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Dave Winfield
Dave Winfield

Name: Dave Winfield
Born: October 3, 1951 in St. Paul, Minnesota
Primary Position: Left Fielder
Bats: R Throws: R Primary Uniform #: 31
Played For: San Diego Padres (1973-1980), New York Yankees (1981-1988, 1990), California Angels (1990-1991), Toronto Blue Jays (1992), Minnesota Twins (1993-1994), Cleveland Indians (1995)
Primary Team: New York Yankees 1

Post-Season: 1981 ALDS, 1981 ALCS, 1981 World Series, 1992 ALCS, 1992 World Series
Awards: All-Star (12): 1977-1988; Gold Glove (7): 1979-1980, 1982-1985, 1987 Hitting Elected to Hall of Fame by Baseball Writers in 2001, Player 435 votes on 515 ballots 84.47%
Quote:
"We all look up to him. I didn't realize he was such a great guy. As big a star as he is, he's pretty humble."
-- Catcher Brian Harper

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Biography:
Standing 6' 6" tall and weighing well over two hundred pounds, Dave Winfield looked like a Goliath in the batter's box and his offensive statistics certified his menace. Over his 22-year career Winfield amassed 3,110 hits, 465 home runs and 1,833 RBI’s, putting him in a class with the great modern sluggers. Furthermore, Dave Winfield's personality helped carry baseball through the 1980's. Few players had the largesse to be as involved with fans, ownership, the press and the local community as much as Dave.

David Mark Winfield was born October 3, 1951 in St Paul, Minnesota. He was one of the best players in Major League Baseball for two decades, and was involved in many well remembered incidents, some humorous and some controversial.

Dave Winfield grew up in St. Paul and earned a scholarship to the University of Minnesota, where he starred in both basketball and baseball for the Golden Gophers. After hitting and pitching the Gophers to the College World Series in 1973, he was drafted by the San Diego Padres, the Minnesota Vikings despite not playing college football, the Atlanta Hawks, and the Utah Stars of the ABA. He is one of only two men ever drafted in three different pro sports.

Dave chose baseball, and gained another distinction when the Padres promoted him directly to the majors. This is a rare move in modern baseball, making him one of a select few players since the origins of the amateur draft in 1965 to make the leap straight to Major League Baseball without playing in the minor leagues first. He proved up to the task, batting .277 in 56 games.

A true five-tool athlete, Dave Winfield played 22 seasons, earning 12 All-Star Game selections. He was an imposing figure and a durable strongman with the rare ability to combine power and consistency. In tours of duty with six major league teams, Dave batted .283, hit 465 home runs, and amassed 3,110 hits. He won the Gold Glove award seven times.

During his first years in San Diego, he was a good, but not great player, gradually increasing his power and hits totals. He burst into stardom in 1979, when he batted .308 with 34 home runs and 118 RBI, then played one more season with the Padres before becoming a free agent.

In 1981, New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner made headlines by signing Dave Winfield to a 10-year, $23 million contract, making him the game's highest-paid player. He was one of the best players in the game throughout the life of the contract, but soon had a falling out with Steinbrenner.

Dave helped the Yankees to the 1981 American League pennant, but then had a poor World Series, and the Yankees lost in six games to the Dodgers. A bitter Steinbrenner derided Dave by saying "I got rid of Mr. October (Reggie Jackson) and got Mr. May." The Mr. May sobriquet lived with him for the rest of his career.

Dave went on to hit 37 home runs in a spectacular 1982 season and batted .340, second in the league to teammate Don Mattingly, in 1984. He drove in 744 runs between 1982 and 1988, won five Gold Glove Awards for his stellar outfield play and was named to the All-Star Game every season.

On August 4, 1983, Dave Winfield, while warming up before the 5th inning of a game at Toronto's Exhibition Stadium, accidentally killed a seagull with a thrown ball. He doffed his cap in mock sorrow. Fans responded by hurling obscenities and improvised missiles. After the game, he was brought to the Ontario Provincial Police station on charges of cruelty to animals and was forced to post a $500 bond before being released. Quipped Yankees manager Billy Martin, "It's the first time he's hit the cutoff man." The charges were dropped the following day. For years afterward Winfield's appearances in Toronto were greeted with loud choruses of boos, but he later became a fan favorite.

In 1990, Steinbrenner was suspended from running the Yankees for two years because of his connections to a gambler, whom he'd paid to find embarrassing information on Dave Winfield. The year was no better for Dave, who sat out 1989 with an injury. The next year, he was traded to the California Angels.

Although in his late 30s, he was still a productive hitter. In 1992, he signed with the Toronto Blue Jays as their designated hitter, and batted .290 with 26 homers and 108 RBI. The Blue Jays won the pennant, giving him a shot at redemption for his previous late-season and post-season futility. In game 6 of the series, he delivered with a game-winning two-run double in the 11th inning to win the World Championship for Toronto.

He then spent 1993 and 94 with his hometown Minnesota Twins, achieving 3000 hits. In fact, Dave Winfield’s 3,000th hit drove in famous center fielder Kirby Puckett. He loved playing in Minnesota as a Designate Hitter and Minnesota fans loved having him.

Winfield retired in 1995 and was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2001, in his first year of eligibility.

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