David Justice (born April 14 1966 in Cincinnati, Ohio) is a former right fielder in Major League Baseball who played for the Atlanta Braves (1989-96), Cleveland Indians (1997-2000), New York Yankees (2000-01), and Oakland Athletics (2002).
Early life[edit | edit source]
David is the son of Robert and Nettie Justice. His father left the family when Justice was two years old. Justice graduated from Covington Latin School in Covington, Kentucky at age 16 in 1982. He skipped the seventh and eighth grades. He then attended Thomas More College in Crestview Hills, Kentucky majoring in Criminal Justice.
Baseball career[edit | edit source]
Atlanta Braves[edit | edit source]
Justice made his major league debut in May 1989, playing for the last-place Braves. The young right fielder earned the starting job after Braves fan favorite Dale Murphy was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies. Justice promptly went on an offensive tear during the second half of the 1990 season, finishing with 28 home runs, which certainly helped him claim the National League's Rookie of the Year Award. In 1991, the Braves suddenly found themselves as a winning team, and Justice, who finished with 87 runs batted in despite being injured for part of the season, played in his first World Series.
After seeing his production slide slightly in 1992, Justice enjoyed a monster 1993 season. He clubbed 40 home runs and 120 RBIs with 78 walks, finishing third in MVP voting behind Barry Bonds and Lenny Dykstra. Justice was batting .313 with a .427 on base percentage and .531 slugging average when the strike ended play in 1994.
When baseball returned in 1995, Justice helped his teammates to victory in the 1995 World Series against the Cleveland Indians with a crucial home run in Game 6 to provide the only run in a 1–0 game that clinched the championship.
"I love the Braves, so when John Schuerholz looked me in my face and told me 'I'd bet my house and my family that you won't be traded' that's good enough confidence for me coming from a General Manager, and then out of nowhere, one week later I'm gone."
Cleveland Indians[edit | edit source]
Justice proved right away that he had many good years left. He hit .329 with a .418 OBP and .596 slugging average in 1997, with 33 home runs, while making another World Series appearance. He posted solid numbers in 1998 and 1999 with Cleveland Indians before his big year in 2000. That season, he hit .286 with a .377 OBP and .584 slugging average, and slugged 41 home runs with 118 RBIs.
Towards the end of year, the Cleveland Indians placed David Justice on waivers. He was then claimed by the White Sox and dealt to the team for a package of players centered around reliever Mel Rojas and several double-A prospects. Justice only lasted 2 games before a shoulder strain landed him on the disabled list which ended his season. Justice, then a free agent resigned with the Cleveland Indians.
New York Yankees[edit | edit source]
This strong season persuaded the New York Yankees to trade three players (Jake Westbrook, Zach Day and Ricky Ledee) for him in late June. Justice won the 2000 AL Championship Series MVP Award en route to his second world championship.
Later baseball career[edit | edit source]
His production slid considerably in 2001, and he was traded to the New York Mets (for 3B Robin Ventura), then the Oakland Athletics (for LHP Mark Guthrie and RHP Tyler Yates) after the season. He played a final season on an Oakland team which reached the playoffs in 2002. His addition to Oakland was referred to as an 'experiment' by A's assistant GM Paul DePodesta. The experiment was to evaluate whether hitters retained their ability to get on base as they got older (kept their batter's eye). His .378 OBP and BB/K ratio of greater than 1:1 seemed to prove that correct.
Career totals[edit | edit source]
Justice finished his career as a .279 hitter, with a .378 OBP and .500 slugging percentage, 305 home runs, 903 walks and 1017 RBI in 1610 games. From 1991 to his last season in 2002, Justice's teams made the postseason every year (with the exception of the strike-shortened 1994 season). Of those times, he made the World Series six times, winning twice.
Honors[edit | edit source]
In March 2007, it was announced that David Justice would be inducted into the Atlanta Braves Hall of Fame. He was the first member of any of the Braves' fourteen consecutive division title teams (1991–2005, excluding the strike-shortened season in 1994) to be inducted in the Braves Hall of Fame. The induction took place on August 17, 2007, with numerous ex-Braves players and coaches in attendance.
Mitchell Report[edit | edit source]
In an interview for the Mitchell Report, released December 13, 2007, Justice denied using performance enhancing substances, but was willing to report the names of individuals he suspected, though had no direct knowledge of anyone else's use. He also claims to have never been warned of the side effects of steroids or explicitly told steroids were a banned substance. The Mitchell Report states that at a time after the interview, Justice is implicated by witness Kirk Radomski, who claimed to have sold Justice human growth hormone after the 2000 World Series when he was with the Yankees.
Within two days of the issuance of the report Justice spoke to several media outlets, including the YES Network, the Michael Kay radio program, and ESPN Radio's The Herd with Colin Cowherd. In each appearance, Justice stated that his only involvement with performance-enhancing drugs was a discussion in 2000 with Brian McNamee, then the New York Yankees' strength coach, about HGH (human growth hormone). Justice had shoulder problems at the time and thought HGH was a way to recover. Justice stated that, after the discussion, he went to his locker and found a bag containing HGH and several injection needles. Seeing that needle injection was the only way to take HGH, Justice never used any of it. Justice further stated in the interviews that all claims in the Mitchell Report concerning his alleged purchase and use of any performance drugs were false and encouraged all players whose names appear in the report, especially Roger Clemens, to publicly deny any claims made by the Mitchell Report if they are untrue.
Broadcasting Career[edit | edit source]
After his playing career, Justice served as a commentator for ESPN baseball telecasts for two years. He later joined the YES Network of the New York Yankees as a game and studio analyst, and also hosted the network's youth-oriented program Yankees on Deck. Prior to the 2008 season, the YES Network announced that Justice would not appear on air during that season, but would contribute articles to the network's website. Justice stated that this change was not in response to his inclusion in the Mitchell report, but was due to the destruction of his California home by a wild fire and the recent passing of his mother.
Personal[edit | edit source]
Justice was married to film actress Halle Berry from January 1, 1993 to 1996. He is currently married to Rebecca Villalobos. He has two sons, David Jr. (b. 27 December 1999 with Nicole Foster) and Dionisio (b. 7 June 2002 with current wife Rebecca), as well as a daughter, Raquel (b. 2004). He is a member of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.
See also[edit | edit source]
- Top 500 home run hitters of all time
- List of Major League Baseball players with 1000 RBI
- List of Major League Baseball players named in the Mitchell Report
References[edit | edit source]
[edit | edit source]
- Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube
|National League Player of the Month
|National League Rookie of the Year
|AL Comeback Player of the Year Award
|American League Championship Series MVP