Lenny Dykstra was an excellent ballplayer for the Mets, a clutch hitter who shined in the postseason. However, from all accounts, he is a nasty person. But is he a racist? He was essentially labeled as such by New York Supreme Court Judge Robert Kalish in a recent case brought by Dykstra and his legal team against ex-teammate and current broadcaster, Ron Darling, for libel.
In his 2019 book, “108 Stitches,” Darling had asserted that Dykstra had verbally harassed Red Sox starter Dennis Boyd with racial epithets as he warmed up prior to game three of the 1986 World Series. Darling had bombarded Boyd with “foul, racist, hateful stuff” according to Darlings’ book.
Kalish ruled for Darling, stating that “Dykstra was infamous for being, among other things, racist, misogynist, and anti-gay.” He specifically cited Dykstras’ own book, “House of Nails,” published in 2016. He further ruled that Dykstras’ “reputation for unsportsmanlike conduct and bigotry is already so tarnished that it cannot be further injured.” Based on this, the Judge dismissed Dykstras’ case without examining the facts of the incident in question.
In a sense, the judge took the easy way out. By using the concept of Dykstras’ reputation being so bad that it couldn’t get worse, the judge did not have to determine the veracity of the alleged incident in 1986.
There were plenty of witnesses around as Boyd warmed up that day, and yet no one has come forward to corroborate Darlings’ accusation. Mets such as Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden, Keith Hernandez and Kevin Mitchell have said they don’t remember hearing anything like the vile language Dykstra is alleged to have shouted to Boyd. Even Boyd himself says he doesn’t remember hearing anything that was out of line that day.
Perhaps the judge issued his ruling on a procedural basis (the reputation is so bad it couldn’t get worse) because he was afraid he might have to rule against Darling.
There are numerous incidents that demonstrate that Dykstra is a handful. There is that 1991 DUI conviction stemming from an automobile accident that resulted in serious injuries to Dykstra and some of his Phillies teammates. There were jail sentences for Dykstra in 2012 stemming from an indecent exposure conviction, a drug conviction, a bankruptcy fraud conviction, even a grand theft auto conviction for a scam aimed at car dealers. Dykstra has also admitted he was a steroid user, and even blackmailed, or tried to blackmail, some umpires into giving him a very tight strike zone. There were numerous other scrapes with either the law or common decency, but nothing noticeably racial in nature.
In applying the racist tag to Dykstra, Judge Kalish referred to Dykstra’s book. I did not actually read the “House of Nails” book, for several reasons including the fact that I was not particularly interested in enriching Dykstra by buying it. I did scan various reviews and comments concerning the book, and I found that Dykstra referred to black teammate Mookie Wilson as having bad breath. That seems to be it, and one would have to have an extremely broad definition of racism for that to be considered racist. Again I did not read the book, but surely any major racist action would have come out in the reviews.
So it’s clear that Dykstra is a major jerk who seems to go out of his way to offend people, but it also seems that he is an equal opportunity jerk who manages to offend lots of people of