Angels-owned radio station KLAA (AM 830) has hired troubled ex-major leaguer Jim Leyritz to co-host a new sports talk show, a peculiar move for a club that lost promising young pitcher Nick Adenhart to a drunk-driving accident in 2009.
Leyritz, a two-time World Series champion with the New York Yankees who had a brief stint with the Angels in 1997, was convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol when he struck and killed a woman in a 2007 automobile accident.
A Fort Lauderdale, Fla., jury in 2010 acquitted Leyritz of DUI manslaughter in the death of 30-year-old Fredia Ann Veitch, a mother of two, sparing the former catcher from a possible 15-year prison sentence.
Instead, Leyritz, now 50, was sentenced to one year’s probation and fined $500, a far lesser penalty than he faced before a jury determined he wasn’t responsible for the woman’s death.
“That was in the past—he’s dealt with it, he’s open about it, and I’ll leave it at that,” KLAA program director Bob Agnew said. “We hired Jim based on his broadcast and baseball experience. He had an issue he has not hidden from. It’s not something to go backwards on. He has to live with what’s happened in the past.”
Adenhart was a 22-year-old rookie pitcher in April 2009 when he and two friends were killed by a drunk driver when their car was broadsided in a Fullerton intersection just hours after Adenhart threw six scoreless innings against the Oakland Athletics in his season debut.
According to reports, Leyritz was celebrating his birthday when his Ford Expedition slammed into Veitch’s Mitsubishi Montero in a Fort Lauderdale intersection at 3 a.m. on Dec. 28, 2007.
Jurors decided Leyritz did not run a red light and cause the crash. Evidence showed that Veitch, a bartender who was also driving drunk before the crash and was not wearing a seat belt, likely ran the light.
But a blood sample taken three hours after the crash showed Leyritz had a blood-alcohol level of 0.14, well above Florida’s 0.08 limit.
“I said it from the very beginning, there would be no winners in this case,” Leyritz said in a tearful statement to the judge after being sentenced. “This was a horrible, horrible tragedy.”
Leyritz, who played 11 major league seasons and is best remembered for a dramatic World Series home run that helped propel the Yankees toward their 1996 championship, reportedly settled a wrongful death lawsuit filed by Veitch’s family for $350,000, with $250,000 covered by insurance and the rest by Leyritz.
Leyritz, who retired after the 2000 season, previously co-hosted a show on MLB Network Radio and was a regular contributor to the "Michael Kay Show" on the New York City ESPN radio affiliate.
He moved to Southern California about three years ago and spoke regularly with Angels Chairman Dennis Kuhl about possible broadcast jobs.
In his new position, Leyritz will team with KLAA’s Jason Brennan on a two-hour show called “Inside the Game.” It will air Monday through Friday from 1 to 3 p.m., beginning Jan. 6, and will cover all Southern California sports.
“After 10 years of radio and TV on the East Coast, I am excited to become part of Angels Radio AM 830,” Leyritz said in a press release. “Moving to Southern California three years ago, this is the opportunity I’ve been waiting for. I hope to bring special insights and interviews with important figures from inside and outside the world of sports.”
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