaccurate until a written report was available at 4 p.m.
Shortly after that, Hill said he got a call from an angry Dixon.
"I told him I would call [reporters] and make sure the correct information was given out, but he didn't seem satisfied with that, which isunderstandable," Hill said. "I've given out information in good faith for 21 years. I am as upset as he is."
Dixon was picked by the Orioles in the third round of the June 1980 draft. He made his major-league debut in 1984, and had a major-league record of 26-28 with a 4.66 earned run average.
Yesterday, Dixon declined to discuss what he has been doing since his release by the Orioles.
Roger Twigg of The Sun's metropolitan staff contributed to this article.