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DEFINING THE PLAYER
- Many athletes who played in the majors could've starred in other sports. But Dave Winfield was the only one drafted by four professional leagues: MLB, the NFL, NBA and ABA. If the Nike promotional express existed in the early 1970s, Heaven Knows he would've played more than one sport. Fortunately for baseball fans, we got to watch a splendid 22-year career play out exclusively on the diamond. The 12-time All-Star had 3,110 hits, 465 homers, slashed .283/.353/.475 and was a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
- Playing in his first World Series since his .045 showing with the Yankees in '81, Winfield again was struggling entering the 11th inning of Game 6 of the '92 Series with the Blue Jays on Oct. 24. A victory away from their first title, he came to the plate with two outs, two on and the score 2-2. Winfield lashed a double down the left-field line off Charlie Leibrandt. Both runners scored, and the Jays held on to win 4-3. "Mr. May'' was "Mr. October II'' for one day at least.
- Winfield finished third in the NL MVP voting in '79, driving in a career-high 118 runs, hitting 34 homers and slashing .308/.395/.558. He also won the first of seven Gold Gloves and led the NL with a 166 OPS+.
FIVE FINAL FACTS
- Winfield was known more for pitching than hitting for the University of Minnesota and was the fourth overall selection by the Padres in '73.
- The Padres, desperate for offense, converted him to an outfielder immediately, and he made his major-league debut in June '73 without playing a day in the minors. Amazing.
- You could say Winfield's talents were in demand. He was drafted by the NBA's Atlanta Hawks, the ABA's Utah Stars and the NFL's Minnesota Vikings.
- Winfield was the first active athlete to create a charitable organization. The Winfield Foundation provides healthcare and other services for families in need.
- Became the game's highest paid player in '81 after signing a 10-year $23 million deal with George Steinbrenner and the Yankees. The Winfield and Steinbrenner conglomerate turned sour after the '81 Series loss. A few years later, the Boss called Winfield "Mr. May'' for his failure in '81 and inability to get the Yankees back to the World Series.