The defining moment for Jim Leyritz should have been his monstrous home run against the Atlanta Braves that turned around the 1996 World Series. But for all of his postseason heroics, he is often remembered for the tragic car accident that killed a women in Broward County Florida in 2007.
The woman died at the scene. The blood samples that police collected reportedly showed alcohol levels that were above the legal limit. Leyritz was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving and vehicular homicide.
This overshadowed a wonderful baseball career. One in which he earned a reputation of coming through for the Yankees when they needed it the most.
It started in 1995 when the Yankees faced the Seattle Mariners in the American League Division Series. Leyritz hit a 15th inning two-run home run that gave the Yanks a 7-5 win.
Then in the ’96 World Series against the Braves, he hit a three-run shot in the eighth inning of Game 4 to tie it up. Without that, the Yankees were destined to go down three games to one in the series.
And in the 1999 World Series, Game 4 was magical for Leyritz once again. This time it was a solo home run in the eighth. He had reiterated his claim to the title of “Mr. October!”
But after his arrest in 2007, his personal life headed in a downward spiral. He was hospitalized in May of 2009. Rumors surfaced that he had threatened suicide. But he insisted that the hospitalization was due to stress, according to ESPN.
A couple of months later, he was arrested again. This time he was accused of battery against his former wife, according to UPI.COM. The charges were reportedly dropped.
In November of 2010, he faced the trial for the 2007 accident. He was acquitted of DUI manslaughter, but convicted of a misdemeanor charge. He received one year probation and a $500 fine, according to USA TODAY. He later paid $350, 000 to the victim’s family in a civil lawsuit settlement.
To his credit, Leyritz has worked hard at giving back. He has supported the Boys and Girls Club, the Covenant House and the Police Benevolent Association.
And he has worked to turn his own life around, as well. Besides working in radio, he reportedly signed a personal services contract with the Yankees in 2012.