The 1986 New York Mets were known as much for their carousing as they were for winning the World Series.
The team had a lineup of talented but eminently free-spirited characters, such as Wally Backman, Kevin Elster, Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden, Keith Hernandez and Kevin Mitchell.
Let’s put it this way: If there was a way to maximize the status and pleasure of being a Major League Baseball player, these guys went looking for it = and usually found it.
Still, none may have looked at the world quite the way outfielder Lenny Dykstra did, and more than 30 years later he’s still finding his way into the middle of big, sloppy messes.
Dykstra is livid with former Mets teammate Ron Darling for claiming in his new book he shouted racial slurs at Boston Red Sox pitcher Dennis ‘Oil Can’ Boyd before stepping into the batter’s box to lead off the first inning of Game 3 of the 1986 World Series at Shea Stadium.
Darling, the former Yale star who is now an MLB broadcaster for the Mets, has a new book out called “108 Stitches: Loose Threads, Ripping Yarns, and the Darndest Characters from My Time in the Game,” that was released on Tuesday.
And as is customary when an author writes a tell-all book, the publishing house looks for snippets it can use to publicize it in the media. Apparently, it stumbled upon a pretty juicy one.
On ESPN Radio on Tuesday morning, Darling reiterated and confirmed the story he told about Dykstra.
The passage, in part, claims Dykstra was “shouting every imaginable and unimaginable insult and expletive in his [Boyd’s] direction — foul, racist, hateful, hurtful stuff” while he was in the on-deck circle preparing for his at-bat.
Ironically, Dykstra homered off Boyd in the at-bat.
Wrote Darling: The language was “worse than anything Jackie Robinson might have heard.”
Dykstra is aware of what the book says about him and, as you can imagine, he is livid about it.
“I was in disbelief,” said Dykstra on ESPN Radio. “For him to go so far and make statements that are so insane. … I don’t know where this is coming from. I know that he’s trying to sell books, be he crossed the line here and now he’s going to have to pay in more than one way. When you start (saying things) attacking racism comments, that’s laughable. It’s not even laughable. It’s serious and upsetting to me.”
When asked what he planned to do about it, Dykstra was direct.
“I’m going to sue him and the publisher,” Dykstra said. “I wrote a book myself. I had 30 lawyers calling me fact-checking everything. There is not one person to back this up, because you know why, it’s not true. It’s all a lie.”
And then Dykstra said he would “drop (Darling) like a red-headed f—ing stepchild” if he sees him.
What makes this all the more confusing it that Gooden and Mitchell also told ESPN Radio that they did not hear Dykstra say those things to Boyd.
“I was shocked to hear that this was said about Lenny,” said Gooden. “Lenny has had his problems, like we’ve all had. But I have known Lenny since 1982 and we played together in the minor leagues. And when he came to the Major Leagues, we lived together for a year. We’d stay up late, talking about baseball. I have never known Lenny to be that way. That’s why it shocked me to hear those comments about him. I’ve never seen that side of him. I know his family. His kids played with my kids.”
Gooden did admit it was possible he just didn’t hear the comments Darling has attributed to Dykstra.
“I heard what I heard and I put it in the book for a reason,” said Darling. “I do say, if you read the entire chapter, it’s really how ashamed about my complicitness in these kinds of things that happened in those times where that seemed like the right way to compete,” Darling said. “The right way to get on the opposition. The bench jockey could be anything that you wanted it to be.”
Darling said Dykstra’s comments make him feel uneasy.
“Those are uncomfortable. No one wants to be threatened,” Darling said. “I don’t think at this point I would say anything to Lenny Dykstra, not a thing after these threats.”
Dykstra claims none of his teammates got along with Darling, who he said he nicknamed, “Mr. P (perfect).”
“I know Darling might be a little pissed off because I nicknamed him Mr. P because he went to Yale and all that stuff,” said Dykstra. “But as far as what he said, that’s as low as it goes and it’s flat out lies. That’s the problem.”