February 10, 1963 |
Santa Ana, California
|Batted: Left||Threw: Left|
|May 3, 1985 for the New York Mets|
|Last MLB appearance|
|May 18, 1996 for the Philadelphia Phillies|
|Runs batted in||404|
|Career highlights and awards|
Leonard Kyle Dykstra (//; born February 10, 1963), nicknamed "Nails" and "Dude", is a former Major League Baseball center fielder and convicted felon. Dykstra played for the New York Mets during the mid-to-late 1980s and the Philadelphia Phillies in the early-to-mid-1990s.
New York Mets
The Mets signed Dykstra as a 13th round draft pick in 1981. A star in the minors, in 1983 he led the Carolina League in at-bats, runs, hits, triples, batting average and stolen bases (with 105, a league record for 17 years). That season, he hit .358 with 8 HR, 81 RBI, the above-cited 105 stolen bases, 107 walks but only 35 strikeouts. He was consequently named the Carolina League's MVP, and soon emerged as one of the Mets' prized prospects. While playing in Double-A in 1984 he befriended fellow outfielder and teammate Billy Beane, who later said that Dykstra was "perfectly designed, emotionally" to play baseball and that he had "no concept of failure." According to Beane, his first comments on seeing Hall-of-Fame pitcher Steve Carlton warming up were, "Shit, I'll stick him."
In 1985 Dykstra, deemed ready for the major leagues, was promoted to the Mets when the team's starting center fielder, Mookie Wilson, was placed on the disabled list. The rookie's play and energy were a big boost to a Mets team that surged to a 98-win season and narrowly missed out on the NL East crown. The following season, Dykstra was first intended to be platooned in center field with Wilson, but when Mookie suffered a severe eye injury during spring training Dykstra took over the position as outright starter and leadoff hitter. Later that season, the Mets released left fielder George Foster and moved Wilson to left. Mets fans soon nicknamed Dykstra "Nails" for his hard-nosed personality and fearless play. In 1986, he even posed shirtless for a "beefcake" poster under the "Nails" nickname. Moreover, Dykstra and #2 hitter Wally Backman were termed "the Wild Boys" for their scrappy play as spark plugs for the star-studded Met lineup.
With Dykstra as leadoff hitter, the 1986 Mets coasted to the division crown, outlasting the second-place Philadelphia Phillies by 21.5 games en route to a 108–54 season. The Mets ended up in the World Series after a hard-fought victory over the NL West champion Houston Astros in the 1986 NLCS, 4 games to 2. Dykstra will forever be remembered for his walk-off home run in Game 3, which is considered one of the biggest hits in Mets franchise history and the defining moment of Dykstra's career. He hit .304 in the 1986 NLCS, and then .296 in the World Series against the Boston Red Sox. But his leadoff home run in Game 3 at Fenway Park sparked the Mets, who had fallen behind 2 games to none even though those games were played at Shea Stadium. The home run made him the third Met in team history (along with Tommie Agee and Wayne Garrett, both of whose home runs also came in a Game 3, in the 1969 and 1973 World Series respectively) to hit a leadoff home run in the World Series. Following Dykstra's home run, the Mets rallied to defeat the Red Sox in seven games in one of the most memorable World Series of all time.
Dykstra continued to play in a platoon with Wilson. In the 1988 NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers, he continued his postseason success by hitting .429 in a losing effort. But the Mets traded him to the Phillies on June 18, 1989 with pitcher Roger McDowell and minor-leaguer Tom Edens for second baseman Juan Samuel. Teammate Keith Hernandez later characterized Dykstra, in his book Pure Baseball, as being "on the wild and crazy side", which he cites as one of the reasons the Mets chose to trade him and the Phillies chose to acquire him.
Dykstra was initially upset over the trade since he enjoyed playing in New York, but Philly fans loved him and he soon became a fan favorite there as well. (According to former general manager Frank Cashen, the Phillies offered Dykstra back to the Mets after the 1989 season, but the Mets refused.) He was known for his trademark cheek full of tobacco and hard-nosed play. With the Phillies, Dykstra's career was marked by incredible highs and lows. In 1990, he started the All Star Game, led the league in hits and finished fourth in batting average, hitting over .400 as late as June.
Dykstra's next two seasons were marred by injury. In 1991, while driving drunk, he crashed his car into a tree on Darby-Paoli Road in Radnor Township, Delaware County, Pennsylvania. Teammate Darren Daulton, his passenger, was also injured. Dykstra suffered fractured ribs, a broken cheekbone and a fractured collarbone, and lost two months of playing time. In late August he re-broke his collarbone in Cincinnati running into the outfield wall and missed the rest of the season.
But in 1993, it all seemed to come together again for Dykstra and the Phillies. The team, which had been rebuilding since its last playoff appearance ten years before, when they won the 1983 pennant but lost the World Series to Baltimore, returned to the top of the National League East and won the pennant again. He played in 161 games, setting a major league record with 773 plate appearances. Despite being overlooked for the 1993 All-Star team he led the league in runs, hits, walks and at-bats, and was runner-up to the Giants' Barry Bonds in voting for NL Most Valuable Player. He led the Phillies into the World Series, which they lost to the AL champion Toronto Blue Jays in six games. In the series, Dykstra batted .348 and hit four home runs, including two in a memorably futile 15–14 loss at home in Game 4.
Injuries plagued Dykstra for the rest of his career. He last played in 1996, although he launched one final comeback attempt in spring training of 1998 before retiring at the age of 35. He first ran a car wash in Simi Valley, California, but sold it in 2007.
Dykstra was sued in relation to the car wash in 2005. The lawsuit, filed by former business partner Lindsay Jones, alleged that Dykstra used steroids and told Jones to place bets on Phillies games in 1993, when Dykstra was on that pennant-winning team. He denied those allegations, but others arose when he was cited in retrospect as a steroid-user during his playing career.
In the meantime, Dykstra managed a stock portfolio and served as president of several privately held companies, including car washes; a partnership with Castrol in "Team Dykstra" Quick Lube Centers; a ConocoPhillips fueling facility; a real estate development company; and a venture to develop several "I Sold It on eBay" stores in populous areas of Southern California. He also appeared on Fox News Channel's The Cost of Freedom business show, and his stock-picking skills were even mentioned by Jim Cramer, who had Dykstra write an investing column for TheStreet.
Dykstra then purchased NHL superstar Wayne Gretzky's $17 million estate (built at a cost of $14,999,999) hoping to flip it, but was unsuccessful. At one point he owed more than $13 million on the house, and Lake Sherwood security guards were eventually told to keep him away from the property because he had stripped the house of over $51,000 worth of items (countertops, an oven and hardwood flooring) and allowed the homeowners' insurance policy on the property to lapse. The house was eventually sold in January 2011 for "an undisclosed amount". Jeff Smith, the second lien holder on the former Gretzky mansion, said the property was listed on the market for $10.5 million, and sources interviewed by CNBC said that Smith "did very well" with the sale.
In 2000, Dykstra and other members of the 1986 Met World Championship team threw out the ceremonial first pitch before Game 5 of the World Series at Shea Stadium against the New York Yankees. In 2002, Dykstra made another much-anticipated return to New York after being elected to the Mets' 40th Anniversary All-Amazin' Team.
He returned to Shea in 2006 for the Mets' twentieth-anniversary celebration of their 1986 World Championship. He then voiced a greater desire to get back into baseball, and his name was mentioned as a possible Met coach or even manager. He also served as part-time instructor at the Mets' spring training camp in Port St. Lucie.
He came back to Flushing for the last time on September 28, 2008 for the Farewell to Shea Stadium ceremony held after the final game of that season.
In May 2011, Dykstra was sentenced to house arrest after a bankruptcy fraud indictment. Under the terms of his plea agreement, he had been allowed to leave the house only to go to work, attend church or be mandatorily drug-tested. Since his June 10 hearing for drug possession and grand theft auto, he had been jailed awaiting trial for inability to post $500,000 bail. He was also appointed a public defender. On October 19, he pleaded no contest to three grand theft auto charges and one count of filing a false financial report. Sentencing, originally set for January 20, 2012, was deferred pending completion of a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program. He was finally sentenced to 3 years in prison on March 5, 2012.
Dykstra's son Cutter Dykstra was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the second round of the 2008 Major League Baseball Draft, and currently plays for the Washington Nationals Class Advanced A team (Potomac Nationals, 2013 Carolina League Northern). Through Cutter's relationship with actress Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Dykstra has one grandson, Beau Kyle Dykstra, born in August 2013.
Another son, Luke Dykstra, is an up-and-coming draft prospect that recently was named an Under Armour All-American playing at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois on August 24, 2013. The elder Dykstra's uncles Pete, Jack and Tony Leswick played in the National Hockey League.
Business affairs and bankruptcy
In September 2008, Dykstra began a high-end jet charter company and magazine marketed to professional athletes known as the Player's Club, LLC. The magazine was part of a business plan to offer financial advice to professional athletes, according to a profile article in the New Yorker magazine, Dykstra had a website entitled "Nails Investments"  to impart information about his investment ideas.
In early 2009, stories and evidence began to emerge indicating that Dykstra's financial empire was in a tailspin. A GQ article by Kevin P. Coughlin, a former photo editor for the New York Post, detailed Coughlin's 67-day employment with Dykstra producing The Players Club, a magazine geared toward athletes and their expensive lifestyles. It portrayed Dykstra in an unflattering light, as Coughlin detailed incidents and accused Dykstra of credit card fraud, failure to pay rent on the magazine's Park Avenue offices or for bounced checks, lawsuits and printing costs.
An extensive article about an ESPN.com investigation in April 2009 went into greater detail, asserting that Dykstra has been the subject of at least two dozen legal actions since 2007.
In July 2009, Dykstra, whose net worth was estimated at $58 million in 2008, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, listing less than $50,000 in assets against $10 million to $50 million in liabilities. He claimed to be a victim of mortgage fraud after having lost the house purchased for $17.5 million from Wayne Gretzky to foreclosure, in the Sherwood Country Club development in Thousand Oaks, California. 
According to the July 7, 2009 petition in the Bankruptcy Court for the Central District of California  Dykstra's debts and creditors include $12.9mm to Washington Mutual (unsecured), $4 mm to Countrywide Financial /Bank of America (unsecured), $3.5mm to Rockridge Bank of Atlanta, $2.5mm to David and Teresa Litt, $1.5mm to K&L Gates (a large law firm), and smaller amounts to others.
In August 2009, Dykstra was living out of his car and in hotel lobbies. The estate purchased from Gretzky was riddled with water damage, torn-up flooring, missing toilets, and other major damage. His second house, also in the Sherwood development, was uninhabitable due to toxic mold. A dispute with his insurance carrier over reimbursement for the necessary repairs. Fireman's Fund provided Mr. and Mrs. Dykstra with a temporary residence pending resolution of the outstanding claim. According to papers filed in court, one of the houses in question was in "unshowable" condition as "the home was littered throughout with empty beer bottles, trash, dog feces and urine and other unmentionables." Raw sewage had been leaking inside the house and electrical wiring had been damaged or removed by vandals.
On Sept. 13, 2009, it was announced that Dykstra's 1986 New York Mets World Series championship ring and trophy would be sold off. Auctioneers planned to sell a trove of memorabilia the former All-Star had left unclaimed at a pawnshop in Beverly Hills. Each could sell for $20,000 or more.
In June 2010, a court-appointed federal trustee in Dykstra's bankruptcy case charged he had lied under oath, improperly hidden and sold assets and repeatedly acted "in a fraudulent and deceitful manner" during his ongoing bankruptcy case. The trustee accordingly asked the bankruptcy court to deny Dykstra's request for a bankruptcy discharge.
On April 13, 2011, Dykstra was arrested for investigation of grand theft by Los Angeles police at his Encino home on suspicion of trying to buy a stolen car, the day after Dykstra, in an unrelated federal complaint, had been charged with embezzling from a bankruptcy estate. He faced up to five years in federal prison if convicted. Federal prosecutors contended that after filing for bankruptcy Dykstra hid, sold or destroyed more than $400,000 worth of items from the $18.5 million mansion in question without permission of a bankruptcy trustee. The items allegedly ranged from sports memorabilia to a $50,000 sink. At one point, he sold “a truckload of furnishing and fixtures” for cash at a consignment store, according to a statement from the U.S. attorney’s office.
On June 13, 2011, Dykstra appeared in Federal bankruptcy court and pled not guilty to thirteen charges. He was represented by a public defender. Dykstra faced up to 80 years in prison if convicted of all charges relating to embezzlement, obstruction of justice, bankruptcy fraud, making false statements to bankruptcy court, and concealing property from the bankruptcy court. The bankruptcy fraud trial was set to start on June 5, 2012.
On July 13, 2012, Dykstra pleaded guilty in federal court to three felonies: one count each of bankruptcy fraud, concealment of assets and money laundering. He admitted to hiding, selling or destroying over $400,000 worth of items that were supposed to be part of his bankruptcy filing.
On Dec. 3, 2012, he was sentenced to 6.5 months in prison and 500 hours of community service, and ordered to pay $200,000 in restitution.
On June 21, 2013, Dykstra was released from prison.
At approximately 1 AM on May 7, 1991, Dykstra crashed his red Mercedes-Benz SL 500 into a tree on Darby-Paoli Road in Radnor Township, Pennsylvania after attending the bachelor party of teammate John Kruk. Dykstra suffered broken ribs, a broken collarbone and a broken facial bone, in addition to second-degree burns on his left arm and lower back. Darren Daulton, also a former teammate, was a passenger in the car at the time; his injuries included an injured eye and a broken facial bone. According to Radnor Township Police, Dykstra's blood alcohol content was measured at 0.179% shortly after the crash.
In March 2009, press reports alleged that Dykstra's businesses were facing financial ruin and that he had used offensive terms when speaking about blacks, women and homosexuals.
In September 2009, he was banned from both of his foreclosed multi-million dollar properties in Lake Sherwood, from which security officers were instructed to deny him access. He was accused of vandalizing the properties and not maintaining homeowners' insurance on them, and the court assigned a trustee to manage them.
In December 2010, Dykstra was accused of hiring a female escort and then writing her a bad $1,000 check: adult film star and escort Monica Foster claimed he had hired her on December 13, 2010 and then wrote her a check that bounced. Monica Foster later posted a copy of the bounced check on her blog.
In January 2011, Dykstra was accused of sexual assault by his housekeeper, who alleged that he would force her to give him oral sex on Saturdays. The woman told investigators "she needed the job and the money, so she went along with the suspect’s requests rather than lose her job,” according to the filing, and “returned to work in the suspect’s home with knowledge obtained from the Internet about a claim of sexual assault by another woman.”
On April 14, 2011, Dykstra was arrested and charged with bankruptcy fraud. The Los Angeles Police Department Commercial Crimes Division also arrested Dykstra on separate grand theft charges related to the purchase of vehicles. He was held on $500,000 bail.
On June 6, 2011, Dykstra was arrested and charged with 25 misdemeanor and felony counts of grand theft auto, identity theft, filing false financial statements and possession of cocaine, ecstasy and the human growth hormone (HGH) known as Somatropin. He first pled not guilty to the charges, but later changed his plea to no contest to grand theft auto and providing false financial statements in exchange for dropping the drug charges. On March 5, 2012, after unsuccessfully trying to withdraw his nolo-contendere plea, he was sentenced to three years in state prison, receiving nearly a year's credit for time already served.
On August 25, 2011, Dykstra was charged with indecent exposure. The Los Angeles City Attorney accused him of placing ads on Craigslist requesting a personal assistant or housekeeping services. The victims alleged that when they arrived, they were informed that the job also required massage service. Dykstra would then disrobe and expose himself.
Conviction and sentencing
On March 5, 2012, Dykstra was sentenced to three years in prison following the above-cited no-contest pleas to charges of grand theft auto and filing a false financial statement, in Los Angeles County Superior Court. According to court records and press reports, Dykstra and confederates had obtained automobiles from various car dealerships using falsified bank statements and stolen identities.
Dykstra was named in the Mitchell Report on steroid use in Major League Baseball on December 13, 2007. The report cited multiple sources, including Kirk Radomski, as stating that Dykstra had used anabolic steroids during his MLB career. It also stated that the Commissioner of Baseball's office had known about Dykstra's steroid use since 2000. Dykstra did not agree to meet with the Mitchell investigators to discuss the allegations.
In Randall Lane's book called "The Zeroes" Dykstra admitted to Lane, editor of Trader Monthly in his hotel room that he used steroids to perform better than those he felt might replace him; otherwise, his $25 million would be "on the line."
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- Graves, Gary (October 27, 2000). "Mets invoke grit of 1986 champs". USA Today. "Lenny Dykstra joined former teammates Gary Carter, Keith Hernandez, Ron Darling and current Mets first-base coach Mookie Wilson in the pregame ceremony prior to Thursday night's Game 5"
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