By Devon POV Mason | Contributor
David Mark Winfield was born in the Rondo Community of St. Paul, MN. He’s one of the greatest five-tool baseball forces the game has ever seen.
He attended St. Paul Central High School Adams earned a scholarship to the University of Minnesota.
There he starred in both basketball and baseball for his hometown Gophers.
After hitting and pitching the Gophers to the College World Series in 1973, he was drafted by the San Diego Padres (MLB), Minnesota Vikings (He didn’t even play college football), the Atlanta Hawks (NBA), and the Utah Stars of the (ABA).
He is one of only two men to be drafted by three different professional sports. Winfield chose baseball and gained another distinction when the Padres promoted him directly to the Major Leagues.
This rare move in modern baseball made 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 minors leagues first. But Winfield proves up to the task, batting .277 in 56 games.
For the next several years, e gradually increased his power and hits. In 1979 he went from good to great, when he batted .308 with 34 home runs and 118 RBI. He then played one more season with the Padres before becoming a free agent.
In 1981, Winfield made headlines by signing a 10-year $23 million contract with the New York Yankees, a deal which made him the highest-paid in MLB at the time.
Winfield was one of the best players in the game throughout the life of the contract. He helped the Yankees to the 1981 American League Pennant, but then had a poor showing in the World Series, a six game loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
He bounced back in 1982 with a spectacular season hitting 37 home runs. He batted .340 in 1984, which was the second highest average in MLB, behind teammate Don Mattingly. Between 1982 and 1988 he drove in 744 runs, won five Gold Gloves, and was named to the All-Star Game every season.
On August 4, 1983, Winfield, while warming up accidentally killed a seagull with a thrown ball. Following the game he was brought to the Ontario Provincial Police station on charges of animal cruelty and forced to post $500 bond before being released.
Today in 1983, Dave Winfield kills a seagull with a pregame warmup throw in Toronto and gets arrested after the game. pic.twitter.com/d2D1HkRjC1
— Super 70s Sports (@Super70sSports) August 4, 2017
For years, following this incident Winfield’s appearances in Toronto entailed loud choruses of boos, but he later became a fan favorite with his championship leadership.
In 1989, Yankees owner George Steinbrenner was suspended from running the club following his connections to a gambler, whom he’d paid to find embarrassing information on Winfield. That year was no better for Winfield as he sat out due to injury. The following season he was traded to the California Angels, and although he was in his late 30’s, Winfield was still a productive hitter.
In 1992, he signed with the Toronto Blue Jays as their designated hitter, and batted a potent .296 with 26 homers and 108 RBI. The Blue Jays won the pennant, giving Winfield a shot at redemption after unfairly being labeled “Mr. May” by Steinbrenner during his Yankees tenure for past World Series failures.
In Game 6 of the World Series, he delivered with a game and championship winning two-run double to win the Fall Classic for the Blue Jays.
He then spent 1993 and ‘94 wit the hometown Minnesota Twins, where he achieved the 3000 hit plateau. He ended his playing career in Cleveland with the Indians.
Winfield retired in 1995 and was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2001, in his first year of eligibility.
He became the first player to choose to go into Cooperstown as a San Diego Padre, a move that reportedly irked Steinbrenner so much he tried to get the Hall of Fame to change its rules that did not allow the inductee to choose their team.
Dave Winfield is the best professional athlete to come from the state of Minnesota.
Yet he has another passion in which he has supported for 30 years; supporting the educational advances of young Blacks in his hometown of St Paul. The “Winfield Student-Athlete” annual awards are given out each June to 12 deserving boys and girls.
It recognizes and supports their academic choices to SOAR after leaving high school.
Jack Branby, a senior at @highlandsr_spps, was honored with the 2018 Dave Winfield Award. The #WinfieldAward is given to one outstanding female and one outstanding male student-athlete in St. Paul each year. Congrats, Jack! https://t.co/d9qXpsR1hD pic.twitter.com/8vZLqaZ5cB
— Saint Paul Public Schools (@SPPS_News) June 6, 2018
He’s also written two books: “Dropping The Ball: Baseball’s Troubles and How We and Must Solve Them” (2007) and “Making The Play: How to Get the Best of Baseball Back” (2008).