© St. Petersburg Times, published October 28, 2002
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. -- Former major-leaguer Alex Cole, a St. Petersburg resident, was sentenced to 18 months in prison on federal drug charges.
Cole, an outfielder who played for five major-league teams, pleaded guilty in June to conspiring to possess with intent to distribute heroin. He was a member of the Bridgeport Bluefish, an independent team in the Atlantic League, when federal agents arrested him Aug. 9, 2001, as part of a drug sting.
Cole played with Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Colorado, Minnesota and Boston. A left-handed hitter, Cole had a career average of .280 with 148 stolen bases over seven seasons.
Cole started in centerfield for the Twins in the strike-shortened 1994 season, batting .296 with 68 runs scored and 29 stolen bases.
KINER TURNS 80: Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner returned to his native New Mexico to celebrate his 80th birthday.
Kiner, a six-time All-Star with Pirates, was invited to return to Silver City for his birthday by Susan Berry, director of the Silver City Museum.
Kiner went from the small copper-mining town to Cooperstown after a career that included two 50-plus homer seasons and seven straight NL home run titles.
Kiner has worked as a broadcaster and baseball executive. He still does 45 games a season for the Mets.
Kiner remembers little about his time in Silver City. His father died when he was 41/2, and he moved with his mother.
"There's a lot of great history here, and I've had a ball," he said. "I'd always wanted to come back here."