Leonard Kyle (Lenny) Dykstra (Template:PronEng, born February 10, 1963 in Santa Ana, California, and also known as Nails or The Dude) is a former Major League Baseball outfielder. Dykstra played for the New York Mets during the late 1980s before playing for the Philadelphia Phillies during the early 1990s. He threw and batted left-handed and served primarily as a leadoff hitter.
Dykstra is a Dutch surname; specifically West Frisian. "Dykstra" is the old spelling; in modern-day Dutch the spelling would be Dijkstra.
New York Mets
Dykstra was signed by the Mets as a 13th round draft pick in 1981. A star in the minors, in 1983 he led the Carolina League in at-bats, runs, hits, triples, batting average, and stolen bases with 105, which was a league record for 17 years. That season, he batted .358 with 8 HR, 81 RBI, and 105 stolen bases while recording 107 walks against just 35 strikeouts. He was consequently named the Carolina League's MVP. Dykstra soon emerged as one of the Mets prized prospects, and while playing in AA in 1984, he befriended fellow outfielder and teammate Billy Beane. Beane would later say that Dykstra was "perfectly designed, emotionally" to play baseball and that he had "no concept of failure."
In 1985, Dykstra was deemed ready for the Major Leagues, and he was promoted to the Mets when the team's starting center fielder, Mookie Wilson, was forced to the disabled list. Dykstra's stellar play and high energy was a big boost to a Mets team that surged to a 98-win season and narrowly missed out on the NL East crown. The following season, Dykstra was slated to serve as part of a center field platoon with Wilson, but when Wilson suffered a bad eye injury during spring training, Dykstra began the season as the outright starter and leadoff hitter. Later that season, the Mets would release left fielder George Foster, with Wilson moving over to play left. Mets fans soon nicknamed Dykstra "Nails" for his tough-as-nails personality and fearless play. In 1986, he even took off his shirt to pose for a "beefcake" poster under the "Nails" nickname. Moreover, Dykstra and #2 hitter Wally Backman were termed the "Wild Boys" for their scrappy play and propensity to serve as the spark plugs for a star-studded lineup. Dykstra and Backman were equally wild off the field, as the 1986 Mets have since become one of the most notoriously raucous teams in history.
With Dykstra batting in the lead-off spot, the 1986 Mets cruised to the division crown, burying the second-place Philadelphia Phillies by an overwhelming 21.5 games, en route to a 108-54 season. The Mets would eventually head to the World Series after a hard-fought victory over the NL central Champion Houston Astros in the 1986 NLCS. Dykstra will forever be remembered for his walk off home run in Game 3, which is considered one of the biggest hits in Mets franchise history and the definitive moment of Dykstra's career. Dykstra would bat .304 in the 1986 NLCS and later hit .296 in the World Series against the Boston Red Sox. However, it was Dykstra's lead off home run in Game 3 of the World Series at Fenway Park that served as the spark for a Mets team that had fallen behind 2 games to none. The home run made him the 3rd Met in team history (along with Tommie Agee and Wayne Garrett, both of whose home runs also came in a Game 3, in the 1969 and 1973 World Series respectively) to hit a leadoff home run in the World Series. Following Dykstra's home run, the Mets rallied to defeat the Red Sox in seven games in one of the most memorable World Series of all-time.
Following the Mets' World Championship, Dykstra would continue to serve as the team's sparkplug for several seasons. In the 1988 NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Dykstra continued his post season success by hitting .429 in a losing effort. However, Dykstra was traded to the Phillies on June 18, 1989, along with pitcher Roger McDowell and minor-league player Tom Edens for outfielder Juan Samuel. Teammate Keith Hernandez later said in his book Pure Baseball that Dykstra was "on the wild and crazy side", which he cites as one of the reasons the Mets chose to trade him and the Phillies chose to acquire him. Many Mets fans continue to point to the trade of Dykstra when the Mets' dominance of the mid-to-late 1980s began to collapse.
Dykstra was initially upset over the trade as he enjoyed playing in New York; nevertheless, he was well liked in Philadelphia and soon became a fan favorite there as well. He was known for his trademark cheek full of tobacco and hard play. With the Phillies, Dykstra's career was marked by incredible highs and lows. In 1990 he started the All Star Game, led the league in hits, and finished fourth in batting average. He was batting over .400 into June.
Dykstra's next two seasons were marred by injury. In 1991, while driving drunk, he crashed his car into a tree on Darby-Paoli Road in Radnor Township. Teammate Darren Daulton, who was with him during the drunken incident, was also injured. Dykstra suffered fractured ribs, a broken cheekbone, and a fractured collarbone, which cost him two months. Later in 1991, Dykstra broke his collarbone again playing in Cincinnati after running into an outfield wall and ended up missing the remainder of the season.
In 1993, it all seemed to come together for Dykstra and the Phillies. The team, which had been rebuilding since its last playoff appearance ten years previous, returned to the top of the National League East. He played in 161 games, setting a Major League record with 773 plate appearances. Despite being overlooked for the 1993 All-Star team, Dykstra led the league in runs, hits, walks, and at-bats, and was runner-up to Barry Bonds in voting for the Most Valuable Player of the National League. Dykstra's spark led the Phillies to the World Series where they faced the Toronto Blue Jays. In the series, Dykstra batted .348 and hit four home runs, including two in a 15-14 Phillies loss in Game 4. The Phillies ultimately lost the series in six games. Many believe Dykstra would have been the World Series MVP had the Phillies won the series.
Injuries plagued Dykstra for the rest of his career. He last played in the 1996 season, and launched one final comeback attempt in Spring Training in 1998 before retiring at the age of 35. Since his retirement, Dykstra has run a car wash in Corona, California.
Dykstra was sued in relation to the car wash in 2005. The lawsuit, filed by former business partner Lindsay Jones, alleged that Dykstra used steroids and told Jones to place bets on Phillies games in 1993, when Dykstra was on the team. Dykstra denied the allegations.. Dykstra was also identified by others as using steroids during his career.
Today, Dykstra is a columnist for TheStreet.com, manages his own stock portfolio, and serves as president of several of his privately held companies, including car washes; a partnership with Castrol in "Team Dykstra" Quick Lube Centers; a ConocoPhillips fueling facility; a real estate development company; and a new venture to develop several "I Sold It on eBay" stores throughout high-demographic areas of Southern California. Dykstra has helped bring to the forefront an investment strategy called "Deep in the Money Calls". He has also appeared on Fox News Channel's The Cost of Freedom business shows. With money received in these ventures he was able to purchase Wayne Gretzky's $17 million estate.
In 2002, Dykstra made a much-anticipated return to New York when he was elected as part of the Mets' 40th Anniversary All-Amazin Team. In 2006, Dykstra also returned to Shea Stadium as the Mets honored the 20th Anniversary of the 1986 World Championship team. Dykstra received among the evening's loudest ovations, and it is clear that to this day, he remains one of the city's biggest fan favorites. Dykstra has recently voiced a greater desire to get back involved in baseball, and his name has been mentioned as a possible coach or manager for the Mets; and Dykstra has also recently served as a part-time instructor at Mets' spring training at their camp in Port St. Lucie.
Dykstra returned to Flushing on September 28, 2008 for the Farewell to Shea Stadium ceremony held after the final game of the season.
His uncles Pete, Jack and Tony Leswick all played in the National Hockey League.
At approximately 1AM on May 7, 1991, Dykstra crashed his red Mercedes-Benz SL 500 into a tree on Darby-Paoli Road in Radnor Township, PA after attending the bachelor party of teammate John Kruk. Dykstra suffered broken ribs, a broken collarbone, and a broken facial bone. He also received second degree burns on his left arm and lower back. Darren Daulton (also a former teammate) was a passenger in the car at the time and his injuries included an injured eye and a broken facial bone. According to Radnor Township Police, Dykstra's blood alcohol content was 0.179 at the time of the crash.
Dykstra was named in the Mitchell Report on steroid use in Major League Baseball on December 13, 2007. The report cited multiple sources, including Kirk Radomski, stating that Dykstra used anabolic steroids during his MLB career. It also stated that the Commissioner of Baseball's office had known about Dykstra's steroid use since 2000. Dykstra did not agree to meet with the Mitchell investigators to discuss the allegations.
On December 20, 2007, Dykstra was also named in Jason Grimsley's unsealed affidavit as an alleged user of steroids.
- List of Major League Baseball runs scored champions
- List of Major League Baseball players named in the Mitchell Report
- Nails, the Inside Story of an Amazin' Season, Doubleday, 1987. (With Marty Noble.)
- ESPN.com - Page2 - The List: Best nicknames
in baseball history
- Lewis, Michael (2003-04-10). Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 45-47. ISBN.
- Hernandez, Keith (1995). Pure Baseball: Pitch by Pitch for the Advanced Fan. New York: HarperCollins, 16. ISBN.
- Ex-biz partner alleges Dykstra took steroids and HGH ESPN.com
- E-Ticket: Who Knew? ESPN.com
- Brewers continue family Draft ties | MLB.com: News
- Claire Smith. New York Times - ON BASEBALL; Drunken Driving, a Transcendent Horror. Retrieved on December 19, 2006.
- AP sports desk. New York Times - BASEBALL; A Remorseful Dykstra Admits Error. Retrieved on December 19, 2006.
- "List of Major League Baseball players listed in Mitchell Report", chron.com, 'Houston Chronicle', 13 December 2007. Retrieved on 2007-12-14.
- Mitchell Report pp. 66-7, 72, 149-50 (PDF).
- Affidavit: Grimsley named players. CNN (2007-12-20). Retrieved on 2007-12-31.
- Dykstra Sued by Accountant. Associated Press (2008-02-21). Retrieved on 2008-02-21. The New York Post reported on May 2, 2008, that Dykstra was being sued by his publishing partner, Doubledown Media, for $587,000. Doubledown claims that v="Dykstra proved himself to be a mercurial, difficult client whose many idiosyncrasies and demanding personality imposed substantial costs on the planned publication and created excessive burdens for Doubledown," the company claimed in a court filing. "At the same time, Dykstra began shirking his financial obligations to Doubledown."Dykstra Swings Away. New York Post (2008-05-02). Retrieved on 2008-05-02.
- Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube
- Baseball Library
- Satirical Article in The Onion on Lenny Dykstra
|National League Player of the Month
May, 1994 (with Mike Piazza)