Getting a ballplayer to pay his landlord

Seven On Your Side
February 8, 2008 8:20:03 PM PST
It's a landlord-tenant dispute with big league twist. The landlord says he's owed thousands of dollars. As for the tenant, he happens to be a member of the New York Mets. So with pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training in a week, what better time for Tappy Phillips to make a pitch to get a landlord's money?

This is a baseball player's autograph that actually cost the recipient thousands.

Tappy: "How much money does he owe you?" Jay Chung, landlord: "$5,600, that's $2,800 per month, and that's two months."

Chung is talking about his former tenant, New York Mets pitcher Ambiorix Burgos.

Last winter, Burgos came to the Mets after a trade with Kansas City.

That's when Burgos signed a six-month lease to Chung's two-bedroom apartment, in a gated community, just minutes away from Shea Stadium.

But Burgos' gave up one too many bombs, so the Mets sent the hard-throwing righty to the minors.

Tappy: "So he moved out of here?" Chung: "Yes, he did." Tappy: "So did he keep paying rent here?" Chung: "Oh, no. Actually, I only got four months out of six months I was supposed to get."

Jay never re-rented the apartment. Today, the only reminder of the ballplayer is a Mets' schedule left hanging on the fridge.

"I called him many, many times, many more than 30 times," Chung said. "I left couple of messages, and I actually spoke to him a few times and he told me that the Mets were supposed to give him the money."

We called the Mets, and they agreed that Burgos would be reimbursed for his rent after he was sent to the minors, but only after he paid it first.

Burgos' agent, Dominic Torres, whose name is listed on the lease, told us Burgos never paid because Chung didn't make a "reasonable effort" to re-rent it as mandated by common law. But Chung disagrees.

Tappy: "So you did try to find somebody?"
Chung: "Yes, of course. The real estate agent listed the place again. And nobody came in."

But after Seven On Your Side's numerous calls to the player's agent, FedEx delivered the check.

Burgos' agent paid Chung in full, plus $200 in interest.