David Mark Winfield
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 6", Weight 220 lb.
- School University of Minnesota
- Debut June 19, 1973
- Final Game October 1, 1995
- Born October 3, 1951 in St. Paul, MN USA
" . . . a true five-tool athlete . . . a complete player . . ." - from the page about Dave Winfield at the Hall of Fame website
Dave Winfield was a consistently productive and in his prime always dangerous player on both offense and defense, ringing up over 3,100 hits and 1,800 RBI in a 22-year Hall of Fame career. Though he had the tools to, the six-time Gold Glover and twelve-time All-Star never won an MVP award or led the league in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, home runs, doubles, triples, or runs scored. Still, he was both feared and coveted by rival teams.
Seven out of ten of the his most similar players are in Cooperstown, with Ken Griffey, Jr. a lock to follow and only PED-tainted Rafael Palmeiro and Gary Sheffield possibly falling short. The single most similar player is his contemporary Eddie Murray, who also had 3,000 hits and around 500 home runs. Winfield's career was characterized by movement: he is the only player in the 3000-hit club who had fewer than 1500 hits for each of the teams that he played for.
Following a standout collegiate career at the University of Minnesota, Winfield was drafted by four professional sports teams in three sports, including the Atlanta Hawks of the NBA, the Utah Stars of the ABA, the Minnesota Vikings of the NFL, and the San Diego Padres, which took him in the 1973 amateur draft. Ironically, he was valued as much as a pitcherthen as a hitter in college, and it was not clear what position he would play in the professional ranks, but the Padres wanted him as an outfielder. Choosing baseball, he never played a game in the minor leagues in a 22-season professional career. He was the best player on very weak Padre teams from 1973 to 1980 (only the 1978 edition of the team finished over .500 during that span). In 1979, he managed to lead the National League in RBI in spite of the fact that "he had no one to hit in front of him or behind him", as one sportswriter famously put it at the time. Combining explosiveness, marquee value, and excellent fielding, he made the All-Star team every year from 1977 to 1988.
On December 15, 1980, Winfield signed a record 10-year, $23 million contract with the New York Yankees. It was the longest and richest contract at the time. However, after a solid strike-shortened season in 1981, he had a terrible World Series, going 1 for 22 as the Yankees lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers in six games, prompting Yankees owner George Steinbrenner to call him sarcastically Mr. May, in a demeaning comparison with superstar Reggie Jackson who always seemed to save his best performances for the limelight. In spite of frequent highlights and occasional sustained excellence, the Yankees went into a downward cycle after Winfield's arrival and he was considered a disappointment by many fans. This included a career-high 37 home runs in 1982, a .340 batting average in 1984, and just three RBI short in 1987 of topping 100 RBIs in seven straight years from 1982 to 1988. Still, the home-grown Don Mattingly emerged as the Yankee fan favorite, foreshadowing Alex Rodriguez' experience two decades later.
In a widely-publicized incident, Winfield was arrested in Toronto in 1983 for killing a seagull in the outfield with a warm-up throw, but was later exonerated. He missed the entire 1989 season due to injury, then rebounded with a productive 1990, winning the AL Comeback Player of the Year Award for the California Angels after a trade for Mike Witt on May 11. DHing for the Toronto Blue Jays in 1992 he became the oldest player to drive in over 100 runs in a season, then avenged his 1981 World Series performance by providing some key hits in Toronto's triumph over the Atlanta Braves in the World Series.
After the 1992 season, Winfield left Toronto for the Minnesota Twins in a bid to collect his 3000th hit and finish his career in front of his hometown fans. He reached the first goal late in 1993, and was still a productive hitter when the strike cut short the 1994 season. With the Twins going nowhere, the 43-year old DH signed with the Cleveland Indians for a final shot at the post-season in 1995, but only hit .191 with no power in 46 games; he was not used in the post-season and retired.
In retirement, he worked in the front office of the San Diego Padres, holding the title of Executive Vice-President and senior adviser, and as a spring training instructor. In December of 2013, he joined the staff of the Major League Baseball Players Association as deputy to new executive director Tony Clark.
He has authored and co-authored numerous books, including Winfield: A Player's Life, Dropping the Ball, Ask Dave, Turn It Around: There's No Room Here for Drugs and The Complete Baseball Player.
- 12-time All-Star (1977-1988)
- 7-time Gold Glove Winner (1979-1980/NL, 1982-1985/AL & 1987/AL)
- 6-time AL Silver Slugger Award Winner (1981-1985/OF & 1992/DH)
- 1990 AL Comeback Player of the Year Award
- NL Total Bases Leader (1979)
- NL RBI Leader (1979)
- 20-Home Run Seasons: 15 (1974, 1977-1980, 1982, 1983, 1985-1988 & 1990-1993)
- 30-Home Run Seasons: 3 (1979, 1982 & 1983)
- 100 RBI Seasons: 8 (1979, 1982-1986, 1988 & 1992)
- 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 3 (1977, 1984 & 1985)
- Won a World Series with the Toronto Blue Jays in 1992
- Baseball Hall of Fame: Class of 2001
- Dave Winfield (as told to George Vass): "The Game I'll Never Forget", Baseball Digest, October 1993, pp. 27-29.