How Baseball Star Rick Wise Ended Up Bankrupt

Athletes have been going broke and filing for bankruptcy for decades. The millions earned are blown through as the rich and famous buy huge mansions, luxury cars and jewelry, and spend the cash on maintaining a fancy lifestyle. Some of the most famous athletes to go bankrupt were boxer Mike Tyson, basketball player Dennis Rodman, football player Lawrence Taylor, and baseball player Lenny Dykstra. According to Sports Illustrated, a lot of former professional athletes will go broke or file for bankruptcy. They reported that some 78 percent of NFL players and 60 percent NBA players can reach that sad point within five years.

While there are no specific percentage numbers for baseball players, the MLB is far from safe from the phenomenon. After retirement, numerous former sluggers barely have the money that made them rich. For baseball player Rick Wise, he saw that path very early.

Wise made his debut in the league in 1964 at just 18 years old. He played for the Philadelphia Phillies, and later the St. Louis Cardinals. He would also go on to play for the Boston Red Sox, Cleveland Indians, and San Diego Padres. He left the game in 1982 when he retired. He was inducted into the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame (his home state; he grew up in Portland) in 1987. He should've retired quietly, but that wouldn't last.

Rick Wise files for bankruptcy

Wise spent 20 years playing baseball and was coaching minor league teams. But he ran out of money. In 1990 Wise, then 45 years old, and his wife filed for chapter 7 bankruptcy, reported United Press International. He had about $1.4 million in debt. Together the couple only had $101,000 in assets. And that wasn't their only issue; the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) was after them, too.

He apparently owed the federal tax agency $1.17 million in unpaid taxes from a 10-year period in his career, from 1975-1985. Adding to his troubles, tax agencies in Oregon and California were also hunting for their money from Wise's unpaid taxes. He was down and out — bad. Wise was working as a coach, but only making $29,000 a year. His wife went to work as a nurse after years of not being employed, according to The Hartford Courant.

But their financial troubles weren't their own doing. It was Wise's agent that led him down the path of bankruptcy. The couple entrusted their finances to agent LaRue Harcourt because he kept a thrifty lifestyle and didn't seem like a big spender, reported The Hartford Courant.

As it turns out, Harcourt was actually doing shady business dealings that would deeply hurt Wise financially. A portion of Wise's earnings were given to him, while Harcourt used the rest for his personal investments. Harcourt's plan to buy and lease planes was a bust, and a lot of money was lost as a result. Wise would lose a total of $3 million.