Former Oriole righthander Ken Dixon, who was released from the team in 1989 because he refused to take a drug test, is scheduled for a trial May 15 in connection with cocaine possession charges, a city police spokesman said.
Dixon, 30, was arrested about 1:30 a.m. Monday near City Hall when undercover police officers found two glassine bags of suspected cocaine on the floor boards of a BMW he was in and owned, police spokesman Dennis Hill said.
"My name should be cleared," Dixon said yesterday. "I'm not involved. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. I'm taking the heat because of my name. I'm on the phone trying to get this thing straightened out. It's going to be taken care of."
Dixon pitched for the Orioles from 1984 through 1987, going 26-28 with a 4.66 earned run average. He was traded to Seattle for pitcher Mike Morgan in December 1987 but never pitched again in the majors. The Orioles re-signed him in 1989 but then released him from their Double A team in Hagerstown, saying he didn't comply with the minor-league drug prevention and testing program.
Orioles assistant general manager Doug Melvin said Dixon was offered the services of the club's Employee Assistance Program director, Lem Burnham, after being released. Melvin would not disclose whether Dixon accepted help at that time.
Dixon, a native of Monroe, Va., came up through the Orioles' farm system with a reputation as a power pitcher with unlimited potential. "Ken had as fine an arm as you'd want to see," Hank Peters said yesterday. Peters, Orioles general manager from 1975-1987, is now president of the Cleveland Indians.
"He had his problems over the years," Peters said. "I hope it's not serious, but on the other hand I know sometimes guys get desperate."
Police said Dixon, of the first block of Clinton Hill Court in Middle River, and William High, 31, of the 6700 block of Townbrook Drive, were arrested and charged with possession of cocaine. They were released on their own recognizance, Hill said.
Officers were watching for drug trafficking at Fayette and Holliday streets when they decided to approach the BMW with Virginia tags.
After questioning Dixon and High, the officers asked if they could search the car and once they got the go-ahead, they observed two bags, one with a white powdery substance believed to be cocaine, and another with white residue, on the floor.
Police originally said Dixon was outside the car when they spotted what looked liked a drug transaction.
Dixon's attorney, Glenn Solomon, said Dixon and High had just left a friend's house where they were playing chess. He said a police officer initially approached them because they were illegally parked.
"He asked [High] to get out of the car," Solomon said. "One of the officers noticed a bag on the floor, on the passenger's side. Mr. Dixon had no idea the alleged bag of cocaine was in the car."
Solomon said Dixon now owns a janitorial cleaning business. He tried out for the St. Louis Cardinals, Philadelphia Phillies and two other teams this spring. "Mr. Dixon disavows that he has any drug problem," Solomon said.