On Aug. 14, 2007 former major leaguer Jose Offerman was involved in one of the most bizarre and violent incidents we've seen in baseball when he attacked two opposing players with a bat during a minor league game in Connecticut.
Offerman was the batter at the time and took offense to being hit by a pitch from Bridgeport Bluefish pitcher Matt Beech. Offerman charged the mound wielding his bat as a weapon and took a few swings at Beech, breaking the pitcher's finger in the process. Bluefish catcher John Nathans was also struck in the back of the head during the melee and suffered a serious concussion that ultimately ended his career.
Offerman was indefinitely suspended by the league the following day and lawsuits were quickly filed. On Sept. 24, 2007, Offerman entered a plea of not guilty to second degree assault charges, and the legal matters have been been dragging on ever since.
However, in another bizarre twist as the federal lawsuit over the attacks finally heads to trial six years later, Offerman is reported to be AWOL. At the moment, no one seems to know where he is, and most are expecting him to be a no-show when the trial begins in January.
As a federal lawsuit over the attack heads to trial, the attorney for the journeyman catcher whose career was ended with a swing of Offerman's bat doesn't know where the two-time All-Star is - and doesn't expect him to show up for court.
J. Craig Smith, the attorney for former Bridgeport Bluefins catcher John Nathans, tried to serve Offerman with discovery documents in recent months, with no success.
"It's been so difficult for me to track him down," Smith said. "I certainly don't expect Offerman to show up at court."
The trial to determine whether or not Offerman is liable for Nathans' injuries is set to go on with or without him, just as many previous court proceedings have.
Smith said Offerman hasn't appeared at any of the court proceedings. Offerman is a citizen of the Dominican Republic who has lived in the New York City area, including Queens.
A phone listing for Offerman could not be found. His lawyer in the lawsuit, Frank Riccio, who died in March, withdrew from the case in 2010, saying in a court document that Offerman refused to discuss the case with him and hadn't paid him.
Riccio's son, Bridgeport attorney Frank Riccio II, said Offerman apparently has been out of the country for some time, and he has not talked with him recently. Riccio said if Offerman ever returns, he'd likely represent him.
Again, this is all very bizarre.
It's also worth noting the bat-wielding incident wasn't the only violent episode of Offerman's post big league career. As manager of the Dominican winter league's Licey Tigers in 2010, Offerman was banned from the league for life after throwing a punch at an umpire during an on field argument. Apparently, very little has been heard from him since that incident.
As for Nathans' current health and outlook, his attorney says he continues to deal with inner ear problems as a result of the blow to his head, including nausea and dizziness, but has resumed a normal life. In fact, Nathans graduated law school recently and is now an attorney in Portland, Maine.
"Some days are better than others, but it's not a problem that anyone else would want to have and it ended his baseball career," Smith said. "He's able to function, but that has a lot to do with his personal drive and ambition. He's not going to allow this to keep him from functioning on a high level in the real world."
Nathans will seek $4.8 million in damages.
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