Lenny Dykstra was a star, if not a superstar, base ball player from the mid eighties to the mid nineties. He was classed as an outfielder or centerfielder, but he earned his star status because of his batting performance. His star status was earned early in his major league career as he helped his team, the New York Mets, win the World Series in 1986, the second year Dykstra was on the team.
Dykstra was born on February 10, 1963 in Santa Ana, California. Dykstra showed early promise as a baseball star, and was drafted by the New York Mets as a 13th round draft pick in 1981, when Dykstra was only 18 years old. Dykstra apparently decided to pass up an opportunity to hone his base ball skills in college, and instead joined one of the New York Mets farm teams.
Dykstra quickly became a star in the minor leagues. In 1983, he led the Carolina League in at-bats, runs, hits, triples, batting average, and stolen bases with 105, beating a league record which had stood for 17 years. As a result he was named the Carolina Most Valuable Player [MVP]. In the year he became a minor league star, Dykstra was only 20 years old.
In 1985, Dykstra was considered to be ready for the major leagues. When the New York Mets’ starting center fielder, Wilson, was injured and moved to the disabled list, Dykstra took his place. In no small measure due to Dykstra’s play in that year, the New York Mets narrowly missed on winning the National League crown that year.
In Dykstra’s second year with the New York Mets, in 1986, the team would win the division crown, easily outplaying the second place Philadelphia Phillies. The Mets would eventually, in 1986, go on to the World Series, after beating the National League West Champions, the Houston Oilers. The other World Series contender was the Boston Red Sox. After the Mets lost the first two games against the Red Sox, it was Dykstra’s home run early in game three that provided the spark for the Mets to go on and win the World Series that year. The World Series in that year, in no small measure due to Dykstra’s play, were considered to be the most memorable of all time.
In 1989, the Mets traded Dykstra to the Philadelphia Phillies in a surprise trade. The trade was apparently consummated because off the field, Dykstra was considered a liability through his behavior as a heavy drinker and a partier. To what extent that was true is of course debatable, but Dykstra did have several run-ins with the law regarding his off-the- field behavior.
During his first two years in Philadelphia, Dykstra had two good years. Also in 1993, Dykstra helped Philadelphia to make it to the World Series against the Toronto Blue Jays, but the Phillies were unable to win the series in that year. Dykstra was plagued by injuries during the remainder of his career. He last played in the 1996 season, and attempted to make a comeback in the 1998 season. But he was eliminated before the end of training camp. Since 1996 was Dykstra’s last year as a player, he officially had retired at the rather young age of 33. He had had, however, a thirteen year career in the majors and another two solid years in the minors.
Dykstra’s official entry into the majors, with the New York Mets, was on May 3, 1985, and his final game in the majors, with the Philadelphia Phillies, was on May 18, 1996. During his major league career, Dykstra had been selected as an All Star in 1990, 1994 and 1995. In 1993 he was awarded the Silver Slugger Award. Dykstra was the National League [NL] Hits Leader in 1990 and 1993, the NL on-base Percentage Leader in 1990, the NL at Bats Leader in 1993, the NL Runs Leader in 1993, the NL Base on Balls Leader in 1993, and the NL Times on Base Leader in 1990 and 1993.
During his baseball career Dykstra has done well financially. Although he was paid a relatively minimal amount during the year he helped the New York Mets win the World Series, he has done quite well during the remainder of his career. In 1986, the Mets World Series year, Dykstra’s salary was only $92,500. Even the following year, in 1987, his salary had only risen to $202,500, and in 1988 it only amounted to $305,000. His salary rose to $575,000 in 1989, and in 1990, his salary with the Philadelphia Phillies was still only $700,000. However, during the last six years with the Phillies, Dykstra’s salary grew rapidly from $2.2 million in 1991 to $6.2 million in 1996, the last year of his major league career.
Following his retirement, Dykstra has remained active in a number of businesses. He apparently still loves the game of baseball, and has recently been in the news because of his interest to return to baseball as a possible coach or manager.
Lenny Dykstra, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lenny_Dykstra
Lenny Dykstra Stats, http://www.baseball-almanac.com/players/player.php?p=dykstle01
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