The tragic loss of Los Angeles Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs has affected baseball players and fans across Major League Baseball since his premature death in July. Recently, however, new information regarding his death has surfaced.
Skaggs was found unresponsive, just three days after his last outing, in his Texas hotel on July 1st early in the day. The LA Coroner’s toxicology report showed the Angel’s pitcher had overdosed on a lethal combination of oxycodone, fentanyl, and alcohol. MLB teams paid tribute to the ace pitcher with #45 patches and field decorations through the All-Star Break.
Skaggs’ family hired Attorney Rustin Hardin to investigate the circumstances surrounding his death. The investigation brought shocking information to the forefront of baseball news. Eric Kay, a PR manager for the Angels, had reportedly been supplying Skaggs with oxycodone, a pain killer, for years. Kay claimed that Skaggs had been using and abusing the drug during his pitching career despite MLB’s ban on such drugs. He further explained that Skaggs would purchase the drugs for the two of them to use and produced text messages to corroborate his story.
Kay alleged that the Angels’ Vice President of Communication, Tim Mead, knew of Skaggs’ drug use, although Mead has denied those allegations. Kay’s admission to supplying Skaggs with illegal narcotics will likely lead to him facing criminal charges.
Skaggs’ team could potentially face charges as well. Since his death occurred during a work trip, which he would not otherwise be on if not for his job as a pitcher, the Angels are implicated in his death.
The Angels released a statement saying that “[They] maintain a strict, zero tolerance policy regarding the illicit use of drugs for both players and staff.” They explained to reporters and those concerned with Skaggs’ death that they could not have monitored Skaggs or his relationships with employees.
MLB does conduct random drug tests, but it is impossible to test every major league player. They are also not able to test players for drugs unless they have reasonable cause. Since no one on the team had reason to believe Skaggs was using drugs, he was not tested. However, in light of his death, Tony Clark, the executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association said, “It is appropriate and important to reexamine all of our drug protocols relating to education, treatment and prevention.”
Despite the emotional distress of the loss of Tyler Skaggs to his family, to the Angels, and to the sports world, perhaps his death will lead to a renewed effort to rid baseball and all professional sports of the scourge that is drug abuse.