Lenny Dykstra sues former teammate Ron Darling over claims of racial insults in 1986 World Series

Yahoo Sports Contributor
Yahoo Sports

Former New York Mets outfielder Lenny Dykstra sued former teammate Ron Darling for defamation and libel on Tuesday over claims that he hurled racist insults at Red Sox pitcher Dennis “Oil Can” Boyd during Game 3 of the 1986 World Series.

Dykstra — who played for the Mets from 1985 until 1989, when he was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies — actually hit a leadoff home run against Boyd in Game 3 of that series, before later leading the team to a 4-3 series win against the Red Sox.

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Darling, however, alleges that Dykstra yelled racial slurs at Boyd throughout the game in his new book, “108 Stitches: Loose Threads, Ripping Yarns and the Darndest Characters from My Time in the Game,” which was released last week.

The lawsuit was filed in New York Supreme Court, and was filed against both Darling and his publishers, St. Martin’s Press LLC and Macmillan Publishing Group LLC.

“(Dykstra) has no choice but to bring this to action and defend his name and reputation,” the lawsuit reads. “Upon information and belief, merely to sell books and indulge in public self-promotion, Darling has sought to capitalize on (Dykstra’s) complicated past, and intentionally, falsely and maliciously portrayed (Dykstra) as a racist, an irremovable stain and permanent cloud which will forever diminish Mr. Dykstra, stalk him, and preclude him from unknowable professional and personal relationships and benefits.”

Lenny Dykstra of the New York Mets waits for the pitch during the World Series against the Boston Red Sox at Shea Stadium in October 1986 in Flushing, New York. (Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
Lenny Dykstra of the New York Mets waits for the pitch during the World Series against the Boston Red Sox at Shea Stadium in October 1986 in Flushing, New York. (Focus on Sport/Getty Images)

Darling’s claims

Dykstra, according to Darling, yelled “every imaginable and unimaginable insult and expletive in (Boyd’s) direction — foul, racist, hateful, hurtful stuff,” during Game 3 at Fenway Park.

He also added, according to NJ.com, that the insults were “worse than anything Jackie Robinson might have heard.”

“Oil Can was on the receiving end of the ugliest piece of vitriol I’ve ever heard — in a bar, on a baseball diamond … anywhere,” Darling wrote, via NJ.com. “I don’t want to be too specific here, because I don’t want to commemorate this dark, low moment in Mets history in that way.”

Darling, who pitched for the Mets from 1983-1990, stood by his claims in an interview with Mike Francesa on WFAN last week, too.

“In those days, and if you read the whole paragraph, Lenny had a way about him,” Darling told Francesa. “He was a little crazy … The world has changed. What was said 33 years ago in a fraternity of young men trying to play a sport, as you look back on it when you’re 57 or 58 years old, you’re kind of ashamed of the complicity of yourself to these kind of things … In those days people tried to rile each other in a lot of different ways, you hoped it didn’t happen that way.”

Dykstra’s hard denials, plans to sue

Dykstra has repeatedly denied these allegations both in interviews and on social media, saying Darling’s claims are unacceptable.

“None of this is true and I can prove it,” Dykstra told NJ.com last week. “For one thing, during a World Series game, you’re supposed to be focused, not (acting out) like he’s suggesting.”

Dykstra also went on “The Michael Kay Show” on 98.7 ESPN last week, where he said Darling crossed the line.

(Warning, this video contains language NSFW.)

“As far as what he said, man that’s as low as you go and they’re flat out lies,” Dykstra said. “That’s the problem.

“I wouldn’t say anything to him,” Dykstra added. “I’d drop him like a red-headed f—king stepchild.”

Dykstra said, via the New York Post, that others would have heard the racial slurs during the game, including his teammates, owners sitting behind the dugout and Red Sox catcher Rich Gedman. No audio or video of the alleged incident has been produced, Dykstra told NJ.com, because “there isn’t any.”

“I’m going to sue him and the publisher,” Dykstra said, via the New York Post. “I wrote a book myself. I had 30 lawyers calling me fact-checking everything. There is not one person to back this up, because you know why, it’s not true. It’s all a lie.”

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