I always liked the outfielder Dave Winfield. He played for the San Diego Padres as the right fielder from 1973 to 1980, becoming an All-Star in the middle years there.
In 1981, he became a free agent. The sometimes volatile owner of the New York Yankees, George Steinbrenner signed Winfield to the most lucrative baseball contract at the time. But The Boss didn’t understand a cost-of-living provision and ended up agreeing to a ten-year, $23 million deal, rather than ONLY $16 million. This led to Steinbrenner’s feuding.
In 1985, Steinbrenner, in criticizing Winfield, said to The New York Times writer Murray Chass, “Where is Reggie Jackson? We need a Mr. October or a Mr. September. Winfield is Mr. May.” A few years later, the owner was banned from baseball for two years, in part for hiring a guy with Mafia ties to dig up dirt on Winfield.
This was weird: “On August 4, 1983, Winfield killed a seagull by throwing a ball while warming up before the fifth inning of a game at Toronto’s Exhibition Stadium. Fans responded by hurling obscenities and improvised missiles. After the game, he was brought to a nearby Toronto Police Service station and charged with cruelty to animals. He was released after posting a $500 bond… Charges were dropped the following day.”
Away from the Bronx Zoo
Dave Winfield was traded in 1990, and he was wearing a California Angels uniform the one time I saw him play in person, June 14, 1991. He went 3 for 4. Ten days later, he became the oldest player to hit for the cycle (single, double, triple, home run).
Finally, in 1992, with the Toronto Blue Jays, he got his first World Series ring. He retired in 1995, having accumulated 3110 hits, including 465 home runs, in his 22-year career. He was selected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2001, his first year of eligibility. Here’s his induction speech.