Lenny Dykstra career timeline
A timeline of Lenny Dykstra's dramatic -- and ultimately tragic -- baseball and post-MLB career.
Compiled by Jim Baumbach
Mistaken for batboy at Mets’ pre-draft workout. Tells Mets scouting director Joe McIllvaine that he’s the best player there.
Drafted by Mets in 13th round.
May 3, 1985
Homers in second at-bat in debut with Mets
March 5, 1986
Anointed Mets’ starting centerfielder after Mookie Wilson injures eye in freak spring training accident.
Oct. 11, 1986
Hits dramatic home run to give Mets 6-5 win over Astros in Game 3 of NLCS.
Oct. 21, 1986
Hits leadoff home run at Fenway in Game 3 of World Series.
July 7, 1987
Publicly expresses his disappointment over sharing centerfield with Mookie Wilson. “I don't want to be traded,” he said. “I want to play in New York, and I stress the word play.”
Feb. 23, 1988
Shows up at spring training saying he put on 15-17 pounds of muscle because he never forgot that Fred Lynn told him in high school “it’s a strong man’s game.”
A report in the Palm Beach Post, years later, reveals that during this spring training Dykstra had three of four traffic tickets voided after he almost struck a school crossing guard.
Reiterated his unhappiness about not playing everyday.
Dykstra says he asks for a trade “all the time, whenever I get a chance.”
June 18, 1989
In what amounts to one of the worst trades in franchise history, Mets send Dykstra and Roger McDowell to Philadelphia Phillies for Juan Samuel.
Shows up for his first spring training with the Phillies saying he had gained 25 pounds through better diet, lifting weights and “the good type of vitamins.”
July 5, 1990
Named to the National League All-Star team for the first time in his career.
August 30, 1990
Signs a three-year extension with the Phillies worth 7.3 million with an option for a fourth year at additional 2.3 million.
March 12, 1991
Testifies as a government witness in a federal trial of a man accused of running illegal poker games; Dykstra says he had lost $78,000 in those betting games.
March 20, 1991
Dykstra is placed on probation for one-year and ordered to refrain from all gambling activities.
May 6, 1991
Dykstra suffers broken ribs, collarbone and cheekbone in a car accident in which authorities said he was driving drunk on his way home from a teammate’s bachelor party.
June 11, 1991
Appears in court for a preliminary hearing. Dykstra is charged with DWI, speeding and reckless driving.
July 15, 1991
Recovered from his injuries, Dykstra returns to the majors and shows he hasn’t changed his play-at-all-cost attitude, diving headfirst into second base.
August 27, 1991
Breaks his collarbone while crashing into the outfield wall in Cincinnati while making a running catch. It’s the same collarbone he broke in May car crash. Is out for season.
January 10, 1992
Enters a first-time offender program that results in a suspended driver’s license for three months but ultimately erases the DWI arrest from his record.
April 7, 1992
Breaks his left wrist when he is hit by a pitch during his first plate appearance of the season. Still played final 8 ½ innings with broken wrist. Misses three weeks.
August 16, 1992
Breaks his hand diving into first base. Still played remainder of game even though he had been telling players he thought he broke his hand. Misses rest of season.
An article in Philadelphia magazine details a day-in-the-life of Dykstra’s gambling in Atlantic City, including losing $50,000 at baccarat and nearly coming to blows with another gambler.
Reports to spring training and tells reporters, “this is the year I'm going to go out and shove it in everyone's face.” Proceeds to have best season of his career.
October 3, 1993
After injuries kept Dykstra out of 177 games during the previous two seasons, he plays all but one game in 1993 and leads the league in at-bats, hits, walks and runs scored while leading the Phillies to the playoffs.
October 11, 1993
Hits a home run in 10th inning of Game 5 of the National League Championship Series, giving the Phillies a three-games-to-none lead over the Braves. It’s his second home run of the series.
October 23, 1993
Dykstra’s three-run home run in the seventh inning of Game 6 is his fourth of the World Series (and sixth of the postseason) and it gives the Phillies the lead. But closer Mitch Williams blows it in the ninth and the Phillies lose the series.
Major League Baseball sends Dykstra to Europe as its ambassador. An article in Sports Illustrated details how Dykstra refused to take off his cap at noted Paris restaurant La Tour d'Argent and spent about $13,000 on dinner, including two $3,000 bottles of wine (including one to go).
Nearly comes to blows with State Sen. Earl Baker of Chester County during lunch at a Philadelphia restaurant. (Baker recently told Newsday Dykstra became angry when Baker asked him to stop using foul language.)
December 24, 1993
Agrees to a new four-year, 24.9-million deal with the Phillies. The average annual value of the contract makes Dykstra the seventh-highest paid player in the big leagues.
January 25, 1994
Dykstra and his longtime agent Alan Meersand cut ties. The agent says Dykstra “has no respect for anything” and “I no longer want to represent a player who curses at women and children.
January 29, 1994
The grand opening of Dykstra’s first car wash is held. "People have no idea about my goals, what I want out of life," he said in USA Today. "I'm not just a baseball player who dives into bases and runs into walls. Business is a new challenge. It's thrilling.”
February 9, 1995
With baseball players on strike since last August, Dykstra says on ESPN he is considering crossing the picket line. Seven days later he apologizes before about 260 other players.
June 14, 1995
Dykstra goes on the disabled list with a back problem. Doctors say he is bothered by a spinal condition that puts pressure on nerves in his lower back. It is this condition that will ultimately end his career in a year.
July 28, 1995
Goes on disabled list again, this time because of knee problems.
August 2, 1995
Dykstra has surgery on right knee again and misses the remainder of the season.
May 20, 1996
Dykstra is placed on the disabled list after suffering ribcage muscle pull. Two days earlier he went 0-for-3 in what will prove to be his final major-league game.
June 3, 1996
The Phillies reveal that Dykstra, still on the disabled list with a ribcage injury, will "seek several medical opinions" because of the continuing pain in his lower back.
June 11, 1996
The Phillies now say Dykstra will miss the remainder of the season.
July 15, 1996
Dykstra has surgery on his back.
Spends the entire year rehabbing his back.
Tells the Philadelphia Inquirer that the year away from baseball has him confronting his mortality. "You know the great thing about life? You always get a chance to redeem yourself."
Still under contract with the Phillies, Dykstra shows up for spring training hoping to make the team.
March 17, 1998
Puts comeback on hold because of more back problems.
March 27, 1998
A back specialist tells Dykstra he’s done playing baseball.