Lastings Milledge, #1 Mets prospect

DMZ · January 10, 2005 at 2:59 pm · Filed Under General baseball 

Baseball America’s writeup on Milledge as the #1 Mets prospect includes this:

New York was able to get him with the 12th overall pick in 2003 because of his mixed success with wood bats, a rumored high price tag and allegations of improper sexual conduct—none of which was ever substantiated.

This is not true. The circumstances surrounding his departure from the school are not clear. There were allegations that Lastings was having sex with 12 and 13-year old girls (consenting, for what that can mean at that age) that may have resulted in him being expelled. These have certainly not been proven. The allegations were investigated, but nothing happened–

From the New York Daily News:

A Pinellas County (Fla.) sheriff’s spokeswoman revealed to the Daily News three weeks ago that Milledge was investigated for consensual sexual contact with 12- and 13-year-old girls when he was 16. Milledge completed a juvenile “diversion” program that allowed him to avoid prosecution. It consisted of community service, a written essay and a “scared straight” prison visit, according to the spokeswoman.

But to say that none of the charges were ever substantiated… well, Milledge fessed up to another part of the sex allegations.

Or, earlier:

He was projected as one of the top three picks in this year’s draft, but when word got out that he had been expelled from Northside Christian School as a junior because of sexual conduct with a younger girl – Milledge admits to having had sexual relations with his then-15-year-old girlfriend – he fell to No. 12, where the Mets picked him.

The Milledges made a admission about the second part as an explanation about what happened with the police:

Lastings did not have sexual conduct with girls as young as 12 and 13, they say. He did go through a juvenile program, they admit, but voluntarily and only because he could have been prosecuted for the sexual contact he admitted having with his girlfriend.

The Mets went so far as to address the issues, essentially saying that they felt that the really bad allegations weren’t true.

Which leaves what Milledge admitted to, which is the having-sex-with-a-15-year-old part.

I’m not going to get into whether or not thes laws are fair to consenting teens, or… or anything like it. I’m not qualified to weigh the reasoning that might have gone into the police’s choice to prosecute. I’m not qualified to speculate on why Lastings felt that he might be prosecuted for his later offense instead.

But I want to point here that even the Milledges admitted that he did something related to sex with an minor that he could have been prosecuted for, and that Lastings went through a program to (if you entirely believe their side of the story) avoid possible prosecution for that.

Again, that’s the rosy view, which leaves unexplained his departure from the school, whether that was expulsion over the possible sex issues or voluntary, and assumes the letter to the school that accuses him of the really-young-girl-thing was false.

… allegations of improper sexual conduct—none of which was ever substantiated.

This is true only if you take the most narrow view of what that conduct might be, and at best substantially understates the truth of what we know and also of the larger circumstances surrounding what we know.


29 Responses to “Lastings Milledge, #1 Mets prospect”

  1. Evan on January 10th, 2005 3:13 pm

    Ignoring the very high age of consent in the US (some quick research finds ages of consent as low as 10 in other countries)…

    Clearly one of the allegations was substantiated: Milledge admitted having sex with his 15-year-old girlfriend. Even beyond what you’ve said, the statement is only true if Milledge was never accused of having sex with his girlfriend, thus excluding that from the list of allegations.

  2. Darrell on January 10th, 2005 3:47 pm

    #2 – that’s not the point – the point, I take it, is a misleading statement by BA

  3. Adam S on January 10th, 2005 4:04 pm

    I don’t follow. Are you picking nits? Are you complaining about BBA’s poor fact checking or poor editing?

    Based on your explanation, I’d say the original statment is true — poorly written, but true. The “improper” conduct refers to that with 12 and 13 year olds. I don’t see any substantiation of that. I concur with Roger on his relationship with his 15 y.o. girlfriend (though hope this doesn’t take the thread on a tangent). I’d call that behavior illegal but not improper. And if fact, in a few states it’s not even illegal. To differentiate, driving 65 MPH in a 60 zone is clearly illegal, but I do it all the time and not alone, and don’t think it’s improper. I also wouldn’t think that having sex with his girlfriend is an issue that caused him to slip in the draft.

    That said, BBA clearly could have written this better — “never charged” or “never prosecuted”.

    If we’re picking nits, shouldn’t this be under “General Baseball” not “Mariners”.

  4. Jim Thomsen on January 10th, 2005 4:10 pm

    This is part of the reason I asked Pat Dillon about the emotional maturity of the prize prospects on the Everett AquaSox at the USS Mariner Pizza Feed. Because we talk so much about tools and skills and projections that we sometimes forget that we’re talking, by and large, about teenagers away from home for the first time and in some cases running hog-wild with newfound freedoms — in other words, Beavis and Buttheads in baseball uniforms.

    I wish we knew more about that aspect of these players in their scouting and media evaluations.

    What if Felix Hernandez is the sort of kid who giggles at flatulence humor and annoys high-school freshmen girls with lame pickup lines at the mall? What if Astrubal Cabrera likes to “fire up a fatty” late at night after games? Or Casey Craig likes to drink cheap beer and drive around with teammates playing mailbox baseball?

    I understand proprietary and privacy concerns, but I wish there was a better way for the character evaluations that major league organizations do before drafting or signing young players to filter to those of us who write about these talents. It’s important, and often overlooked as we study their K/W ratios and on-base percentages and so forth.

    It would be heartbreaking for the Mariners to get a talent like Toe Nash or Josh Hamilton, nurture them and get us excited about them … only to see them succumb to their immaturity and their character flaws and organic weaknesses.

  5. Dave on January 10th, 2005 4:12 pm

    I deleted a comment that dealt with the morality issue of what Milledge did. It may technically be on topic, but I have no desire to have this be a forum on when people should start having sex. Thanks.

    And, Jim, if you really want to know, go to the park a lot. A ton of this stuff is “common knowledge” among scouts, scouting directors, and losers like me who just spend too much time at minor league ballparks. This stuff doesn’t stay under the radar very well. I was sitting next to Chris Kline at a game last year the night before his article on Kazuhito Tadano came out, and we were casually talking about his work at BA. He mentioned his next story was going to create a firestorm, and I just casually responded “oh, you’re writing up the gay porn story?” Chris was the first guy to write about it, but I’d known the story for over a year and had even talked publically about it at the BP Pizza Feed in Cleveland, and it wasn’t news to most of the folks in the game. Chris just became the first guy to decide to put pen to ink to that kind of story.

    If you’re really interested in writing that kind of thing, there are hundreds of stories to be written just waiting for an author. Personally, I’d rather that we keep that kind of stuff out of the media, which is part of why I’ve defended the privacy of Rett Johnson and even Mike Morse to some degree.

  6. Rob McMillin on January 10th, 2005 4:24 pm

    I wonder what state his relations occurred in. If he were eighteen at the time of the acts and his girlfriend were 15 — depending on their birthdays — he might actually be off the hook, as California law gives a three-year window for this kind of thing. A 33-year-old and a 15-year-old, however, is most definitely a crime.

  7. Brian Rust on January 10th, 2005 4:28 pm

    I’m having a little trouble discerning the point, too.

    FWIW, it probably wouldn’t take terribly serious “sexual” conduct to get a black kid expelled from a Christian school in Florida, especially once the baseball playoffs are over.

  8. Rob McMillin on January 10th, 2005 4:29 pm

    Never mind, I see it was Florida.

  9. Ralph Malph on January 10th, 2005 4:31 pm

    I don’t know about Florida but in my state a 17 year old can legally have sex with a 15 year old. There has to be an age difference of more than 3 years for it to be a crime.

    I’m just pointing out that you’re ASSUMING having sex with a 15-year old is a crime, which I don’t think is a valid assumption.

  10. Jim Thomsen on January 10th, 2005 4:34 pm

    Eh, I don’t want to write about that sort of thing, unless actual criminal charges are involved … and maybe not even then. But your point is well taken, Dave … I’ll definitely be spending more time at minor league ballparks this year, in and out of the press boxes, and watch for the sorts of things I haven’t much looked out for before.

    Bottom line: Character matters.

  11. DMZ on January 10th, 2005 4:34 pm

    I think my point’s clear in the post, I’m not going to say anything more about that.

    I’m just pointing out that you’re ASSUMING having sex with a 15-year old is a crime, which I don’t think is a valid assumption.

    Of course it is. They said that Lastings went into the program because he could have been prosecuted for that. Whether or not that’s why he did it, we don’t know of course.

  12. Brian Rust on January 10th, 2005 4:36 pm

    I agree, Dave, probably best to keep this stuff out of the media. Does that include the good ship USS Mariner?

  13. RealRhino on January 10th, 2005 4:39 pm

    #6 — NOW you tell me! j/k, of course.

    It is odd that BA would completely sweep it under. I would have been okay with “…charges, the most serious of which were never substantiated.”

  14. DMZ on January 10th, 2005 4:51 pm

    I agree, Dave, probably best to keep this stuff out of the media. Does that include the good ship USS Mariner?

    How clever.

    If the BA comment didn’t go out of its way to say that there was no evidence behind the allegations, I wouldn’t have posted. The point here is not to dredge his personal life, which has been previously dredged. It’s in the emphatic denial of something that clearly did happen and is public knowledge.

    I agree entirely with the previous commenter, who suggests an alternate ending. I don’t understand how something so clear and seemingly factual (but false) gets by a writer’s proof-reading and an editor, particularly given the nature of the content, where you’d think they’d be more careful, and the high-profile nature of the writeup.

  15. Aaron on January 10th, 2005 4:58 pm

    There was a young gal in some small Idaho town that was arrested for being pregnant a few years ago. It was illegal to have sex at any age out of wedlock, and since it was pretty clear that she did…. The charges were eventually dropped, but it just goes to show there are any number of zealous law enforcement officials out there, so I think just the fear that a person might be prosecuted is far from enough evidence to convict the kid in the court of public opinion.

  16. AK1984 on January 10th, 2005 5:00 pm

    Anyone who believes that anything should be “kept out of the media” is a fascist.

  17. Paul Molitor Cocktail on January 10th, 2005 5:25 pm

    Anyone who believes that anything should be “kept out of the media” is a fascist.

    In that case, why was Morse suspended?

    What was Rett Johnson’s “personal problem”?

    I’m not saying I want to know, but do you want to know?

  18. Bill on January 10th, 2005 5:29 pm

    Trying to fight through some of the ambiguities of BA’s wording…but if Milledge admits to having sex with his 15 year old girlfriend while a high school junior that means he was 16 or 17 at the time (he graduated HS in ’03 and was born 4/5/1985). Florida would have to have very strict laws for this to be illegal. I’m not saying it’s impossible that this would be illegal in Florida, it just seems unlikely.
    Perhaps the reasoning the Milledge camp gave for his attending the voluntary program was just noise and the real reason behind it actually didn’t involve the consensual sex he had with his girlfriend. I’m not going to conjecture as to what it may have been, but if you’ve read about Milledge you could probably take a few guesses. I really have no idea, all I’m saying is that I’m not sure we can take what the Milledge/Mets camp puts out at face value.

  19. Jim Thomsen on January 10th, 2005 5:32 pm

    Did you wash your hands before you left the restroom?

    Did you tell the truth to your girlfriend about where you were last Saturday night?

    Did you stick that milk carton back in the refrigerator after taking a drink straight from it?

    Did you reproduce the accounts, events and descriptions of a Mariners game without the expressed written permission of Major League Baseball?

    I’m favor of seeing these things “kept out of the media.”

  20. Marty Lighthizer on January 10th, 2005 5:34 pm

    Re: #16
    No, anyone who believes that absolutely everything is fair game for media scrutiny is insensitive.

    Dave’s comment in #5 is pertinent. In the real world (i.e., outside tell-all blogs, voyeur webcams, and video posts of the latest terrorist decapitation), writers have editors, and often what actually gets printed is a judgment call. Yes, let’s kill facism and support free speech, but please temper it with common sense.

  21. DMZ on January 10th, 2005 5:35 pm

    so I think just the fear that a person might be prosecuted is far from enough evidence to convict the kid in the court of public opinion.

    I’m not trying to convict him of anything. I only said I don’t know, and realistically — I won’t.

    Anyone who believes that anything should be “kept out of the media” is a fascist.

    This is a joke, right?

  22. roger tang on January 10th, 2005 5:44 pm

    Well, part of my point is why was this part of the report. I mean, sex with a 15 year old when you’re 16 is not great, but it really doesn’t attest to the character part of a player (And there could be a lot of different reasons why this was prosecuted, including a very mad father…which, I contend, does NOT attest to the character part of the player….)

  23. murton on January 10th, 2005 5:50 pm

    Could his 15-yr old girlfriend have been white? For those interracial and young relationships, in certain parts of the country, aren’t looked kindly on, including by some prosecutors.

  24. Jason B on January 10th, 2005 5:52 pm

    In Florida the “consent” of a girl under the age of 16 is not recognized in court. So a 16 y.o. boy can be prosecuted for sex with his 15 y.o. girlfriend if the parents pursue it.

  25. AK1984 on January 10th, 2005 6:14 pm

    Nah, it isn’t a joke. Benito Mussolini would have been in favor of either omitting or censoring news, as would any tyrannous contemporary of his. By saying that we as the public should not be in the know of something, no matter how tactless we may be for demanding said information, is fascist.
    If a person is a public figure, then he or she has no reason to expect any privacy. As it is, I would like to know what problems either Rett Johnson and/or Mike Morse have had, for a small amount of peoples’ tax dollars have gone to fund a stadium that ownership did not have to fully pay for, which indirectly means that a very small amount of peoples’ earnings paid for Johnson’s $50,000 salary in 2003 and 2004, as well as going to pay for Mike Morse’s $50,000 salary in 2005.

  26. Ralph Malph on January 10th, 2005 6:28 pm

    No privacy? Whatsoever?

    So you believe the White House should allow news photographers in the Bushes bedroom and bathroom to take pictures of them having sex and defecating, for those who might be interested.

    I think you are over-generalizing just a bit.

  27. Marty Lighthizer on January 10th, 2005 6:33 pm

    Re: #25
    I would like to know if and for how long in his career Barry Bonds took steroids.

    I would not like to know how many sexual partners Wade Boggs had during his career.

    The former is a genuine concern I have as a baseball fan. Interest in the latter is merely prurient and none of my (or really anybody else’s) business.

    Please AK1984, reserve your worries about censorship to instances where it really counts (the current U.S. administration is one place to start). But don’t insist on your right to know everything about Rett Johnson’s indiscretions. Public figures too should be entitled to some privacy.

  28. Chris S. on January 10th, 2005 6:50 pm


    Googled Florida’s laws. I believe someone 15 or younger can’t legally consent in Florida. Thus, if he had waited until her birthday, he would have been fine.

  29. DMZ on January 10th, 2005 7:03 pm

    Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand this thread is closed.