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Monday, June 29, 2009

L.A. Times: Once a future star, Darren Dreifort is left with scars

This probably will come as no surprise to anyone who closely followed the star-crossed professional career of the former Dodgers right-hander. A seemingly can’t-miss prospect, he wound up spending as much time rehabbing injuries as he did dueling batters during 11 major league seasons.

A hip procedure last Wednesday in Beverly Hills was his 22nd surgery—his 20th since he left Wichita State after being the second player taken in the 1993 amateur draft behind only a slugging high school shortstop from Miami named Alex Rodriguez.

A dark cloud has followed Dreifort, 37, into retirement. He has endured eight surgeries since his last game Aug. 16, 2004, when he suffered a season-ending knee injury at a time when he already was scheduled for three other postseason operations.

Divorced, he lives in Pacific Palisades after moving from La Canada to be nearer his three young sons, ages 7, 5 and 3, who live most of the week with their mother in Santa Monica.

Life hasn’t played out as he’d hoped—or major league scouts envisioned—but Dreifort says he’s OK with it.

“I’ve been able to do what I wanted to do,” he says over coffee during an interview at a Starbucks near his home. “I wanted to play major league baseball and I wanted to raise my kids. I wish I could raise my kids full time, but that’s the way it goes.”

A call from the College Baseball Hall of Fame, which inducted its first class of honorees in 2006, caught Dreifort by surprise.

Among nine others being enshrined this week are former World Series star Joe Carter, who preceded Dreifort at Wichita State, and former Mississippi State slugger Rafael Palmeiro.

Tripon Posted: June 29, 2009 at 12:56 AM | 27 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: college, dodgers, hall of fame

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   1. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: June 29, 2009 at 02:36 AM (#3236192)
I wonder if he feels bad at all about getting $55 million and then being injured for five years.
   2. More Dewey is Always Good Posted: June 29, 2009 at 02:47 AM (#3236208)
I often wonder what the Dodgers were thinking with that deal. Even when he was healthy, Dreifort was a pretty mediocre pitcher with good stuff but serious control problems. This is someone you give 8 figures/year to?
   3. Tripon Posted: June 29, 2009 at 02:50 AM (#3236215)
Kevin Malone was a pretty bad GM.
   4. base ball chick Posted: June 29, 2009 at 02:54 AM (#3236218)
55 mill and he still couldn't find a family lawyer good enough to get him custody?

and everyone but kevin malone thought it was a seriously stupid contract at the time
   5. Hugh Jorgan Posted: June 29, 2009 at 03:13 AM (#3236255)
See, now I read a story like this and wonder why the wife gets the kids most of the week? The guy doesn't need to work if has done anything reasonably sensible with the $55mil, so why doesn't he have the kids most of the week?
   6. rLr Is King Of The Romans And Above Grammar Posted: June 29, 2009 at 03:18 AM (#3236267)
I wonder if he feels bad at all about getting $55 million and then being injured for five years.

I'm sure he feels bad that he didn't get to play much, since he presumably enjoyed playing baseball. I can't imagine why he would feel bad about the money. It's not like he didn't try his best.
   7. JJ1986 Posted: June 29, 2009 at 03:20 AM (#3236273)
See, now I read a story like this and wonder why the wife gets the kids most of the week? The guy doesn't need to work if has done anything reasonably sensible with the $55mil, so why doesn't he have the kids most of the week?

She might not have to work either if she has part of that money.
   8. michaelplank has knowledgeable eyes Posted: June 29, 2009 at 03:21 AM (#3236274)
Wow, according to the salary figures at bbref, Dreifort made ~$63M in his career, of which $55M was from the contract he signed after 2000... so he produced ~90% of his value before signing the big contract, but made ~90% of his money after.
   9. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq. Posted: June 29, 2009 at 03:53 AM (#3236336)
I wonder if he feels bad at all about getting $55 million and then being injured for five years.
I wonder if you feel bad about thinking he should feel bad about it.
   10. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: June 29, 2009 at 04:04 AM (#3236338)
There are plenty of people, from athletes to internet millionaires to regular joes, who have some guilt about the money they have made.
   11. Lassus Posted: June 29, 2009 at 04:05 AM (#3236339)
See, now I read a story like this and wonder why the wife gets the kids most of the week? The guy doesn't need to work if has done anything reasonably sensible with the $55mil, so why doesn't he have the kids most of the week?

I think probably he didn't sue for custody, actually.
   12. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: June 29, 2009 at 04:06 AM (#3236340)
Did the Dodgers ever think about using him as a hitter? He was a fantastic hitter in college. He wasn't all that great in the big leagues (.184/.214/.301) but who knows if he works on it full time?
   13. Tripon Posted: June 29, 2009 at 04:15 AM (#3236341)
Dodgers used him as a pinch hitter when he was able to play. I doubt they did though, since he probably could only play 1st base, and the Dodgers had Eric Karros for that. They also traded Paul Konerko in order to keep Karros, so the Dodgers valuable Karros enough until at least 2003 when he was finally traded.
   14. Dr Stankus and the Semicolons Posted: June 29, 2009 at 04:22 AM (#3236343)
You guys are pretty funny if you think that a man could get custody. Sure, men and women are treated equally in family court...

She'd have to be provably abusive and addicted to three different drugs to lose custody of the kids.
   15. Justin T drives a crooked hoss Posted: June 29, 2009 at 04:59 AM (#3236351)
Before this thread hits the rails, I just want to say that as a 12 or 13 year old watching that College World Series when he was at Wichita State, I was completely in awe of him. The idea that a pitcher could also be a really good hitter was totally foreign to me. Of course, it isn't that rare in college (UVA had a freshman ace who hit 3rd this year), but I didn't know that at the time. I thought Dreifort was the greatest player ever and would hit like Griffey and pitch like Maddux when he got to the pros.
   16. Russlan thinks deGrom is da bomb Posted: June 29, 2009 at 05:37 AM (#3236361)
I often wonder what the Dodgers were thinking with that deal. Even when he was healthy, Dreifort was a pretty mediocre pitcher with good stuff but serious control problems. This is someone you give 8 figures/year to?

Probably the same thing that Dayton Moore was thinking when he signed Gil Meche. Both teams saw a young guy with good stuff and gambled that they could turn that stuff into results.
   17. Northpaw Posted: June 29, 2009 at 05:43 AM (#3236365)
former Mississippi State slugger Rafael Palmeiro


He played a few years in the majors, didn't he?
   18. Hugh Jorgan Posted: June 29, 2009 at 05:43 AM (#3236366)
You guys are pretty funny if you think that a man could get custody

Really? Am I naive here? I know here in Aus. if the dad is keen, he'll get a 50-50/week with him/week with her type of deal. If one party complains they tend to lose time unless it can proven they are abusive or something.

I just assumed the U.S. would be similar. My original point(not clearly stated) was that I would assume he would've tried for a 50/50 type of deal as the kids are of high importance to him.
   19. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: June 29, 2009 at 05:57 AM (#3236370)
I just assumed the U.S. would be similar. My original point(not clearly stated) was that I would assume he would've tried for a 50/50 type of deal as the kids are of high importance to him.


It's possible that as much as he loves them and wants to spend time with them, he also believes that a 50/50 split would not be ideal for their upbringing or that the mother is actually the better person to care for them most of the time.
   20. Roy Hobbs of WIFFLE Ball Posted: June 29, 2009 at 06:20 AM (#3236375)
I wonder if you feel bad about thinking he should feel bad about it.


I wonder if you feel bad about wondering if he feels bad about thinking he should feel bad about it.
   21. Hugh Jorgan Posted: June 29, 2009 at 06:25 AM (#3236379)
It's possible that as much as he loves them and wants to spend time with them, he also believes that a 50/50 split would not be ideal for their upbringing or that the mother is actually the better person to care for them most of the time.

Yeah, I hadn't really thought of that. My folks have been married for 51 years and I've been married 19, so I'm not really a good one to make decisions on split families. All I know is that I'd really miss my kids if my wife and I ever had issues.
   22. LA Podcasting Hombre of Anaheim Posted: June 29, 2009 at 06:34 AM (#3236384)
I often wonder what the Dodgers were thinking with that deal. Even when he was healthy, Dreifort was a pretty mediocre pitcher with good stuff but serious control problems. This is someone you give 8 figures/year to?
In the second half of 2000, Dreifort went 8-2 with a 3.14 ERA, 88 Ks in 94.2 innings with a .212 BAA. I'm sure they were thinking, "Ah HA! He's finally there!" and busted their piggy bank. Looking back at his game log, it seems like the Dodgers were overreacting to a good-not-great stretch of ballgames; in half of his last 16 games he didn't make it into the 7th inning, and had the same old control issues.

It's possible that as much as he loves them and wants to spend time with them, he also believes that a 50/50 split would not be ideal for their upbringing or that the mother is actually the better person to care for them most of the time.
Normally, I'd agree with the general assumption that men get screwed in divorce court, but a ballplayers' lifestyles are often... uh, not conducive to raising children. Dreifort had a reputation as an aww-shucks kind of guy, but who really knows anything? We're all just guessing, and I'd rather not.
   23. Tripon Posted: June 29, 2009 at 06:42 AM (#3236390)
Scott Boras just abused Kevin Malone. It what he does to crappy GMs.
   24. base ball chick Posted: June 29, 2009 at 11:46 AM (#3236415)
Hugh Jorgan Posted: June 29, 2009 at 01:43 AM (#3236366)

You guys are pretty funny if you think that a man could get custody

Really? Am I naive here? I know here in Aus. if the dad is keen, he'll get a 50-50/week with him/week with her type of deal. If one party complains they tend to lose time unless it can proven they are abusive or something.

I just assumed the U.S. would be similar. My original point(not clearly stated) was that I would assume he would've tried for a 50/50 type of deal as the kids are of high importance to him.


- hugh

i've said stuff like this before, but at least here in texas, a man has close to zero chance to get custudy of kids under 12 (after 12 the kids get to choose) UNLESS the mother doesn't want them. i know of 3 fathers who have their kids and that is why.

the prejudice against fathers is unbelieveable

i was just surprised that a very VERY rich man who said he wanted his kids didn't get a good enough lawyer.

but actually, truth is that men have absolutely NO idea what they are up against in court and don't prepare. the prejudice is almost unbelieveable. why people insist that a female MUST BE the better parent unless she is raping/beating the kids i do not understand.

and, at least here in texas, even if your name as the father on the birth certificate, if you were never married to the mother you have exactly zero rights to have anything to do with your kid. UNLESS you can find the money for an expensive lawyer
   25. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: June 29, 2009 at 12:52 PM (#3236446)
at least here in texas, even if your name as the father on the birth certificate, if you were never married to the mother you have exactly zero rights to have anything to do with your kid.
Not even the right to pay child support? <ducking>
   26. pthomas Posted: June 29, 2009 at 03:48 PM (#3236594)
The scars part of this headline hits the nail on the head.

I was a stringer for a little newspaper in LA for a couple of years. I got to do an interview with Augie Ojeda and got all the obligatory press passes. It happened to be the Sunday of the Hollywood Stars game. Hanging around the field during the Stars game, I was outside the Dodger dugout and a group of players came out to watch. I wound up next to Dreifort, who was wearing a t-shirt. He had a couple of scars that went the entire length of his arm, shoulder to wrist, that looked like they were etched into the skin with red magic marker.
   27. Maxwn Posted: June 29, 2009 at 04:30 PM (#3236635)
He had a couple of scars that went the entire length of his arm, shoulder to wrist, that looked like they were etched into the skin with red magic marker.

I think we, or at least I, forget that sometimes. We're so used to following players that have Tommy John surgery or other major operations that we kind of forget that routine or not, it's still surgery, and has got to be really tough to work through and rehab through. The fact that so many players do make it back from these surgeries doesn't make it any less impressive and amazing that they can.

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