Baseball player Dave Winfield is 70

dead bird

dave winfield.hall_of_fame_plaqueI 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

He could do it all. Here’s why he wants kids to play multiple sports, as he did growing up. Dave Winfield – Field dedication ceremony, 2021.

Book review: Steinbrenner – The Last Lion of Baseball

In 1990, baseball commissioner Fay Vincent booted Steinbrenner out of baseball for two years.

There was a recent Daily Double on the game show JEOPARDY, in the category PARDONER: Ronald Reagan pardoned this owner for illegal campaign contributions in 1989–the Gipper a Yankees fan?

The contestant guessed George Steinbrenner and was, of course, correct. What other owner of that American League franchise could many people name? And which other owner would be in need of Presidential absolution?

Steinbrenner – The Last Lion of Baseball was written by Bill Madden, a well-regarded writer who had a “mostly pleasant working relationship with George in his “capacity as a baseball writer” for UPI and then the New York Daily News. But Madden was furious when he had been fed some bogus story by Steinbrenner about how Lou Pinella, a manager George fired, was trying to steal the furniture.

Steinbrenner was always firing managers, publicity directors, and general managers, who presumably run the day-to-day operations of a team. But it was difficult for all of them because he was a hands-on owner, luring or aggravating the players.

George grew up in Ohio and made his wealth first by reviving the family-owned Kinsman Marine Transit Company, then purchasing it from his family. He later was a co-owner of the American Shipbuilding Company, and, in 1967, he became its chairman and chief executive officer. By 1972, the company’s gross sales were more than $100 million annually.

CBS bought the New York Yankees in 1965, but it was not a good fit. Early in 1973, Steinbrenner, who had tried and failed to buy the Cleveland Indians in 1971, led a group of investors in purchasing the Yankees for $10 million. However, part of the price was two parking garages that CBS bought back the garages for $1.2 million, so the net cost was $8.8 million.

One of my friends recently told me that, though he grew up as a Yankees fan, he changed allegiances, and it was entirely because of the massive amounts Steinbrenner spent in trying to buy championships. I get that. During his 37-year ownership from 1973 to his death in July 2010, the Yankees did earn seven World Series titles and 11 American League pennants.

Madden’s book was exceedingly thorough and obviously well researched. I was feeling a bit exhausted, though, about three-quarters of the way through the 430-page book. Oh, yeah, ANOTHER manager fired – he hired and fired former Yankee infielder Billy Martin FIVE times as manager!

Or dissing one of his players; in 1990, baseball commissioner Fay Vincent booted Steinbrenner out of baseball “for having paid a two-bit gambler to dig up dirt on the Dave Winfield Foundation.” George once dubbed Winfield Mr. May for a poor post-season.

In many ways, George Steinbrenner was a loud, pompous, opinionated, stubborn rich fellow who reminded me of a current part-time DC resident. At least George could play the stadium organ. Oh, yeah, Reagan pardoned Steinbrenner for his really minor financial role in the Watergate scandal.

Summertime Blues

I seriously thought Paul Giamatti was going to be nominated for an Oscar for American Splendor.

It’s very warm on the second floor of my house. It was hot for several days last week, then it cooled off somewhat, only to have the heat return. The only place it isn’t hot is in the daughter’s room; she has a room air conditioner. The bedrooms have ceiling fans, which circulate but do not cool, the warm air.

The attic is comparable to doing the Bataan death march, after about 10 a.m.

The very good news, so far, is that we have not seen a bat in the living quarters. They seem to usually come in on the second or third day of a run of hot weather. Given the fact that we’ve had bats in 2002-2007 and 2009, I’m guessing that the insulation of the attic had an added effect.

Mowed the lawn Friday night with the reel mower, because weeds that look like miniature pine trees – what ARE those, anyway? – grow faster than the grass. BIG mistake. Even at 7:30 p.m., it was extremely humid. I did not have to worry too much about getting sunburn, but it was still so muggy, I needed to take a shower afterward.

A relative sent me one of those forwarded Very Important!!!! notices:
My car book says to roll down the windows to let out all the hot air before turning on A/C. WHY ???????????
Please do NOT turn on A/C as soon as you enter the car.
Open the windows after you enter your car and then turn ON the AC after a couple of minutes.
It goes on to talk about cancer-causing benzene, in great detail. The Snopes report does not entirely negate the e-mail, though it does challenge some of the specific cause-and-effect mentioned in the e-mail. We’ve been rolling down our windows for years before turning on the a/c, mostly to try to dissipate that OMG hot air.

Speaking of air conditioners, Parade magazine’s Ask Marilyn says running the ceiling fans 24 hours a day will NOT help the air conditioning so that the electric bills will not go down.

I was watching the Yankees’ tribute to Bob Sheppard and George Steinbrenner Friday night and was moved. Sheppard, the voice of the Yankees, who Reggie Jackson dubbed “The voice of God” has been so distinctive in the period he announced for the Yankees (1951-2007), plus the New York Giants for a couple of decades, that Yankee captain Derek Jeter had requested Sheppard’s voice be used to introduce him when he comes to bat. Lots of nice articles on ESPN, including this one. The Friday night game had no announcer in his honor.

George Steinbrenner, the man who purchased the Yankees in 1973, in the midst of a fallow period for the team – hadn’t won the World Series since 1962, hadn’t even gotten to the Series since 1964 – was a polarizing character who, I thought, contributed to the zooiness of the Bronx Zoo. Without looking it up, I recall him hiring and firing Billy Martin five different times, and firing Bob Lemon, not for the first time after his team had won 103 regular-season games. He was suspended by baseball twice. I was no fan of George’s, yet felt badly at the passing of such a distinctive character. The Yankees’ 5-4 comeback win over Tampa Bay Friday night seemed somehow appropriate.

Harvey Pekar’s death at the age of 70 did make me sad. The comic book writer who wrote a lot about Harvey Pekar could be self-involved and acerbic, but from the first time I read his material back in the 1980s, I related to his honesty and his struggle to try to figure it all out. I loved the movie American Splendor, and I seriously thought Paul Giamatti – son of the late baseball commissioner Bart Giamatti, BTW – was going to be nominated for an Oscar for playing Harvey. I did NOT enjoy seeing Harvey the one time I saw him on Letterman; seems that Dave treated him like a caricature for its entertainment value. Here’s an appreciation from the LA Times.

The only Jay Leno joke I’ve ever remembered: “It’s so hot [how hot is it?] that even in Cleveland, they can feel the Miami Heat.” I watched The Decision (11.2 million viewers, more than some NBC shows, and came to pretty much agree with what Jaquandor said on the LeBron James issue, though I’d argue that the Cavaliers weren’t going to win an NBA championship any time soon, even if James had stayed. The problem with The Decision – an issue even my wife, who cares nothing about basketball or most sports, tired of the spectacle – is that LJ apparently grossly misunderstood his own press clippings. The only way he could have gotten away with that staged event is if he had stayed in Cleveland.

Wow, this blogpost has a Cleveland feel: LeBron, Pekar, city native Steinbrenner. Makes me want to listen to music from The Band.

Finally, Summer Breeze by the Isley Brothers, a cover of the Seals & Crofts hit.