It’s a wild tale of a baseball player who had the world at his fingertips, only to now find himself in federal prison.
Two-time All-Star pitcher Esteban Loaiza spent his 14-year MLB career across eight teams, including 2006-07 with the A’s. He signed with the team on a three-year, $21.4 million contract after the 2005 season. He finished his campaign with Oakland hosting a 4.62 ERA and 1.376 WHIP.
It was around this time that he was arrested after clocking over 120 mph in his Ferrari on an Oakland-area freeway.
He would be convicted of reckless driving and was given a three-year probationary sentence.
This was where it appeared the player filled with so much promise took a turn, as was detailed in an incredible piece by Bleacher Report's Scott Miller.
"He was just a knucklehead guy with some decent stuff upon occasion," longtime Oakland radio broadcaster Vince Cotroneo told Bleacher Report. Cotroneo also called Texas Rangers games when Loaiza was there. "He wasn't a bad guy. He was always helpful for what we needed to do. He was a little quirky, but you can say that with a lot of people.
"I went to Oakland and so did he in '06,” Cotroneo added. “This was the Lamborghini-driving, Maserati-driving, DUI Loaiza that we got. The paint was starting to dry. You were starting to capture the full portrait of the guy. When he got to Oakland, it got stranger."
Fast forward to 2018, and Loaiza would be detained by sheriff’s detectives in the San Diego area several miles north of the Mexican border. Loaiza had been under surveillance for a while in a federal narcotics investigation. And while law enforcement didn’t find anything in his Mercedes-Benz SUV that day, they did discover a note in the garage door opener that had an address written on it.
That address led them to a nearby townhouse that possessed a minivan which held 44 pounds of cocaine hidden in the rear floor panels underneath baseball bags.
Watch: Former All-Star pitcher Esteban Loaiza appears in a U.S. court and pleaded not guilty to drug charges involving 44 pounds of suspected cocaine. https://t.co/w6DyTQ8g4D pic.twitter.com/3h5ILay21y— NBC 7 San Diego (@nbcsandiego) February 14, 2018
He ultimately was sentenced to 36 months in prison on March 8, 2019.
Loaiza was with the White Sox at one point in his career, where he was dubbed a hero of sorts. He made his last public appearance at the team's Fan Fest in 2018 just two weeks before his arrest.