Former New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Lenny Dykstra said that he hired private investigators to dig up dirt on umpires in order to pressure the umpires to call a smaller strike zone and consequently give him more walks.
In an interview Tuesday with Fox’s Colin Cowherd on “The Herd,” Dykstra revealed that in 1993, investigators were given a budget of $500,000 to turn up information on umpires that he could then use to strong-arm the umps into calling a more favorable strike zone for him.
“Their blood’s just as red as ours,” Dykstra said, as quoted in The New York Daily News. “Some of them like women, some of them like men, some of them gamble, some of them do whatever.”
He claimed in the interview that his blackmail attempts correlated closely with the fact that he led the National League in walks, hits and runs that season, in addition to finishing second to Barry Bonds for most valuable player and leading Philadelphia to the World Series.
“It wasn’t a coincidence, you think, [that] I led the league in walks the next few years, was it?” asked Dykstra, who signed a multiyear contract worth almost $25 million after the season. That deal made him baseball’s highest-paid leadoff batter.
“Fear does a lot to a man. … I had to do what I had to do to win and to support my family,” he said.
An MLB spokesman told the Daily News the sport will look into Dykstra’s claims.
Dykstra filed for bankruptcy six years ago, claiming he owed more than $31 million and had only $50,000 in assets. After the filing, Dykstra hid, sold or destroyed at least $200,000 worth of items without the permission of a bankruptcy trustee, prosecutors said.
Dykstra, 52, who had a 12-year career with the Mets and Phillies, was sentenced in 2012 to six-and-a-half months in prison for hiding baseball gloves and other heirlooms from his playing days, which were supposed to be part of his bankruptcy filing. He already had served seven months in custody awaiting sentencing. The prison term ran concurrently with a three-year sentence for pleading no contest to grand theft auto and providing a false financial statement.
He pleaded guilty in 2012 to one count each of bankruptcy fraud, concealment of assets and money laundering.