Jim Leyritz Faces Trial; Lives Off Charity Money

Former Yankee Jim Leyritz is not having the best of times these days. Leyritz, who was basically unknown until he hit a game-winning home run in the 1996 World Series, is currently awaiting trial on manslaughter charges over a car accident last December that claimed the life of a 30-year-old woman. Leyritz was reportedly under the influence at the time.

Jim Leyritz

But the saddest part of all of this is that despite his legal troubles, Leyritz is the primary caregiver for his three children, and all four of them are being supported by the Baseball Assistance Team, a charity that helps out ex-players who are broke. Yes, through a divorce and irresponsible lifestyle, Leyritz blew threw the $11 million he made as a player. And to add insult to injury, the Yankees didn’t exactly want him showing up to the last game at Yankee Stadium.

The NEW YORK TIMES’ Katie Thomas has the awkward details of Leyritz’ last trip to the Stadium:

He said he was not invited to the All-Star Game in the Bronx or to the Yankee Stadium finale this year. Leyritz said that he had a ticket to the final game but that he was ejected from the V.I.P. area by a security guard and sat in the stands with fans instead.

Since retirement, Leyritz had earned his income making speaking appearances and also had a regular slot on ESPN Radio in New York. All of that has gone away:

Leyritz’s easygoing, charismatic demeanor made him popular on the speaking circuit. Last year, he received repeat requests to appear at corporate sales meetings, Little League banquets and Yankee luxury suites, engagements that his agent, Andrew Levy, said paid up to $7,500 each. Leyritz said he attended 50 events in 2007, in addition to working that season as a Yankee reporter for ESPN Radio in New York. His contract for 2008 was not extended, a decision that was made before he was arrested.

Leyritz is now having his living expenses provided by a charity:

For now, Leyritz continues to depend on payments from the Baseball Assistance Team, and he hopes that if he is exonerated, the work will return.

The charity is not paying his legal bills, he said, just basic living expenses.

“Things so I am able to put a roof over my kids’ head and food on the table,” he said.

The article doesn’t exactly paint Leyritz as a spectacular father, but it’s hard not to feel a little bad for him — and really bad for his kids. The fact that their mother’s home is considered the more unstable of the two living situations speaks volumes.

For what it’s worth, Leyritz’s lawyer intends to argue that the victim in the car accident was drunk herself (she had a 0.18 BAC), and may have been the one who caused the accident. Yes, it’s the old “nobody would’ve known I was drunk if that drunk lady hadn’t plowed into me” defense. I think I saw Jack McCoy pick that one apart once on Law & Order. If Leyritz is convicted of manslaughter, he could face as much as 15 years in prison.

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