Jim Leyritz: Wikis

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Jim Leyritz
Catcher / Infielder / Designated hitter
Born: December 27, 1963 (1963-12-27) (age 46)
Lakewood, Ohio
Batted: Right Threw: Right 
MLB debut
June 8, 1990 for the New York Yankees
Last MLB appearance
September 13, 2000 for the Los Angeles Dodgers
Career statistics
Batting average     .264
Home runs     90
Runs batted in     387
Teams
Career highlights and awards

James Joseph Leyritz (born December 27, 1963 in Lakewood, Ohio) is a former catcher and infielder in Major League Baseball.

Contents

Career

Leyritz played for the New York Yankees (1990-1996, 1999-2000), with whom he debuted on June 8, 1990. He played for the Anaheim Angels (1997), Texas Rangers (1997), Boston Red Sox (1998), San Diego Padres (1998) and Los Angeles Dodgers (2000), pinch-hitting more extensively toward the end of his career. He batted and threw right-handed exclusively in the majors, but was known to switch-hit in the minor leagues. He is best known for his 3-run home run off Atlanta Braves closer Mark Wohlers in Game 4 of the 1996 World Series. That home run was significant, as the momentum from then on shifted towards the Yankees. "The King" is known for hitting the last home run of the 1990s in Game 4 of the 1999 World Series. He attended Turpin High School in Cincinnati, Ohio, Middle Georgia Jr. College (Cochran, GA) and the University of Kentucky.

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Idiosyncrasies at the plate

Leyritz was known for using an unusual stance which involved keeping his front leg (left leg) straight and stiff while his back leg (right leg) behind him considerably bent at the knee. He did this while circling his bat around behind his head, waiting for the pitch. After each pitch that Leyritz did not put into play or strike out on, he would grab the bat by its center and twirl it at his hip like a baton.

Playoff reputation and exploits

Leyritz is best known for hitting numerous postseason home runs that either won, tied, or changed the momentum of several series.

In Game 2 of the 1995 American League Division Series against the Seattle Mariners at Yankee Stadium, Leyritz hit an opposite field two-run home run to right-center into the rain in the 15th inning to win that game 7–5 for the Yankees and provided them with an ample 2–0 series lead in the best-of-five series. The home run came off Mariners pitcher Tim Belcher, who was famously involved in a profanity-laced and threatening incident with a cameraman covering him walking through the Yankee Stadium tunnel after giving up the home run. The Yankees would eventually squander the series lead by losing the following three games in Seattle's Kingdome, the final two of which were decided in highly dramatic fashion. (The Mariners won Game 5 by a score of 6–5 with two runs in the bottom of the 11th inning.) As a result, this home run is not as well known because it ultimately did not change the series outcome.

The best known of Leyritz's playoff heroics occurred in Game 4 of the 1996 World Series against the Atlanta Braves at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. The Yankees had lost the first two games of the series at home, and narrowly won Game 3 in Atlanta. Game 4 appeared to be going to the Braves; in the 8th inning Leyritz hit a three-run home run to left field to tie the game and cap the improbable Yankee comeback. The home run was hit against Atlanta closer Mark Wohlers and the Yankees eventually won the game 8–6 in 10 innings. Leyritz's Game 4 home run remains the most recognizable moment of that series and of his career.

In 1998, Leyritz was on the San Diego Padres. Leyritz hit a number of unlikely playoff home runs and clutch hits that season, the most dramatic of which was an opposite field home run to right off the foul pole in the top of the 9th inning in the Astrodome that tied Game 2 of the National League Division Series against the Houston Astros. However, the Astros would later win the game in the bottom of the ninth. In game 3, Leyritz hit the eventually game-winning home run in the bottom of the 7th inning that broke a 1–1 tie. Overall, Leyritz batted .400 with three home runs and five RBIs in that Division Series. Ironically, Leyritz's Padres would go up against his former team, the Yankees in the World Series. The Padres were swept in four games and Leyritz did not record a home run or RBI in any game.

In 1999, Leyritz had rejoined the Yankees and hit a solo home run in the bottom of the 8th inning of Game 4 of the World Series. The home run made the score 4–1. NBC commentator Bob Costas remarked incredulously about Leyritz after the home run:

You could send this guy to a resort in the spring and summer, as long as he comes back for October.

This was the home run known as the last of the 1990s since it was the final Major League Baseball game of the 1999 postseason.

Controversies

Amphetamine use

On June 8, 2006, while doing an interview on the Opie and Anthony show on XM Satellite Radio, Leyritz admitted to using amphetamines after his shoulder surgery in 2001. The statement came in the wake of an admission by pitcher Jason Grimsley that he used performance enhancing drugs throughout his career.[1]

Legal trouble

On December 28, 2007, Leyritz was arrested in Broward County, Florida on suspicion of drunk driving and vehicular homicide in which Leyritz's car struck Fredia Veitch's car. Veitch, who was returning home from her bartending job, was not wearing a seat belt. She ejected from the car and died at the scene.

Leyritz was released on $11,000 bond and charged with two counts of drunk driving.[2]

Police collected two blood samples from Leyritz - one 2 1/2 hours after the crash and the other about an hour later. The first sample showed a blood-alcohol level of .14, and the second, .13, police said. Florida's legal limit for motorists is .08. Prosecutors say Veitch had a blood-alcohol level of .18.

Several days after the accident, it was revealed that Leyritz may face further charges because he had his license suspended in New York prior to the accident. On June 20, 2007, Leyritz was ticketed outside Albany, New York for using a cell phone while driving. On November 23, his license was suspended after he failed to appear in court. The state of Florida is processing the suspension notice from New York and could file additional charges once his Florida license is suspended. According to an official from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles: "The department has the statutory ability to suspend his license based on the fact he had knowledge of a suspension in another state and still came to Florida for a driver's license. It is unlawful." Leyritz's lawyer is quoted as saying that Leyritz's license "was not suspended in the state of Florida on the day of the accident, nor is it suspended today."[3]

On February 13, 2009, Leyritz was ordered back to jail as his bail was revoked following his apparent consumption of alcoholic beverages in violation with his bail conditions. [4] A judge allowed him to return home on bail on February 23 after agreeing with Leyritz's attorney that his pretrial release conditions were unclear and that Leyritz had misunderstood rather than intentionally violated the terms.[5]

On May 13, 2009, Leyritz was hospitalized in Florida. Reports on ESPN claimed Leyritz had threatened suicide, but Leyritz issued a statement later saying he was not suicidal but stressed out. Leyritz ran into trouble on May 14 when he attempted to start his car but the alcohol monitoring device on the car malfunctioned, leading to a false positive and triggering an automatic urine test for Leyritz. The test showed he had not consumed any alcohol and a judge cleared him.[6]

On July 2, 2009, Leyritz was arrested for battery.[7]

Radio career

Leyritz hosts a radio show with Vinny Micucci called MLB Radio Daily on MLB Radio and is a regular contributor to The Michael Kay Show on the New York City ESPN Radio affiliate.

References

External links


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