Gary Sheffield

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Gary Antonian Sheffield

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Biographical Information[edit]


Gary Sheffield is the nephew of Dwight Gooden. Gooden and Sheffield are also neighbors, living on the same block in Tampa, Florida. Sheffield was a highly touted "can't miss" prospect from the time he was in high school.

In the 1980 Little League World Series, Sheffield played for the Tampa team that set a new Little League World Series record for average (.449). His teammates included Derek Bell and Ty Griffin. Sheffield set a Series record with four doubles. In the finale, Sheffield hit third and went 1 for 3 with a run in a 4-3 loss to Taiwan's Hualien County. He had two passed balls at catcher.

First signed as a 1st round pick in the 1986 amateur draft by the Milwaukee Brewers and scout Jim Gabella and scouting director Dan Duquette, he was considered to be Robin Yount's successor as the team's big star, but things did not work out well. Sheffield became unhappy with playing conditions for the Brew Crew and later confessed that he deliberately committed errors in order to be traded to some other team. He was named The Sporting News Player of the Year in 1992 after a breakout year with the San Diego Padres. After helping the Florida Marlins win the 1997 World Series, he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1998 as part of the Marlins' fire sale. He had earlier also been traded during the Padres' fire sale of 1993. One of the players acquired by the Padres in the 1993 trade was Trevor Hoffman, one of the greatest relievers in major league history, who remained with the San Diego Padres through the 2008 season. When Sheffield was traded by the Marlins in 1998, they received Mike Piazza in return, but the great catcher was only a Marlin for a week.

Sheffield had an odd batting stance in which he violently shook the bat back and forth. He swung very hard yet amazingly, he did not strike out much. He had great power and could hit for average while drawing walks. Originally an infielder, he was moved to the outfield and in his prime was average in the field, though he had a very strong but not always accurate arm. He became a full-time designated hitter around 2006, as his fielding skills eroded with age.

Sheffield created a stir in 2007 when he claimed in a GQ interview that the number of African-American players was declining because Hispanic players are easier for "The Man" to control whereas American black players demand more respect.

Sheffield hit 19 home runs in 2008 for the Detroit Tigers to finish the season with 499 career home runs. Sheffield hit the official 250,000th home run in MLB history on September 8th of that year. In fine fashion, it was a grand slam, the 13th of his career. 12 years earlier on the same date, Sheffield hit the home run that established 1996 as the top home-run season ever (to that point). His career achievements have been somewhat clouded as a result of playing during baseball's "Steroid Era".

He was unexpectedly released (with $14 million remaining on his contract) towards the end of spring training in 2009, and was picked up by the New York Mets to be used as a reserve outfielder and pinch hitter. Sheffield hit his 500th major league home run (making him the 25th player to reach the mark) for the Mets at Citi Field on April 17th as a pinch hitter in the 7th inning, off relief pitcher Mitch Stetter of the Milwaukee Brewers. He was the first player to hit his 500th home run as a New York Met. Duke Snider and Eddie Murray had hit their 400th home runs while wearing the Mets' uniform. Ironically, the Brewers were his original team, but they then played in the American League. Sheffield, in 1988, hit the first teenage home run since Robin Yount in 1975, who also did it with the Brewers (who switched from AL to NL in 1998).

Sheffield became only the third major league player to hit one or more home runs as a teenager and after turning 40, joining Ty Cobb (1927) and Rusty Staub (1984). Staub also had hit his home run as a 40-year-old while playing for the New York Mets.

For a player of his accomplishments, he did poorly in voting for the Hall of Fame at first: he received only 11.7% of the vote in his first year of eligibility in 2015 and failed to move up at all in 2016. In 2017, he was still at 13.3%, and at 11.1% in 2018. He was not the only player to suffer from a succession of very strong ballots: Jeff Kent, Larry Walker and Fred McGriff were suffering the same fate. Many analysts were pointing out three elements working against him: the bulk of his hitting accomplishments came in a high-offense era; he was one of the players tainted by allegations of PED use (his name was in the Mitchell Report); and his defensive play was well below average. In 2019, when others in his situation started to move up, some quite significantly, he remained stalled at 13.6%, but in 2020, he jumped up all the way to 30.5% and in 2021 he took another big step forward, to 40.6%. However, he stalled at that same number in 2022. With a number of big names linked to the steroid era falling off the ballot after that year, he was able to make a big gain in 2023, to 55%, but by then he had only one year remaining on the BBWAA ballot. He made one more big push forward in 2024, ending up on 63.9% of the ballots, but it was not quite enough to gain election as consideration of his candidacy now moved to the Veterans Committee. His was one of the highest percentage of votes ever obtained from the BBWAA by a player who failed to gain election.

Despite declarations to the contrary, he is not the uncle of Justus Sheffield. [1]. He has worked as a player agent in retirement, representing Jason Grilli, and as an analyst for MLB on TBS.

Notable Achievements[edit]

Further Reading[edit]

  • Tom D'Angelo (Palm Beach Post): "Gary Sheffield says he belongs in Baseball Hall of Fame: 'It's good to get all the facts straight'", Yahoo! News, January 31, 2023. [2]
  • Theo DeRosa: "4 reasons Gary Sheffield belongs in the Hall",, December 29, 2023. [3]
  • Steve Gardner (USA Today): "Hall of Fame 2023: Gary Sheffield had a rare combination of power, plate discipline", Yahoo! News, January 16, 2023. [4]
  • Thomas Harrigan: "Sheffield's final percentage among highest of those not elected",, January 23, 2024. [5]
  • Matt Kelly: "Sheffield aims for HOF election in final year on ballot",, November 25, 2023. [6]
  • Gabe Lacques: "Hall of Fame countdown: Gary Sheffield has credentials, but repels voters young and old", USA Today Sports, January 11, 2018. [7]
  • Gabe Lacques: "Baseball Hall of Fame: Gary Sheffield's Cooperstown drive about to hit a higher gear", USA Today, January 9, 2020. [8]
  • Bill Ladson: "In final year on ballot, Sheffield gives his Hall of Fame case",, December 18, 2023. [9]
  • Joe Posnanski: "At plate, Sheffield struck fear in foes: Slugger compiled great career numbers with offensive prowess",, January 18, 2018. [10]
  • Paul White: "Hall of Fame case: Gary Sheffield's candidacy up for debate", USA Today Sports, January 2, 2015. [11]

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