The news of Dykstra’s bankruptcy got me looking for early signs of Lenny’s attitude toward money. On April 4, 1995, Nails held court before a Philadelphia Inquirer reporter:
“I flew back from Philly and went up on the roof of the parking lot and my car was gone,” Dykstra said of the recent theft of his $120,000 Mercedes from Tampa International Airport. “Some government kingpin down in South America is probably driving that thing right now.”
Dykstra pulled into the Jack Russell Stadium lot shortly before 9 a.m. driving a rather sedate, green four-wheel-drive vehicle.
“I’m thinking of getting a Porsche now,” he said, visions of the first installment from a $25 million contract dancing in his head. “Same country as my other one. Different label.”
Before he even reached his locker, Dykstra, who lost $800,000 to the strike last season and figures to drop another half-million for the 18 games that won’t be played this year, expressed concern about his next paycheck.
“When do we get paid? After the first game? I don’t know what’s going on,” he said. “No matter what happens, we’ve got to get a deal done. We’ve got to sit down and get it done. No one wants that uncertainty hanging over their heads again. But it’s nice to be back in a baseball locker room again.”
As for that steroids thing: Lee Thomas, the Phillies’ general manager in 1993, had this to say about that spring: “He came to spring training looking bigger and stronger. I said, ‘You’ve been working out.’ He said, ‘Yeah.’ I said, ‘I just hope you’re not doing anything that would hurt your health.’ He said, ‘Everything is cool.’ ”
Here’s Larry Anderson, back in 2005, on Lenny, steroids, and 1993: “I can’t comment on rumors. I can’t say he did or didn’t. I don’t know.”
And Phillies catcher Todd Pratt said: “I can’t comment on it because I don’t know anything about it.”
“I was a young kid back then. I didn’t hang out with them. I hardly knew those guys.”
Here’s John Kruk on Lenny: “If someone was using steroids on that team, they were awfully quiet about it. If someone was using steroids, they hid it really well. I never heard it spoken about and I never saw it.
“Let me tell you, we partied hard on that team. You’d have a couple drinks and, what’s that saying, ‘Loose lips sink ships’? You’d think someone might have said something if they were doing something, but nothing was ever brought up. And we talked about everything on that club. That’s how close we were. Nothing was ever brought up, and that tells me that nothing happened.
“If someone had been doing it, they’d have no reason to lie to me, and I wouldn’t lie about it now. What’s it, 12 years ago? It’s not like it’s going to ruin someone’s career.”
“One year he weighed next to nothing, and the next he was all bulked up. I heard reporters wondering what he was on, so I asked him. I said, ‘What did you do?’ He said, ‘I just worked hard.’ I believed him. I had no reason not to believe him. He’d never lied to me before, and I knew he was big into weight-lifting.
“You know, so many guys were getting big at that time from weights. When I first came in the league, I thought Jack Clark and Steve Garvey were big. Then all of sudden it seemed like everyone was that big. To me, Lenny was no different.”
As for the car crash Lenny Dykstra and Darren Daulton had early one May 1991 morning in Bryn Mawr, a Philly suburb, there doesn’t seem any point in reprinting the details or making elaborate comments on spoiled athletes and drunk driving, or baseball heroes having feet and sometimes brains of clay. Instead, here’s Alan Meersand, who represented Dykstra starting in 1983, talking about how Dykstra would respond to his drunk driving: “I knew Lenny when he was penniless. He’s really a misunderstood person. Few people know him.
“He has not changed much since the first day I met him. Most people don’t believe that based on what’s happened the last couple of months. He made a mistake on the gambling; he admitted it, was placed on probation by the commissioner and said it’s behind him. Now, he has to turn the page and put this behind. He’s going to campaign strongly against drinking and driving.”