John Wetteland, a former major league relief pitcher who was the closer and World Series MVP on the New York Yankees’ World Series-winning team in 1996, was arrested this week on child sex abuse charges. According to the Dallas Morning News, Wetteland has been accused of “continuous sexual abuse of a child under the age of 14.”
The 52-year-old Wetteland, a divorced father of four who lives in the Dallas area, posted $25,000 bond after he was arrested Monday.
The alleged victim was not identified.
Wetteland pitched in the major leagues for 12 years, nearly always as a relief pitcher. He began his career with the Los Angeles Dodgers and later moved on to the Montreal Expos, the Yankees, and the Texas Rangers, where he signed after the Yankees won the World Series in 1996, once it became clear that Mariano Rivera would serve as Yankees closer going forward. Wetteland pitched for the rest of his career with Texas and retired in 2000 as the Rangers’ all-time saves leader. He was inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame in 2005.
The pitcher, the newspaper said, had a stint as bullpen coach with the Washington Nationals in 2006, but was removed from that position following “a series of practical jokes and transgressions” that manager Frank Robinson felt had detracted from his work. He was later a coach for the Seattle Mariners but left that position in 2010. Wetteland was reported at the time to have made a suicidal threat, but the team later said he had suffered a health issue, causing a hospitalization.
Wetteland had taught and coached at a school called Liberty Christian School, but it’s not clear whether the charges have anything to do with his work at the school.
In interviews over the years, Wetteland has discussed how he had struggled with alcohol and drug abuse as a young man, even suffering an overdose while attending a Grateful Dead concert before becoming a born-again Christian and enjoying success in baseball.
Another player on the Yankees’ championship teams in the 1990s, outfielder Chad Curtis, was charged with six counts of criminal sexual conduct in 2013, and he was later convicted on all charges and sentenced t0 as long as 15 years in prison, per Sports on Earth. Curtis was also a vocal Christian and also a teacher and coach at a school following his retirement from baseball. Curtis was on the Yankees’ championship teams in 1998 and 1999. He and Wetteland were never teammates with the Yankees, although both played for the Rangers in the 2000 season.