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Dave Winfield

Dave Winfield

Baseball Card featuring Dave Winfield

Position(s):
1B, CF, LF, OF, RF, DH, 3B
Born:
October 3, 1951
Bats:
Right
Throws:
Right
Height:
6' 6"
Weight:
220 lbs
Major League Debut:
6-19-1973 with SDN
Allstar Selections:
1979 GG, 1980 GG, 1981 SS, 1982 GG, 1982 SS, 1983 GG, 1983 SS, 1984 GG, 1984 SS, 1985 GG, 1985 SS, 1987 GG, 1992 BR, 1992 BRA, 1992 SS, 1994 RC
Hall of Fame:
2001

Intro

Playing primarily for the Padres and Yankees, tall, athletic Dave Winfield was a consistent run producer, though not enough of a winner to please New York fans. He was a phenomenal athlete, drafted to play professional basketball, football, and baseball. He lasted in the majors for more than two decades, ultimately collecting his 3,000th hit in his hometown - Minneapolis.

Unform Number

#31 (1973-1990, 1995), #32 (1990 Angels, 1991-1994)

Quotes About

"If a fellow can make a fortune somewhere else, let him go ahead." — Padres owner Ray Kroc on the prospects of signing Dave Winfield, 1980

Quotes From

"My favorite All-Star memory was when I was selected the second time, playing that game at home in San Diego. The applause at the old Murph, my home park at the time, was thunderous and long. In the All-Star Game, I got a lot of hits, won a lot of games, played with a lot of my idols and became friends. Once you step on the field, you've earned it. I would have gone to the All-Star Game any time. I was going to go no matter what." — Dave Winfield on his favorite All-Star Game memory

Replaced By

His last regular job was as the Twins' DH in 1994. In '95, the Twins used Pedro Munoz in that role.

Best Season

This season stands out not because Winfield was as mature as he would be, but rather because he was on a very poor team and excelled. He drove in 118 runs while the Padres scored just 603 times. He batted .308 with 34 homers, 27 doubles, 10 triples, 97 runs, 15 steals, and more walks than strikeouts. He was also the best defensive right fielder in the National League (apologies to Dave Parker).

Factoid 1

On June 24, 1991, against the Royals, Dave Winfield became the oldest man to hit for the cycle, at the age of 40.

Factoid 2

Dave Winfield played more than 1,100 games for both the Yankees and the Padres. Eddie Collins is the only other player to appear in as many games for two teams.

Transition

June 5, 1973: Drafted by the San Diego Padres in the 1st round (4th pick) of the 1973 amateur draft; October 22, 1980: Granted Free Agency; December 15, 1980: Signed as a Free Agent with the New York Yankees; May 11, 1990: Traded by the New York Yankees to the California Angels for Mike Witt; October 30, 1991: Granted Free Agency; December 19, 1991: Signed as a Free Agent with the Toronto Blue Jays; November 2, 1992: Granted Free Agency; December 17, 1992: Signed as a Free Agent with the Minnesota Twins; August 31, 1994: Purchased by the Cleveland Indians from the Minnesota Twins; October 17, 1994: Granted Free Agency; April 5, 1995: Signed as a Free Agent with the Cleveland Indians; November 6, 1995: Granted Free Agency. In June of 1984, Winfield vetoed a trade that would have sent him from the Yankees to the Texas Rangers for outfielder George Wright, infielder Larry Parrish and pitcher Danny Darwin. By the end of the season he was battling for the AL batting title, but owner George Steinbrenner never forgot Winfield's trade veto. Winfield said at the time: "The fact that he even thought of trading me shows the kind of mentality which is the reason we're in the position we're in now."

Strengths

Athleticism

Weaknesses

Despite his game-winning hit in the 1992 Series, Winfield was disappointing in the post-season, hitting .209 with nine RBI in 26 games.

Milestones

On September 16, 1993, as a member of the Twins, Winfield collected his 3,000th career hit, a single off A's reliever Dennis Eckersley.

The 1984 American League Batting Race

In 1984, the New York Yankees had two of the best players in baseball: Dave Winfield and Don Mattingly. Winfield was a veteran who had come to New York as a free agent and found it hard to compete with Reggie Jackson for respect. Mattingly was a young player in just his second season, and a fan favorite. That Summer and Fall the two players enjoyed tremendous seasons at the plate and found themselves battling each other for the American League batting title. It proved to be a controversial time in the always tumultuous Yankee organization. Winfield was no favorite of Yankee owner George Steinbrenner, who felt he had erred in signing the outfielder. In the 1981 post-season Winfield had performed so badly that Steinbrennar took to calling him "Mr. May," in obvious comparison to Jackson's status as "Mr. October." Fans began to turn on Winfield as well, feeling he was overpaid and hadn't delivered the pennants they had grown accustomed to. In June of 1984, Steibnrenner tried to deal Winfield to the Texas Rangers for Larry Parrish, Danny Darwin and George Wright, but Winfield vetoed the deal, saying "the fact that he even thought of trading me shows the kind of mentality which is the reason we're in the position we're in now." Mattingly was a young player who was still making one-tenth the money Winfield was paid. He was accepted by fans as the next in the long line of Yankee heroes. Some even suggested that the fact he was white made it easier for fans to root for him. At least one teammate, Don Baylor, suggested race as a contributing factor to the treatment of Winfield. As the season wound down to the final day, the batting race was undecided. In the Yankee clubhouse, players tried to stay neutral, but some of the younger players - teammates of Mattingly in the minors - couldn't help but root for the first baseman. Older players tended to side with Winfield. In the Yankee front office it was no secret who Steinbrenner favored - every effort was made to spotlight the season Mattingly was having. Winfield added fuel to the fire when he refused to pose for a picture with Mattingly during the chase. "You want to know why I don't want any part of it? Because they are turning this thing into a racial thing, pitting teammate against teammate, black against white. It's gotten so they're even trying to split the clubhouse up on it." In the final game at Yankee Stadium against the Detroit Tigers, Mattingly went 4-for-5 and beat out Winfield, .343 to .340. Fans gave Mattingly a standing ovation each time he came to the plate. Winfield was not greeted with the same reception. Mattingly would play for the Yankees for eleven more seasons. Winfield, despite steady production, was let go in the middle of the 1990 season after several battles with Steinbrenner.

Winfield vs. New York

Dave Winfield arrived in New York to play for the Yankees in 1981 with a world of expectation on his shoulders. His $23 million contract was the richest in baseball history. He was a great athlete who was coming into his prime years. The Yankees had been to the post-season four of the last five seasons and were primed to win again. "To a certain degree I'm in a no-win situation," Winfield said, "Even if I were to hit .350 and we didn't win, I'd hear that I didn't help the team. I just have to do the best I can and help the team and hope it wins. But this is the most exciting professional year of my life. To play with the Yankees, to show what I can do." Ironically, on opening day Winfield had the stage to himself. Yankee star Reggie Jackson remained in Florida recuperating from a calf injury. Thus all eyes were on the new Yankee legend-in-waiting. Would he join Reggie, Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth in Yankee glory? Winfield's 1981 season suffered from what ailed every player and team that season - the strike. He finished with a decent .294 average, 13 homers and 68 RBI. He also stole 11 bases in 12 attempts. The Yankees benefited from the split-season format and entered the playoffs as winners of the first half. In the Division Series they jumped on top of the Brewers, two games to none, only to be forced to win Game Five to advance. Winfield's .350 (7-for-20) performance was overshadowed by Jackson's two homers and four RBI. In the ALCS and World Series, Winfield went a dismal 3-for-35 (.086) with one extra-base hit and two RBI. The Yankees lost the title to the Dodgers in six games. Owner George Steinbrenner took note of Winfield's failure and never forgot. In the off-season Jackson left for California as a free agent and the Yankees truly became Winfield's team. He was now the "straw that stirred the drink" in the Bronx. He responded with perhaps his finest overall season, slugging .560 with 37 homers (the highest total by a right-handed Yankee hitter since DiMaggio), and 106 RBI in just 140 games. The Yankees, however, finished out of the race, and in what became a pattern, Winfield's efforts were virtually ignored by the front office. He followed that season with four more 100-RBI years, the first Yankee to do so since DiMaggio. In 1987 he dipped to 97 RBI before reaching the century-mark again in 1988. Winfield made the All-Star team in every one of his eight full seasons in pinstripes (1981-1988), stretching his streak to 12 seasons. In 1984 he and teammate Don Mattingly battled for the AL batting crown, a race that lasted until the final day. In more fuel for his fiery days in the Bronx, Mattingly won the title and Winfield's feelings were hurt when fans failed to give him the ovation his teammate received upon the occasion. During his eight seasons as a regular in New York, only two players in the AL collected more hits than Winfield (Robin Yount and Eddie Murray). Only Yount and one-time teammate Rickey Henderson scored more runs; only Murray and Dwight Evans hit more homers; only Murray had more total bases; and no player drove in more runners than Winfield over that stretch (812). Despite these accomplishments, Winfield's time as a Yankee was grueling and controversial. Almost immediately, Steinbrenner and Winfield butted heads over his contract, which called for cost-of-living increases. Steinbrenner had underestimated the value of the cost-of-living arrangement and refused to pay the fair amount. He ripped Winfield in the newspapers as selfish and claimed he wasn't the ballplayer Jackson had been. Later the two men would end up in court over alleged missed payments to Winfield's foundation. The sordid mess resulted in Winfield and Steinbrenner's refusal to speak to each other. The Yankee owner took every opportunity to defame Winfield. In 1986 he ordered manager Lou Piniella to platoon Winfield. When Piniella refused, Steinbrenner was furious. More than once, Steinbrenner tried to trade Winfield, but due to his status as a 10-and-5 man (ten seasons in the majors with at least five with his current team), it was impossible. In the Spring of 1988 the Yankees really shopped Winfield, due in large part to his impending autobiography. Steinbrenner had traded Sparky Lyle and Graig Nettles in the seasons their books had been published. In 1989, Winfield suffered a herniated disc which kept him out of the lineup all season. He returned in 1990 but struggled as a designated hitter. In May he was traded to the Angels, but in typical fashion the deal was controversial, resulting in the commissioner intervening. Winfield ended up in California and earned Comeback Player of the Year honors for his efforts. At last he was free of Steinbrenner, and his days as a Yankee were over.

Notes

When told that he was the leading vote-getter for the 1984 AL All-Star team, Winfield responded, "That's the way it should be." ... In the late 1970s, Winfield had a clause in his contract with San Diego that he had to be consulted if the team was to be sold.

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Tagged:
1981 World Series, 1991 World Series, 1993 World Series, Baseball History, California Angels, Dave Winfield, Gold Glove, Hall of Fame, Minnesota Twins, New York Yankees, San Diego Padres, Toronto Blue Jays
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