Former NL MVP Punched Me: Golfing Buddy

By R. Stickney
|  Wednesday, Sep 15, 2010  |  Updated 5:52 PM EDT
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First, Kevin Mitchell told his golfing buddy off. Then Mitchell, a former National League MVP, started punching him.

That's according to testimony Wednesday from the friend, Leonard Lerma, in a Chula Vista court room. Mitchell faces battery charges.

“I want to show you who I am, motherf--ker," Mitchell said, according to Lerma's testimony. "I’m an old school gangster.”

Then, on the 13th hole of the Bonita Golf Club, he started throwing punches, Lerma said. 

Mitchell won the National League MVP while playing for the Giants in 1989. He also played for the Mets, Padres, Mariners, Reds, Red Sox, Indians and A's.

During a preliminary hearing Wednesday, Leonard Lerma testified that Mitchell confronted him on July 21 over a disagreement.

He told the court Mitchell mentioned he had a gun in his golf bag and wasn't afraid to use it.

Lerma also described a fight in which Mitchell slapped him on the cheek, punched him on the cheek and punched him in the forehead.

According to Lerma, a disagreement started a week before Mitchell's arrest, when the two men were sitting with other golfers on an outdoor patio at the Bonita course.

Lerma and Mitchell had taken lessons from the same golfing instructor when later that day, Lerma complained to another man how the golf lesson resulted in his poor play.

Mitchell overheard the discussion and asked why Lerma was badmouthing the instructor. Lerma testified that the two men argued but the argument didn’t escalate that day.

A week later, Lerma was golfing on the 13th hole when he saw Mitchell drive his golf cart toward him with a very firm look on his face, he said. According to Lerma's testimony, Mitchell said, “If you want to know anything about me, ask me to my face and I’ll tell you anything you want to know.”

Then the former major leaguer got out of his golf cart and said, “I want to show you who I am motherf--ker. I’m an old school gangster,” Lerma testified.

A witness to the fight testified that he didn’t see the victim swing or punch Mitchell, but when questioned by the defense attorney, the witness agreed that he didn’t see the entire incident.

It wasn't until another golfer intervened that Lerma said he was able to get away and call 911.

The defense attorney asked if Lerma had heard rumors around the golf course that claimed Lerma could have Mitchell “done in.” The victim testified that he would never say something like that.

The judge ruled that there was enough evidence that Mitchell threw punches causing a concussion and ordered the case to trial.

Through his attorney, Mitchell pleaded not guilty. The trial was scheduled for Nov. 3. Mitchell will remain free on bond.

Mitchell's defense attorney also brought up a civil lawsuit filed by Lerma asking for more than $750,000 in damages.

Mitchell, a San Diego native, has had more than one run-in with the law. In 1999, he was arrested by San Diego police after a fight at his grandmother’s Southcrest home. Mitchell was charged with felony battery after police said the baseball player struck his father in the head, cutting him.

If convicted, Mitchell could face up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

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