A California newspaper said it has received multiple threats over an article speculating that late Los Angeles Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs died of an opiod overdose — leading it to scrub the story from its website.
The Santa Monica Observer reported soon after Skaggs’ death that the 27-year-old pitcher — who was found dead July 1 in his room at the Hilton Southlake Hotel in Texas — may have been getting opiod prescriptions from multiple doctors who were unaware of each other’s treatments, Deadline reported.
Texas police quickly denied the report, saying there was no information yet that suggested an overdose or suicide.
An Angels spokeswoman also blasted the article as “categorically incorrect” and said the “reckless reporting from Tyler’s hometown paper is disappointing and harmful.”
The Observer eventually scrubbed the article of the opiod information but said its report had made “it clear the author is speculating,” according to Deadline.
In a Saturday op-ed titled “Why did we take down our original story about the death of a ballplayer?” the weekly’s publisher, David Ganezer, wrote that it was because the paper had been “attacked on multiple fronts.
“Not simply in the form of a threat letter from lawyers Kirkland and Ellis, representing the Angels and a certain deceased ball player. And not just in the form of anonymous phone calls and emails,” Ganezer said. “No, we also received multiple personal threats and attacks from anonymous sources.
“We’ll never know if they were actually acquainted with the deceased, fans or whatever. But I do know that a young female intern from our organization got a creepy text message on her phone, just after midnight,” Ganezer continued, explaining that he knows “how out of hand the potential pile-on is getting in this country.”
Ganezer added: “There are certain things worth risking your life and safety for, and others that just are not.”
The publisher concluded his op-ed by saying the Observer would comment further on the story when Skaggs’ autopsy and toxicology reports are issued in October.