NEW YORK (Reuters) - Lenny Dykstra, the former star center fielder for the New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies Major League Baseball teams, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
The 46-year-old has no more than $50,000 of assets and between $10 million and $50 million of liabilities, according to a petition filed Tuesday with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Central District of California.
Dykstra's filing comes in the wake of more than 20 lawsuits he faces tied to his activities as a financial entrepreneur, including The Players Club, a glossy magazine for athletes he had helped launch in 2008.
According to an April article on ESPN.com, Dykstra put his net worth at $60 million, and also owned a black Rolls Royce Phantom and Gulfstream II jet.
Known as "Nails" and "The Dude," Dykstra played for 12 years with the Mets and the Phillies before retiring in 1996 with a lifetime .285 batting average, 81 home runs, 404 runs batted in, and 285 stolen bases.
He helped the Mets win the World Series in 1986, and as a Phillie was the National League runner-up to Barry Bonds in the Most Valuable Player voting in 1993. The Phillies lost the World Series that year.
Walter Hackett, a lawyer for Dykstra, said the event triggering the bankruptcy filing was a planned foreclosure sale of a southern California residence that Dykstra bought from hockey legend Wayne Gretzky for $17.5 million in 2007.
Dykstra is "in good spirits," Hackett said in an interview. "He understands now that bankruptcy is truly a protective act. I do expect that Lenny is going to emerge from Chapter 11, and make those people whole who have legitimate claims."
According to the bankruptcy petition, Dykstra's largest unsecured creditors include units of JPMorgan Chase & Co, owed $12.9 million, and Bank of America Corp, owed a combined $4.2 million.
Hackett said Washington Mutual, now part of JPMorgan, was the main lender on the 2007 home purchase, and that the bank misled Dykstra about his ability to afford the property. The lawyer said the bank deserves nothing on its claim.
JPMorgan spokesman Tom Kelly said: "We don't comment on individual cases, but we expect our customers to repay their legal obligations under their mortgages when possible."
The bankruptcy case is In re Lenny Kyle Dykstra, U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Central District of California (San Fernando Valley), No. 09-18409.
Reporting by Jonathan Stempel, editing by Gerald E. McCormick, Bernard Orr