Sunday, November 10, 2013

Ex-major leaguer Jose Offerman disappears after baseball bat attack suit: Report

Six years after attacking two opposing players with a bat during a minor league baseball game in Connecticut, ex-major leaguer Jose Offerman is nowhere to be found.

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 45-year-old Offerman — an All-Star infielder with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1995 and the Boston Red Sox in 1999 — was playing for the minor league Long Island Ducks in August 2007 in a major league comeback bid when he was hit by a pitch and charged the pitcher’s mound during a game against the Bluefish in Bridgeport.

Offerman attacked two Bluefish players, Nathans and pitcher Matt Beech, with a bat. Nathans suffered a head injury that ended his career, and Beech broke the middle finger on his non-throwing hand.

Nathans filed a $4.8 million lawsuit in 2009 against Offerman and the Ducks, a case that remains pending in federal court in Bridgeport. Jury selection and the trial were supposed to begin next week, but a judge delayed them to January and ordered the parties to attend a settlement conference on Dec. 5.

Offerman was charged with felony assault after the vicious attack, but was granted a probation program that resulted in the charges being dismissed. He was also ordered to get anger management treatment.

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.

Even if Offerman doesn’t show up to defend himself, a trial will be held and he could be found liable for Nathans’ injuries, Smith said.

In 2010, Offerman was banned for life by the Dominican winter league for throwing a punch at an umpire during an argument on a baseball field. Offerman was manager of the Licey Tigers at the time.

The Long Island Ducks deny any responsibility for Offerman’s attack on Nathans and Beech. Their lawyer, Eileen Becker, declined to comment.

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