When Pete Rose entered Major League Baseball, there was no MLB.tv or anything close to the internet to broadcast his talents across the country. He was nothing more than this amazingly talented high school baseball star that hit 0.626 during his career. He was not going to be drafted or even attend college on a scholarship. But he had an uncle who just so happened to work for the Cincinnati Reds, as a talent scout. That family connection gave him the opportunity to become a legend and he did not disappoint. He would go on to win the Rookie of the Year award in his first MLB season.
He also turned in one of the greatest career's in professional sports history but has not been inducted to the Hall of Fame because of a problem he dealt with outside of baseball. Shortly after he retired from the game, a story broke that he was betting on games and was officially banned from baseball, forever. A once promising Hall of Fame career has turned into a life of regret and bad decisions culminating in a tax evasion case in 1990.
He is not alone. There are many other players that leave the sport and turn into different people. They become angry, depressed, and disconnected from society because the life they have lived since they were small children was over. There would be no more traveling from city to city or primetime matchups on national television with roaring crowds and millions of fans watching around the world. That part of their lives was done and some athletes struggle to manage life without it.
Here are the 15 MLB players whose lives fell apart away from the game.
15 Matt Bush
Matt Bush is a name you should know by now but don't because the former 2004 first overall draft pick spent much of the past ten years battling the both the law and himself.
It started not very long after he was drafted when he was arrested on multiple different counts such as felony assault, misdemeanor trespass, disorderly conduct, and underage drinking. In 2009, he fought with a high school lacrosse player and it was caught on camera before assaulting a woman at a party just shortly after that. Then, in 2012, he received a DUI after his vehicle struck a 72-year old motorcyclist and fleeing the scene. He ended up in prison in 2012 and did not get released until late 2015.
He finally got his big league debut in 2016 and he looked like a beast, putting up some impressive numbers for a man that was supposed to be the answer to the Florida Marlins pitching staff's future.
14 Curt Schilling
During his playing days, Curt Schilling was one of the best. He did not become an elite pitcher until much later on in his playing career when he got to Philadelphia and became known as the dominating superstar everyone was talking about. Before heading to Arizona, Curt spent his last three seasons winning 47 games, with a 3.22 ERA, 771 strikeouts, and 30 complete games.
He moved on to the Diamondbacks where he led them to a World Series as part of the dynamic duo alongside Randy Johnson. His final stop was in Boston, playing for the Red Sox, where he won two more World Series before retiring in 2007.
On the field, he was one of the best. But off the field, he was outspoken and constantly found himself getting into trouble arguing with the media. His biggest problem came when he used Facebook to post a racial infused rant comparing Muslim Jihadism to the German Nazis.
13 Lenny Dykstra
Following his baseball career, Lenny Dykstra battled some inner demons that got him in trouble multiple times. The former superstar was arrested in 1999 for sexual harrasment of an underage girl but charges were dropped and all was forgiven. Ten years later, he ran into more problems when the media began reporting that his businesses were failing and he lashed out against blacks, women, and homosexuals as a defense mechanism. It did not win him any more fans.
Not but five months after that incident, he was no longer allowed access to his multi-million dollar properties in Lake Sherwood. A year later, he wrote bad check to a female escort, Monica Foster, who then preceded to blog about it and even showed off the check to prove it.
He was not finished and in 2011, he was accused of sexual assaulting his housekeeper, arrested and charged with bankruptcy fraud, arrested on grand theft charges in Los Angeles, 25 misdemeanor and felony counts of grand theft auto, identity theft, filing false financial statements, and drug possession, and finally, to end his 2011, he was charged with indecent exposure.
12 Chuck Knoblauch
In 1992, in his second MLB season, Chuck Knoblauch quickly asserted himself into the conversation as the best second baseman in the league, earning an All-Star bid and finishing the season hitting 0.297 with 104 runs, 56 RBI, 19 doubles, and 34 stolen bases. He was fresh off an American League Rookie of the Year season the year before also. He continued to showcase his abilities until he got to the New York Yankees where he suddenly could not seem to throw a baseball from second to first base. His errors turned him into an expendable athlete and was out of the league before he was 34 years old.
His early departure from Major League Baseball turned him into a forgotten memory and the legacy he had tried to build for himself came crashing down. No one plans on playing baseball for a couple years, they all plan on playing it until they die, and he was no different.
By 2009, his troubles had become public and he ended up being charged with assaulting his wife, Stacey Victoria Stelmach, after she told police that he both hit her and choked her. He pleaded guilty in 2010. Four years later, in 2014, he was charged with the same crime, this time, with his wife Cheri Knoblauch, after he allegedly assaulted her too.
11 Rod Beck
By the time Rod Beck signed his first major league baseball contract, worth millions, he had became known as one of the game's most intimidating closers with his long curly mullet and big mustache. The man known as Shooter was a three time All-Star pitcher for the San Francisco Giants that would finish with 286 career saves, a 3.30 ERA, and 644 strikeouts. He would play for the Chicago Cubs, Boston Red Sox, and San Diego Padres before it was all over.
But towards the end of his career, in 2003, his wife finally discovered he had a drug problem and noticed how it was very rapidly taking over his life. For the next year, he bounced back and forth between rehabs and baseball, but eventually lost his pitching gig after posting a horrible ERA in a few short appearances.
His drug problem was so bad that he eventually wound up living in a RV just 30 miles outside of Phoenix, Arizona. He would never fully recover and by June of 2007, the drugs had taken over his life, permanently.
10 Otis Nixon
In 1991, Otis Nixon stole 72 bases while hitting 0.297, with 81 runs and 26 runs batted in. He failed to make the All-Star game that year and that became a title that would carry with him throughout his entire career as he would never make an All-Star team even though he retired with 620 stolen bases. He is the only man in baseball to not make an All-Star team after reaching 600 stolen bases.
When he retired in 1999, it would take him ten years before he revealed he had a serious drug problem during his post-playing days and that he continued to struggle with it in 2010 when he was arrested in Cherokee County, Georgia for having a crack pipe and rock in his vehicle during a routine traffic stop.
As his drug problems continued, he dealt with issues involving arson in one of his home's in Cobb County, Georgia and earlier this year, he went missing after he missed his scheduled tee time for a golfing event. He was found safe a day later with no explanation as to why.
9 Jack Clark
During the late '70s and early '80s, Jack Clark quickly became known as one of the best, and most feared, hitters in the game. For his career, he averaged 28 home runs, 96 runs batted in, 91 runs, 27 doubles, and hit for 0.267 over a 162 game season. He spent 18 years in the majors and played for the Giants, Cardinals, Yankees, Padres, and Red Sox. The four time All-Star reached his peak in 1987 when he hit 35 home runs with 106 runs batted in.
By the time he left baseball, Jack Clark had created a major problem for himself because of his love of automobiles. And not just any automobiles, he loved luxury vehicles. At one point, he ended up with 17 car notes, all luxury cars, and had to declare bankruptcy in 1992.
20 years later, he got fired from his radio talk show gig after accusing Albert Pujols of using performance-enhancing drugs, PEDs.
8 Ryan Freel
Ryan Freel did not have a normal path to get to the Majors. He did not attend a national powerhouse college, nor was he drafted in the first few rounds of the MLB draft out of high school. Instead, he wound up playing for Tallahassee Community College where he ended up being drafted in the 10th round of the 1995 MLB draft by the Toronto Blue Jays.
It took him six years before working his way into the Toronto Blue Jays lineup in 2001 where he played in just nine games that year. He signed with the Tampa Bay Rays as a free agent in 2002 but never made it to the big show until the following season, when he played for the Cincinnati Reds. He played a few years for the Reds, averaging 42 stolen bases a season, including playing in nearly 100 games each year. He finally made it.
But in 2006, he told The Dayton Daily News about his imaginary friend, a dwarf named Farney, that lives in his head. He was serious and that is what made it scary. He suffered from bipolar disorder, depression, ADHD, and anxiety but that was not the reason for his suicide in 2012. After his family donated his brain tissue to Boston University, to be studied, it was discovered that he was suffering from Stage II CTE, which also meant he was the first MLB player to suffer from the now famous NFL brain injury many players suffer from.
7 Milton Bradley
By the time he was 30, Milton Bradley had played for six different MLB teams over the course of nine seasons. He played for the Montreal Expos, Cleveland Indians, Los Angeles Dodgers, Oakland A's, San Diego Padres, Texas Rangers, Chicago Cubs, and Seattle Mariners before retiring in 2011. He was a talented hitter and a dynamite outfielder who created headlines with his anger issues.
Besides the many issues he had been battling on the field, he had several off the field problems with his personal relationships including three different domestic violence incidents in which police were called out to his home but charges never filed. In January of his final year in baseball, 2011, he was arrested and charged with making criminal threats to his wife, Monique Bradley, where no charges were filed but she ended up divorcing him.
Two years later, he was finally charged for five different domestic violence incidents from 2011 to 2012 and wound up going to prison for 32 months.
6 Dwight Gooden
Dwight Gooden is one of the most well-recognized MLB players that dealt with drug and alcohol addictions mainly because he was such a popular player with an enormous range of abilities.
When he entered the league, he was 19 years old and became the New York Mets starting pitcher, finishing the season with a 17-9 record, 2.60 ERA, seven complete games, three shutouts, and 276 strikeouts. He added an All-Star appearance and was named the National League Rookie of the Year. Before long, he was one of the best starting pitchers in baseball. But he slowly started to struggle each season as drugs took over his life and in 1995, he was suspended for the entire season for failing a drug test while on another suspension.
His addiction continued throughout his career and well into post retirement where things got really out of control in 2005 when he was arrested multiple times for various incidents. He was arrested for misdemeanor battery after hitting his girlfriend before getting into trouble for driving under the influence. But it reached the pinnacle when was given a seven months prison sentence for showing up to meet his probation officer while under the influence of cocaine. He even wound up on VH1's Celebrity Rehab with Dr.Drew in Summer of 2011.
5 Willie Aikens
Not many people remember the hard hitting Willie Aikens who played for the California Angels, Kansas City Royals, and Toronto Blue Jays between 1977 and 1985. For those that do remember him, they surely do not recall the 110 home runs or the 415 runs batted in he hit. What they do remember is the drug scandal that rocked the Royals in 1983. The U.S. attorney Jim Marquez questioned him and many of his teammates about a federal cocaine probe. He ended up pleading guilty to attempting to purchase cocaine and served three months in jail.
Long after his retirement, Willie Aikens ended up being found guilty of selling 50 grams of crack cocaine to an undercover police officer. He was sentenced to over 20 years in jail. That was in 1994.
His original sentencing was for 15 years and eight months but was turned into 20 years and eight months for also allegedly having a loaded gun with him in the rooms where the drugs were being sold. He was released in 2008 after the federal law changed to lessen the tough minimum sentences given out for drugs in the early '90s.
4 Jose Canseco
If Jose Canseco never opened his big mouth about players using performance-enhancing drugs, PEDs, then maybe he would have a better reputation for being an actually talented baseball player and not just a guy juiced up on steroids, cheating to get to the top.
Before we knew about PEDs, during Jose Canseco's playing days, he was a monster. He hit 187 Home Runs in a five year span which came out to round 37 a season. He added over 100 runs batted in and anywhere from 85 to 110 runs per season too. But then he started to run into injury problems and only had one last good season, in 1998, when he hit 46 home runs.
Although he retired in 2001, his legal troubles dated back to his early playing days when he was arrested for reckless driving, driving with a loaded weapon, aggravated battery his wife at the time, domestic abuse on his next wife, two counts of aggravated battery, and various other problems.
He did the one thing no one should ever do, dare to defame the game of baseball just to sell a couple of books.
3 Hideki Irabu
Japanese baseball players were not always coming to America to play Major League Baseball. In fact, prior to Hideki Irabu's signing with the New York Yankees in 1997, only two other athletes ever made the trip across the Pacific to become a superstar in America (Masanori Murakami and Hideo Nomo). Originally, the San Diego Padres went after Irabu but he refused to sign with them and would only play with the Yankees and who wouldn't?
Once the deal managed to work itself out, and he signed with New York, Hideki Irabu was ready to become the next big thing in the Big Apple. But his pitching talents never translated over to the MLB and he played just six seasons with a 5.15 ERA and a 34-35 record.
The failure to become the star he expected to be in America, turned Hideki down a dark road where he found himself battling alcohol addiction almost from the moment he left the MLB. He got into bar fights including one in Umeda, Osaka in which he had more than 20 glasses of beer, that was in 2008. In 2010, he earned a DUI in Redondo Beach, Califonia.
He died in 2011 after an apparent suicide from hanging. His autopsy revealed a very high blood alcohol level.
2 Ugueth Urbina
When Ugueth Urbina made it to the MLB, he quickly showcased his pitching talents and found himself with 27 saves in 1997, just his third year in the league. While pitching for the Montreal Expos, he followed up 1997 with consecutive seasons of 34 and 41 saves, leading the NL during the latter.
His lockdown abilities eventually carried over to the Florida Marlins who he helped win the 2003 World Series. He was a two-time All-Star and has a unique record to his name. He is tied for the MLB record for striking out three hitters on just nine pitches, the absolute minimum.
Towards the end of his career, Urbina began to deal with multiple problems starting with his mother's kidnapping in 2004 at his home in Southwest Venezuela. Then, in 2005, he was arrested for attempted murder in Venezuela. Several farm workers of his allegedly stole a gun of his, at least, that is what he claimed, so he chased them with a machete and even tried to burn them alive. He received a 14 year sentence but only served seven years and was released in 2012.
1 Ken Caminiti
One of the most talented third baseman to ever play baseball was Ken Caminiti. He had a cannon that he called a right arm and he used it to make some of the greatest defensive plays you will ever see at third base. But he was not only a defensive guru, he was a hard-hitting slugger who routinely put up 20 home runs and 80 runs batted in while hitting right around 0.300. His best season was in 1996 when he hit 40 home runs, 130 runs batted in, 109 runs, 37 doubles, 11 stolen bases, and hit 0.326 for the year en route to his one and only National League MVP award.
But throughout the highlights and amazing plays, Ken was battling some major issues that would eventually claim is life. He fought a battle with drugs and alcohol, specifically cocaine, that sent him to prison in 2001 for possession. He made multiple trips to rehab while playing and after retiring admitted to using steroids during his 1996 MVP season.
He died of a massive heart attack in 2004 after going into his friend's apartment bathroom, in the Bronx in New York City, and taking a speedball of cocaine and heroin. The drugs he battled for so long eventually claimed his life.
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