October 6th, 2010
03:13 PM ET

Wednesday's intriguing people

Lenny Dykstra

The Los Angeles Times today offered a tale of recessionary woes featuring former Major League Baseball outfielder Lenny Dykstra. The Southern California native helped the New York Mets win the World Series in the mid-80s and finished his career with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1996. During his MLB years, he earned more than $26 million. He watched his salary reportedly grow from $90,000 in 1986 to $6 million in his final year.

Post-baseball, Dykstra quickly developed himself into a financial "guru," the Times reported. He launched a magazine and formed a community of professional athletes focused on growing their wealth. He even wrote a column for Jim Cramer on thestreet.com. He threw phenomenal parties attended by wealthy athletes as well as Donald Trump.

In recent years, however, Dykstra has become what can only be described as a case study in "irrational exuberance." The Times discussed in detail the lavish spending habits, the ex-wives and poor stock choices. Dykstra was hit hard by the real estate bubble as well. An extravagant Southern California estate, purchased from Wayne Gretzky for approximately $17 million went into foreclosure this year.

Still, Dykstra seemed optimistic.

“If you mess with Nails,” he told The Times, using his nickname, “you’re gonna get the Hammer.” Financial author Randall Lane summed it up this way in The Times: "He is a perfect metaphor for what happened to many people, but he did it on a scale that was monumental."

Fred Phelps

He is considered by many one of the most despised religious leaders in America. Yet Fred Phelps could very well maintain his First Amendment right to what some call hate speech. Phelps, a native of Mississippi who dropped out of Bob Jones University, heads the Topeka-based Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas. From there he leads members of his congregation around the country to protest AIDS, abortion and homosexuality, largely outside of at military funerals.

The church also protested the funeral of the parents of Bill Clinton and Al Gore, as well as various entertainers. The Southern Poverty Law Center categorizes the church as a hate group and  says Phelps reportedly has 13 children, 11 of whom are lawyers. In fact, his daughter Margie will represent the church at the Supreme Court in Washington. Here are some additional facts about the Phelps family and their church..

A native of Meridian, Mississippi, Phelps was a civil rights attorney in the 1960s. He fought for the "rights of blacks with the same passion he now reserves for the condemnation of gays," according to CNN’s John Blake. He and his wife relocated to Topeka the same day the Supreme Court ruled on Brown v. The Board of Education.

The Westboro Church claims to have conducted more than 44,000 protests over the past two decades. In 1998, it became nationally known for protesting the funeral of Matthew Shepard, a young gay man beaten to death in Laramie, Wyoming. Twelve years later, the church continues to openly protest Shepard's mother Judy Shepard, now a gay-rights activist, her spokesman said.

In 2007, the BBC profiled the Phelps family in a documentary called “The Most Hated Family in America”

It is reported that of Phelps’ 13 children, three are estranged. His son Nate told the Topeka Capital-Journal earlier this year that he is now an atheist.

soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. David Goldstein

    Len Dykstra is no a hall of famer.

    October 6, 2010 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Pamela Sellers

    You are correct.
    He was an MVP and went to the World Series twice.
    Yet the 47-year-old Dykstra has not been inducted.
    Thank you for reading and helping us be stay accurate.

    October 6, 2010 at 5:55 pm | Report abuse |
  3. okay

    Phelps is a waste of air..inbred daughters i bet

    October 6, 2010 at 7:40 pm | Report abuse |
  4. okay

    Intriguing? I think not !

    October 6, 2010 at 7:42 pm | Report abuse |
  5. ang

    What happened today CNN?? Intriguing! Slow day.

    October 6, 2010 at 9:48 pm | Report abuse |