Winfield, David Mark ("Dave")

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WINFIELD, David Mark ("Dave")

(b. 3 October 1951 in St. Paul, Minnesota), Hall of Fame baseball player who starred as a major league outfielder between 1973 and 1995.

Winfield is one of two sons of Frank Winfield, a dining car waiter, and Arline Allison Winfield, a public school system employee. After his parents separated in 1954, Winfield grew up with his mother and grandmother. He graduated in 1969 from St. Paul Central High School, making the all-state baseball team as a senior. Winfield attended the University of Minnesota from 1970 to 1973, majoring in political science and black studies, and participating in basketball and baseball. In 1973 he compiled a 13–1 record as pitcher, batted .385, clouted 9 home runs, and was named Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) College World Series.

The six-foot, six-inch, 220-pound Winfield was drafted by professional football, basketball, and baseball teams. The Minnesota Vikings selected him as an end even though he did not play college football. Since Winfield excelled as a basketball forward, the Atlanta Hawks of the National Basketball Association and the Utah Stars of the American Basketball Association also chose him. Though Winfield had not yet graduated from Minnesota, the San Diego Padres baseball club selected him in the first round of the June 1973 free agent draft.

Winfield, blessed with great speed and a powerful throwing arm, immediately joined San Diego as an outfielder and became the most prolific run producer in early franchise history, leading the Padres in runs batted in (RBI) six times (1974–1975, 1977–1980), home runs five times (1976–1980), runs scored five times (1974–1977, 1979), doubles and hits four times (1976–1979), stolen bases twice (1975–1976), batting average twice (1978–1979), and triples once (1979). He combined 20 home runs with 75 RBI in 1974 and knocked in 76 runs in 1975. In spite of missing the last month of 1976, Winfield hit .283 with 13 home runs and 69 RBI. In 1977 he set a Padres record by hitting in 16 consecutive games, clouted 25 home runs with 92 RBI, and made the first of 12 consecutive All-Star Game appearances.

After being named team captain, Winfield finished fifth in the National League with a .308 batting average in 1978 to help San Diego record its first winning season. He also paced the Padres with 181 hits, 24 home runs, and 97 RBI. His best San Diego season came in 1979, when he finished third in the National League Most Valuable Player balloting and became the first Padre voted to start an All-Star Game. Besides batting .308, Winfield led the National League with 118 RBI, 333 total bases, and 24 intentional walks and finished third with 34 home runs. He won National League Gold Glove awards in both 1979 and 1980 and made the Sporting News All-League team in 1979. In 1980 Winfield paced San Diego with 20 home runs. He ranks high on the all-time Padres lists in most offensive categories, ending his career in San Diego with a .284 average, 599 runs scored, 1,134 hits, 154 home runs, 626 RBI, and a .464 slugging percentage.

San Diego lost Winfield to free agency in December 1980. The Padres negotiated a contract renewal, but he demanded more money. When San Diego rejected his demands, Winfield left for the New York Yankees, who signed him to a ten-year contract worth nearly $25 million. Winfield played with the Yankees from 1981 through May 1990, increasing his regular season offensive production. However, he struggled in the 1981 playoffs against the Oakland Athletics and managed only one hit against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series.

In 1982 Winfield hit a career-high 37 home runs and knocked in 106 runs, the first of 5 consecutive seasons over the 100 RBI mark. He was the first Yankee since Joe DiMaggio to accomplish that feat. In 1984 Winfield finished second to Don Mattingly for the American League batting championship with a .340 average. He scored over 100 runs in 1984 and 1985 and ranked third in the league with 114 RBI in 1985. Winfield often saved games with his excellent defense, winning Gold Glove awards in 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, and 1987. Winfield was an American League All-Star from 1981 to 1988. Winfield married Tonya Turner on 18 February 1988. He had a daughter in a previous relationship.

In 1989 Winfield and the Yankee owner George Steinbrenner filed lawsuits against each other regarding payments to the Winfield Foundation, a fund that benefits underprivileged youth with free seats for baseball games, All-Star Game children's parties, and yearly scholarships. Winfield charged that Steinbrenner failed to make $450,000 in payments, while Steinbrenner claimed that his player failed to pay $300,000 in contractually committed donations. The controversy was settled out of court. Winfield agreed to pay $230,000 into the foundation and to reimburse it $30,000 for inappropriately expended funds.

A herniated disk sidelined Winfield for the entire 1989 season. In May 1990 the California Angels acquired him in a trade and agreed to extend his contract through 1991 at a $3.1 million salary. Winfield in 1990 led the Angels with 72 RBI, 63 runs scored, and a .466 slugging percentage. He was named Comeback Player of the Year by the Sporting News. On 24 June 1991 Winfield became the oldest player to hit for the cycle, that is, hitting a single, a double, a triple, and a home run in one game.

In December 1991 Winfield signed as a free agent with the Toronto Blue Jays. He batted .290 with 26 home runs and 108 RBI in 1992 and became the oldest player to record 100 or more RBI in a season, knocking in a record 32 runs in the month of August. Winfield clouted two home runs to help Toronto defeat the Oakland A's in the American League championship series. His two-run double in the eleventh inning of game six of the 1992 World Series gave the Blue Jays a 4–3 win over the Atlanta Braves and the world championship.

Winfield spent 1993 and 1994 with the Minnesota Twins. On 16 September 1993 he became the nineteenth major leaguer to attain 3,000 hits with a ninth-inning single off Dennis Eckersley of the Oakland A's. Winfield's major league career ended as a designated hitter with the Cleveland Indians in 1995. He settled in Fort Myers, Florida, where he and his brother Steve Winfield operate the Winfield Foundation.

During twenty-two major league seasons, Winfield batted .285 with 1,669 runs scored, 3,110 hits, and 223 stolen bases. His 1,093 extra-base hits included 540 doubles, 88 triples, and 465 home runs. He ranked among the top 20 in career games, at-bats, hits, home runs, total bases, and RBI. He was elected to the San Diego Padres Hall of Fame in 2000 and the National Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 2001, becoming just the fourth Padre so honored.

The Winfield file is at the National Baseball Library in Cooperstown, New York. Dave Winfield with Tom Parker, Winfield: A Player's Life (1988), and Dave Winfield with Eric Swenson, The Complete Baseball Player (1990), recount most of his major league career. For biographical information see Current Biography (1984) and Contemporary Black Biography, vol. 5 (1994). For Winfield's role with the Yankees see Mark Gallagher, The Yankee Encyclopedia, vol. 3 (1997). Pertinent articles include Ron Fimrite, "Good Hit, Better Man," Sports Illustrated (9 July 1979); Fimrite, "Richest Kid on the Block," Sports Illustrated (5 Jan. 1981); William Oscar Johnson, "Al Gave It His All," Sports Illustrated (5 Jan. 1981); David Whitford, "What Do You Think of Dave Winfield?," Sport (Oct. 1986); William Ladson, "The Sport Q & A: Dave Winfield," Sport (Aug. 1991); Rick Reilly, "I Feel a Whole Lot Better Now," Sports Illustrated (29 June 1992); and Tim Kurkjian, "Mr. Longevity," Sports Illustrated (27 Sept. 1993).

David L. Porter