Dykstra Claims He Blackmailed Umps

"I had to do what I had to do to win and support my family."

Lenny Dykstra, the spark plug of the 1993 Phillies team that went to the World Series, told radio host Colin Cowherd this week that he blackmailed umpires to get favorable treatment while in Philadelphia.

“I had to do what I had to do to win and support my family,” Dykstra said.

The stories have been around for years — Dykstra was coy about them during an interview with Philly radio host Mike Missanelli last year — but Tuesday’s interview appeared to be the first time he directly confirmed the rumors.

A spokesman for Major League Baseball told Philly Mag that officials are aware of Dykstra’s interview, but had no immediate comment on his allegations.

Dykstra told Cowherd he spent a half-million dollars in the 1990s to dig up dirt on umpires, then used that information — about their sex lives and gambling habits, among other things — to extract smaller strike zones and a better walk rate from those same umps during games.

“Fear does a lot to a man,” Dykstra said of the umps’ reaction to his threats.

Dykstra had addressed the rumors without confirming them during a 2014 interview with Missanelli.

“I mean, look, that story is a story that makes a lot of sense,” he said at the time. “I’m not going to say whether I did or I didn’t.”

He added: “Umpires dictate whether you’re going to be successful or not,” and explained that “understanding umpires and how much power they had was something, again, I learned early.”

And, he said, the plan paid off: “The bottom line is, after that, I led the league in walks a couple of years,” he told both Missanelli and Cowherd. He did lead the National League in walks in 1993.

Dykstra has had a troubled post-baseball career, filing for bankruptcy in 2009, then going to prison on financial fraud and car-theft convictions. He was also accused in MLB’s Mitchell Report of using steroids during his playing career.

Follow @JoelMMathis on Twitter.