Winfield, Dave 1951–
Dave Winfield 1951–
Professional baseball player
Dave Winfield has been a top-performing professional baseball player for two decades. His turbulent career has included multiple seasons with the San Diego Padres and the New York Yankees, but he earned his first World Series victory as a member of the 1992 Toronto Blue Jays. A Sports Illustrated correspondent wrote: “Winfield has been around so long he can remember when kids came up to ask him for his autograph just to keep it. At 39 he became the oldest man to hit for the cycle.... He still has that royalty to him, that unmistakable grace and fluidity. He has won seven Gold Gloves. At an age when most guys take a commercial and a half to get from the fridge to the couch, Winfield still has a move from first to third that can bring tears to the eye of a track coach.”
Indeed, Winfield has overcome serious injury and the inevitable encroachment of middle age to perform at his best in the twilight of his career. During mid-season of the year when he would find himself on a winning World Series team, he told Sports Illustrated: “For the last few years people have seen me and acted surprised that I’m still playing. Still playing? I’m kicking butt.”
Winfield ranks among the top twenty all-time leaders in runs batted in, extra bases, and home runs. He was named to the All-Star game a dozen years in a row and won seven Gold Glove Awards for defensive play in the outfield. Impressive though his records are, Winfield contends they might even have been better. His prime years were spent in the New York Yankees organization, in the steely grip of Yankees owner George Steinbrenner. The strife between the two began almost upon Winfield’s arrival in New York and lasted literally for years, because Winfield had the power to veto proposed trades to other teams. Worse, Winfield found his private life dragged into court—and the headlines—by a woman who claimed to be his common-law wife, and even his charitable organization, the David M. Winfield Foundation, was scrutinized by the media. Through it all, Winfield pressed on, playing in more than 2600 games and hitting well over 400 home runs. Still he could not hide his frustrations, telling Sports Illustrated: “Only I know how much better I could have been without all the distractions.”
At a Glance…
Born David Mark Winfield, October 3,1951, in St. Paul, MN; son of Frank (a waiter) and Arline (a public school system employee) Winfield; married Tonya Turner, February 18, 1988; children: (by previous relationship) Lauren Shanel. Education: Attended University of Minnesota, c. 1970-73.
Professional baseball player, 1973—, Played for San Diego Padres, 1973-80, New York Yankees, 1981-89, California Angels, 1990-91, Toronto Blue Jays, 1992, and Minnesota Twins, 1993—. Founder of David M. Winfield Foundation, a charitable organization.
Selected awards: Elected to All-Star lineups from San Diego and New York 12 times, 1977-88; winner of Gold Glove Award for defensive play 7 times; YMCA Brian Piccolo Award for humanitarian services, 1979; named “Comeback Player of the Year” by the Sporting News, 1990.
Addresses; Home —Peaneck, NJ. Office —c/o Minnesota Twins, Metrodome, 501 Chicago Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN 55415.
passenger trains. When Winfield was three, his parents separated. His mother took a job in the St. Paul public school system and endeavored to raise Dave and his older brother Steve alone. As a Sports Illustrated reporter noted: “The family of three living on Carroll Avenue in St. Paul turned their row house into a fortress. They learned to rely on one another, to need nobody else. So attached was David to his mother that, when it came time to go to college, he enrolled at [the University of] Minnesota so that he could live at home.… David was the kind of boy who took his mother’s elbow as she walked, the kind who revered her every step.”
As Winfield remembered it in a Sports magazine interview, his youth was quite ordinary. “Considering that we grew up in a broken home, we had a happy childhood because of the love and affection our mother gave us,” he said. When the Winfield brothers did venture out, they usually strayed no farther than the Oxford Playground in the next block. There they were befriended by Bill Peterson, the playground director, who encouraged them to play basketball and baseball. “Bill Peterson was a white man in the black community,” Winfield recalled in the interview, “but he gave more to that community than anyone I know. To me, at different times, he was coach, friend, father, all rolled into one.” The guidance he received as a youngster was not lost on Winfield. When he became a top-earning major league baseball player he founded an organization to help needy children, especially those in San Diego and New York City.
Hard as it may be to believe, Winfield—who now stands 6 foot 6 inches—was small for his age as a teen. He did not even try out for the varsity baseball team at St. Paul’s Central High School until he was a junior. A phenomenal growth spurt helped him to catch up with his peers, and by his senior year he was All-City and All-State in both basketball and baseball. His talent attracted baseball scouts, and upon graduating from high school he was offered a contract with the Boston Red Sox. He decided to go to college instead, because he had heard that blacks were treated harshly in the smaller towns where minor league baseball was played.
The University of Minnesota offered Winfield a scholarship, and he declared a double major in political science and black studies. Trouble found him after his freshman year. He was arrested as an accomplice in the theft of a snowblower from a Minneapolis store, and he was taken to jail. The experience changed him for life. “My mother came to the jail and there were tears in her eyes,” he said in Sport. “I pledged to my mother that I would never do anything like that again, ever. I was lucky. They let me go. But I was on probation the rest of my time in college. I feel that shame burning through me again, just by telling the story now for print. But I do it so that kids can know what a terrible feeling it is to do something so stupid and wrong and how awful it is to hurt someone who has loved you and cared for you.”
As a college sophomore Winfield became a starting pitcher for Minnesota, winning 8 of 11 outings. He moved to the outfield the following year after an arm injury. By his junior year Winfield was playing both basketball and baseball. In his senior year the Gophers won both the Big Ten basketball championship and the Big Ten baseball championship. Returning to the mound, Winfield had a 13-1 season while hitting .385. He was named Most Valuable Player in the National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament and received collegiate All-American honors.
The decision to attend college proved immensely fruitful for Winfield. In 1973 he was drafted in three major sports: baseball (by the San Diego Padres), basketball (by the Atlanta Hawks in the NBA and the Utah Stars in the ABA), and football (by the Minnesota Vikings). The attention from the Vikings was particularly astonishing, because Winfield had never played football in college. Even so, the NFL coaches felt he might excel as a receiver. But Winfield chose the Padres baseball team and embarked for California. He never spent a day in the minor leagues. His starting salary was $18,000 with a signing bonus of $50,000.
A franchise that struggled in those days, the Padres allowed Winfield to improve his talents in the big league arena. His pitching aspirations were quickly put to rest, and he became an outfielder. The club management found his ability as a hitter quite encouraging. During his rookie season he batted .277, and over the next four years he never batted below .260. At first he was plagued by streaks—brilliant hitting followed by long slumps at the plate. Coaches worked with him consistently, and he learned the art of prolonged concentration. In 1978 he batted .308, went to his second All-Star Game, and was named Padres team captain. The following year he again batted over .300 and won his first Gold Glove Award.
In the late 1970s Winfield became acquainted with a retired businessman named Albert S. Frohman. Frohman began to advise Winfield on money management and then offered to be his agent. Winfield accepted. Sports Illustrated described the unlikely friendship that would lead Winfield into trouble: “An odder pair of friends you couldn’t invent. Winfield was tall, sleek and gorgeous. Frohman, who was short and wrinkled, looked like 10 pounds of Malt-O-Meal stuffed into a five-pound bag. Frohman ate badly, blew his stack readily and had had his tact removed surgically. Everybody, or so it seemed, took an instant dislike to him, just to save time. Everybody, that is, except Winfield.”
Frohman helped nurture the idea that Winfield’s talents were being wasted in San Diego. In 1979, when Winfield became eligible for free agency, the abrasive agent engineered a deal with the New York Yankees. At the time the Winfield contract broke all the records. It was a ten-year deal with cost-of-living escalators, a million dollar signing bonus, and a built-in $300,000 yearly contribution to the David M. Winfield Foundation, Winfield’s charity for inner city children. The whole package would cost George Steinbrenner close to $25 million. Everyone was happy when the deal was announced and the contract was signed on December 15, 1980. But the troubles began almost immediately.
Steinbrenner claimed that he did not understand the cost-of-living increases Frohman had written into the contract. Winfield was caught in a crossfire between his agent and the irritable Yankees owner, who began trading insults in the mass media. “After less than a year of Winfield/Frohman, Steinbrenner was trying to burn rush them both out of the Big Apple,” noted a Sports Illustrated correspondent. “He started trashing Winfield in the papers, especially after Winfield led the Yankees into the 1981 World Series and then went 1 for 22.” Comparing Winfield to former Yankee Reggie Jackson—called “Mr. October” for his stellar postseason performances—Steinbrenner dubbed Winfield “Mr. May” and accused him of choking. The following year Steinbrenner quit making contributions to the Winfield Foundation. Winfield sued.
The tension filtered down into the locker room, where fearful managers dared not praise Winfield to reporters, and other players tried to avoid taking sides. One year the Yankees did not even submit Winfield’s name for the All-Star ballot, although he was one of the team’s biggest stars. “There is no way to fathom what was being done to me,” Winfield told Sports Illustrated. “It was immoral, improper and reprehensible. It was a battle for everything, your performance, your credibility. Do you know what it’s like to have people fooling with your career?” Steinbrenner tried to trade Winfield repeatedly, but a clause in Winfield’s contract allowed the player to veto the trades. “I have had to fight adversity and animus, and I’ve answered: one, by the way I play, two, by speaking up when nobody else would, and three, by taking [Steinbrenner] to court and winning the money he owes the Winfield Foundation,” the player stated in 1984.
Winfield had strong allies among Yankee fans, especially at first. After all, he was the first Yankee since Yogi Berra to get at least 100 runs batted in every year for five consecutive years. In 1984 he ran a tight race for American League batting champion and lost—to fellow Yankee Don Mattingly. By the mid-1980s, however, his popularity had begun to erode. First he was taken to court by a woman who claimed to be his common-law wife. She was awarded a settlement and support for her daughter, whom Winfield has never denied parenting. Then independent auditors began to examine the finances of the Winfield Foundation, casting a shadow on a charity that had sent more than a half million children to ballparks, zoos, and plays for free. And in 1985, the mother-in-law of former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson sued Winfield on the charges that he had given her a venereal disease. Winfield denied the charge and settled the case out of court.
Throughout all the years of screaming headlines, scandals, and bitter disputes with Steinbrenner, Winfield somehow managed to maintain his cool on the baseball field. He was blessed with stamina and a body not prone to injuries, enabling him to start almost every day, year after year. In 1988, for instance, his .322 batting average was fourth highest in the American League. He continued to be known as a power hitter who could knock long balls in a home ballpark with one of the deepest outfields in the major leagues. Still, the stresses of life began to tell on the aging star. He began to question Frohman’s management of his assets and the Foundation’s top-heavy bureaucracy. Then, in what amounted to a last blast at Steinbrenner, he published an autobiography, Winfield: A Player’s Life. The book enraged Steinbrenner and alienated some of the other Yankee players.
In 1989 Winfield suffered the first major injury of his career. He underwent surgery to remove fragments of a herniated disk from his back and missed an entire season of baseball. When he returned to the field in 1990, he was finally traded—to the California Angels. There he led the team in runs batted in (78), finished second in home runs (21), and batted .290 after the All-Star break. The Sporting News named him “Comeback Player of the Year.” In 1991 he batted only .262 but hit 28 home runs.
Winfield signed with the Toronto Blue Jays as a free agent in the winter of 1992. Married and developing a relationship with his natural daughter, he seemed finally to be enjoying baseball, enjoying the new city, and especially enjoying the prospects of advancing to the World Series. He told Sports Illustrated: “I’ve been thinking about this. If my career had ended [before Toronto], I wouldn’t have been really happy with what baseball dealt me. I would have had no fulfillment, no sense of equity, no fairness. I feel a whole lot better now about the way things have turned out.” Winfield’s happiness turned to open enthusiasm in the 1992 World Series, when his double in the 11th inning of Game Six drove in the winning runs and gave the Jays the crown.
Dave Winfield finally has the World Series victory he always yearned for. He has played long enough to see former teammates become big league managers, and his long years of turmoil in New York are now the stuff of history. In 1993 he began his 20th major league season—having signed with the Minnesota Twins—remarkably spry and free of injuries. It is fitting that Winfield’s singular career has brought him full circle, back to the region from which he launched himself years ago. Now in the twilight of his playing days—and a certain candidate for the Baseball Hall of Fame—Winfield can look back with satisfaction. “Always wanted to live that 3-D life,” he told Sports Illustrated. He has done exactly that.
Winfield, Dave, Winfield: A Player’s Life, Avon, 1989.
New York Times, June 1, 1975, p. 3.
New York Times Magazine, March 29, 1981, p. 25.
Sport, December 1975, p. 69.
Sports Illustrated, September 10, 1984, p. 20; April 11, 1988, p. 36; May 30, 1988, p. 62; June 29, 1992, p. 56; November 2, 1992, p. 18; December 28, 1992, p. 12.
American baseball player
Baseball player Dave Winfield is one of only a handful of players to achieve 3,000 hits and 400 home runs in his career, joining other Hall of Famers Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Stan Musial, Mel Ott, Frank Robinson , and Carl Yaztrzemski. Winfield also won seven Gold Glove awards for his outfield skills during his twenty-two-season career. A 6'6", 220 lb. giant at the plate, he ranks among the top twenty all-time leaders in home runs, extra bases, and runs batted in. He remains the only athlete to be drafted in college by pro baseball, basketball, and football clubs. He became the first professional athlete to form a charitable organization when he founded the David M. Winfield Foundation in 1977 to help inner-city children.
David Mark Winfield was born October 3, 1951, the son of Frank Winfield, a waiter on passenger trains, and Arline Winfield, a public school employee. His parents separated when Dave was three, and his mother raised him and his brother, Steve, alone. They lived in a black community in St. Paul, Minnesota. The three were a very closely knit family, and the boys never strayed farther than a nearby playground. There, director Bill Peterson, who was white, encouraged the neighborhood children to play baseball and basketball. Winfield later said of Peterson, "He gave more to that community than anyone I know. To me … he was coach, friend, father, all rolled into one."
Small for his age, Dave did not try out for the baseball team at St. Paul's Central High School until his junior year. A tremendous growth spurt helped him achieve All-City and All-State honors in both baseball and basketball by his senior year, and after graduation he was offered a scholarship to the University of Minnesota. He continued to live at home and majored in political science and black studies. During his freshman year, he was arrested as an accomplice in the theft of a snowblower from a store. When his mother came to escort him from an overnight stay in jail, she was crying, and Winfield was ashamed and remorseful that he had hurt her. He remained on probation throughout college.
Blossoming Sports Career
At the University of Minnesota, Winfield's career in sports began to blossom. As a sophomore, he was a starting pitcher who won eight out of eleven outings. In his junior year he moved to the outfield and played both baseball and basketball. He pitched again during his senior year and hit .385. The Minnesota Gophers won both the Big Ten basketball and the Big Ten baseball championships during Winfield's senior year. He was named Most Valuable Player in the National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament and received collegiate All-American honors.
On graduation, in 1973, Winfield was drafted by the San Diego Padres baseball team, the Atlanta Hawks and
the Utah Stars basketball teams, and the pro football team Minnesota Vikings, even though he had never played football in college. He chose the Padres and received a $50,000 signing bonus plus $18,000 a year in salary. At San Diego, he gave up pitching and became an outfielder. His batting was both brilliant and lagging during his rookie years. With consistent coaching, however, by 1978 he batted .308 and was named team captain. He also played his second All-Star game, and in 1979 he won his first Gold Glove award.
In 1977, Winfield established a charitable foundation designed to mentor and guide inner-city youths, much as Peterson had done for him and his brother. The David M. Winfield Foundation has since expanded to include health and nutrition, literacy, sports and fitness programs, community holiday celebrations, and a drug abuse prevention program. Although many sports figures have since become involved in charity work, Winfield was the first to do so when he founded his organization during the 1970s.
Difficult Decade with the Yankees
In 1978, Winfield met the aggressive Albert S. Frohman, a retired businessman who would become his agent. Frohman encouraged Winfield to leave the Padres and move up to the New York Yankees. He managed to get Winfield a ten-year contract with the Yankees, a $1 million signing bonus and regular contributions to the Winfield Foundation. The deal also included a cost-ofliving pay increase, which Yankee owner George Steinbrenner later said he had not fully understood at the time of the contract. The deal was signed on December 15, 1980. Things seemed to go wrong from the time Winfield signed it.
Unhappy with the costly contract, Steinbrenner began to insult Winfield in the media. When he failed to perform well in the 1981 World Series, Steinbrenner called him "Mr. May," in contrast to former Yankee Reggie Jackson , whose World Series game hits were so outstanding he had earned the nickname "Mr. October." Steinbrenner also stopped making his agreed-on contributions to the Winfield Foundation, but Winfield sued his boss to get the money owed the organization.
|1951||Born October 3 in St. Paul, Minnesota|
|1971||While a student at University of Minnesota, arrested in snowblower theft|
|1973||Drafted by San Diego Padres (baseball), Atlanta Hawks and Utah Stars (basketball), and Minnesota Vikings (football); chooses Padres and moves to California with $50,000 signing bonus|
|1977||Founds David M. Winfield Foundation|
|1978||Named Padres captain; meets businessman Albert S. Frohman, who becomes his agent|
|1980||As free agent, signs ten-year contract with New York Yankees on December 15|
|1984||Narrowly loses race with Yankee hitter Don Mattingly for American League batting champion; woman claiming to be Winfield's common law wife sues for support of her daughter; David M. Winfield Foundation is audited for suspected financial misconduct|
|1985||Woman sues Winfield on charges that he gave her venereal disease|
|1988||Marries Tonya Turner on February 18—they will have twins; publishes controversial autobiography, Winfield: A Player's Life|
|1989||Undergoes back surgery and misses a season of baseball|
|1990||Traded to the California Angels|
|1992||As free agent, signs with Toronto Blue Jays; Blue Jays win World Series after Winfield's double in 11th inning of sixth game drives in winning runs|
|1993||Signs with Minnesota Twins|
|1995||Plays 46 games with Cleveland Indians|
|1996||Retires from baseball; joins FOX-TV as baseball analyst|
|2001||Inducted into Baseball Hall of Fame|
|2002||Named vice president/senior advisor of the San Diego Padres|
In addition to these actions, Steinbrenner tried several times to trade Winfield, but his contract gave him the ability to veto the trades. Managers and coaches were fearful of praising Winfield's performance in the media, believing it would anger Steinbrenner. The fans, however, were pleased with the fact that Winfield got at least 100 runs batted in every year for five years. He was the first to do so since Joe DiMaggio . Winfield's struggle later came out in his autobiography, Winfield: A Player's Life, which is said to have infuriated Steinbrenner.
In addition to troubles with his boss and the team, Winfield faced personal assaults during the Yankee years as well. In the mid-1980s a woman took him to court for support of her daughter, of whom Winfield did not deny paternity. He later came to establish a good relationship with the girl. In 1985, another woman sued Winfield, claiming he had given her venereal disease; this was settled out of court. Around the same time, an investigation was launched into the Winfield Foundation's finances, for alleged wrongdoing.
Through the troubles, Winfield continued to play his best baseball, batting .322—the fourth highest in the American League—in 1988. Rarely succumbing to injury, Winfield in 1989 had surgery for a herniated disk in his back and missed the entire baseball season. The following year, after a decade with the Yankees, he was traded to the Anaheim, California, Angels.
A New Lease on His Career
Winfield did well with the Angels, leading the team in runs batted in and batting .290. Sporting News named him "Comeback Player of the Year." In early 1992 he signed with the Toronto Blue Jays as a free agent. In Game Six of the 1992 World Series, with the score tied 2-2, men on first and second and two outs, Winfield hit a double down the third base line, bringing two men home and helping Toronto to a 4-3 victory over the Atlanta Braves, Toronto's first ever World Series championship. Winfield told Sports Illustrated that if his career had ended before Toronto, he "wouldn't have been really happy" with what baseball had dealt him. "I would have had no fulfillment, no sense of equity, no fairness," he said. "I feel a whole lot better now about the way the things have turned out."
In 1993, Winfield signed with the Minnesota Twins, returning home for a time. There he achieved his 3,000th hit. He played forty-six games for the Cleveland Indians in 1995 but retired as a player the following year.
Winfield was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2001, his first year of eligibility for the honor. He chose to wear the San Diego Padres cap for his likeness on the enshrinement plaque. In his acceptance speech, he acknowledged Jackie Robinson , the first black player in the major leagues, for making a career in baseball possible for African Americans. He also had a word for young people: "Life and baseball are littered with all kinds of obstacles and problems. You have to learn how to overcome them to be successful."
|ANA: Anaheim Angels; CLE: Cleveland Indians; MIN: Minnesota Twins; NYY: New York Yankees; SD: San Diego Padres; TOR: Toronto Blue Jays.|
Dave Winfield remained a calm, focused player throughout his career, in spite of numerous scandals and difficulties. In 1991, with the Anaheim Angels, he had the first three-home run game of his career. Surprisingly free of injuries throughout his twenty-two seasons in baseball, he was the oldest player ever to have 100 runs in a season, at age forty-one, with the Toronto Blue Jays. In addition to his record-breaking playing, Winfield has been a generous and caring member of society and one who has passed on the gift of guidance in youth through the Winfield Foundation.
SELECTED WRITINGS BY WINFIELD:
(With Eric Swenson) Turn It Around!: There's No Room Here for Drugs, Paperjacks, 1987.
(With Tom Parker) Winfield: A Player's Life, Norton, 1988.
(With Eric Swenson) The Complete Baseball Player, Avon Books, 1990.
Awards and Accomplishments
|1972-74, 1976-78, 1980-82, 1985-1991,||Named to All-Star Team, seven times as a starter|
|1973||Most Valuable Player in National Collegiate Athletic Association Tournament; Collegiate All-American|
|1979||Received Young Men's Christian Association's (YMCA's) Brian Piccolo Award for humanitarian service|
|1979-80, 1982-85, 1987||Gold Glove Award|
|1990||Named "Comeback Player of the Year" by Sporting News|
|1992||Toronto Blue Jays won World Series; received Rotary Club of Denver's Branch Rickey Award for community service; received Arete Award for courage in sports|
|1993||Achieved 3,000th hit; won American League's Joe Cronin Award for significant achievement|
|2001||Inducted into Baseball Hall of Fame|
Where Is He Now?
Soon after retirement, Dave Winfield signed on as a baseball analyst for FOX-TV sports, in a show that premiered June 1, 1996. This position allowed him to remain close to baseball. In 1999 he and his wife, Tonya, then the parents of four-year-old twins, sold their 5,000-square-foot home in a posh section of Los Angeles and bought a 9,000-square-foot home in the same section. He had also invested in Burger King restaurants and owned some fifteen franchises. In 1998 he opened a company specializing in exterior lighting for commercial buildings. In 2002, Winfield returned to his original team, the San Diego Padres, as vice president/senior advisor, a position in which he handles business, marketing, and player development for the team.
Ask Dave: Dave Winfield Answers Kids'Questions about Baseball and Life, Andrews and McMeel, 1994.
Contemporary Black Biography. Volume 5. Detroit: Gale Group, 1993.
"Dave Winfield Is New Padres Vice President." Jet (March 11, 2002): 53.
"Dave Winfield Named Baseball Program Analyst on FOX-TV." Jet (April 1, 1996): 46.
"Ex-Yankees Slugger Dave Winfield Selling Home and Buying Bigger One in L.A.'s Beverly Crest." Jet (March 29, 1999): 57.
"Winfield, Puckett Head Baseball's Class of 2001 Hall of Fame Inductees." Jet (August 20, 2001): 52.
Baseball-Reference.com. "Dave Winfield." http://www.baseball-reference.com/ (November 1, 2002).
CBS SportsLine.com. "Dave Winfield Bio." http://CBS.SportsLine.com/ (August 5, 2001).
Poole, Tracy. "Dave Winfield at a Glance." Knight-Ridder News Service. (January 3, 1994).
San Diego Padres Official Web Site. http://sandiego.padres.mlb.com/ (November 1, 2002).
Sketch by Ann H. Shurgin