Koosman sentenced

A federal judge in Madison, Wis., on Thursday sentenced former major league pitcher Jerry Koosman to six months in prison for not paying his taxes.

Prosecutors say Koosman, a former All-Star who helped the New York Mets win the 1969 World Series, didn’t pay federal income taxes for 2002, 2003 and 2004. He pleaded guilty in May to willfully failing to file taxes for 2002, a misdemeanor, in a deal with prosecutors.

U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb found that Koosman cost the government as much as $80,000. She could have sentenced him to a full year in prison but chose to cut that in half and add a year of supervised release, during which probation agents will closely monitor his finances.

Prosecutors say Koosman has filed returns for the missing years but still owes the government about $65,000.

The judge scolded Koosman for taking advantage of all the opportunities the United States offered him, including the chance to play major league baseball and win a World Series, then walking away without paying.

“It is a serious blemish on an otherwise outstanding life,” Crabb told Koosman.

Koosman, 66, told IRS agents in 2006 that he had researched federal tax laws and concluded they applied only to federal employees, corporate workers and District of Columbia residents. During a May hearing, he told Crabb he was nave and fell in with the anti-tax movement.

His attorney, Robert Bernhoft, argued that Koosman deserved probation, pointing to letters to the judge that described him as an honest, reliable, nave farm boy. Koosman put his professional baseball career on hold to serve in the military and has performed too many charitable acts to list, Bernhoft added.

Koosman, now silver-haired but still tall with an athlete’s build, read a statement apologizing for his actions.

“I tend to trust people more than I should,” he said. “I shouldn’t have listened to those people about tax returns.”

Koosman played 19 seasons in the majors, including his first 12 with the Mets. He had a career record of 222-209 with a 3.36 ERA.

Crabb told Koosman to report to prison on Nov. 3. Koosman told reporters after the proceeding that he was sorry and had learned a lesson.

“Pay your taxes,” he said.

Janitor charged in Series ring theft

A janitor at the Philadelphia Phillies’ ballpark has been charged with stealing a diamond-laden World Series ring left by an executive in a park restroom.

The janitor works for a subcontractor that cleans Citizens Bank Park. He faces charges of theft and receiving stolen property.

A team marketing executive had removed the ring Monday, when the team was off. The ring was gone when he went back a half-hour later.

Police said surveillance tapes led them to the janitor, and they found the ring wrapped in a paper towel in his supply closet.

The ring is a keepsake from last year’s championship won versus the Tampa Bay Rays. It has 103 diamonds and is worth about $15,000.

Short hops

Tampa Bay Rays center fielder B.J. Upton left in the fifth inning of Thursday’s game against Boston with a sprained left ankle. Upton and left fielder Carl Crawford made contact on the warning track going after Dustin Pedroia’s fly ball with one out. Crawford caught the ball as Upton went down after taking an awkward step with his left foot. X-rays were negative, and Upton is day to day. … Texas Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton has a pinched nerve in his back. Hamilton, who pulled himself out of Texas’ 6-4 victory Wednesday over Toronto after four innings, was given an injection to reduce inflammation. He’s scheduled to fly to Baltimore today, where he’ll be re-examined to determine if he can play in the weekend series against the Orioles. … San Francisco Giants minor league pitcher Diego De La Cruz has been suspended 50 games after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance. Tests showed De La Cruz used the stimulant ephedrine. … Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield, out with a bad back, might be ready to start Saturday’s game against the Chicago White Sox. He threw a 25-pitch bullpen session Thursday and the Red Sox will wait to see how he feels today before making a decision.