Dave Winfield was a great all-around athlete. Dave Winfield was drafted in three sports. Winfield went to the University of Minnesota on a baseball scholarship but also played basketball. He was of course drafted in baseball. The Padres made him the fourth pick in the draft. The Padres made a wise choice of course. In basketball the ABA and NBA were fighting each other, and both had a draft. The Atlanta Hawks used the 79th pick, 5th round of the NBA draft to pick Winfield and the Utah Stars used the 58th pick, 6th round of the NBA draft to pick Winfield. The Minnesota Vikings, just to wake people up and honor someone from the home town used the 429 pick, 17th round of the NFL draft to pick Winfield.
That would never happen today as the NBA draft is two rounds and the NFL draft is only seven rounds. Winfield wasn’t that great of a basketball player and no team would waste a pick to honor a home town player anymore.
I watched a lot of big 10 basketball when Winfield played in college. Minnesota was pretty good for a couple of years. However, I don’t remember Dave Winfield playing. The player I remember was Jim Brewer. He played 9 years in the NBA, then spent 3 in Italy. One year as a starter he averaged almost 11 rebounds a game. That is what I remember about him was a great rebounder. He wasn’t a great shooter. In fact, the team as a whole wasn’t great at shooting. They played tough defense and could rebound. In his last year in the NBA Brewer was a sub for the Lakers. The Lakers would win the title that year (1982) and Brewer would get a ring.
Winfield got a big contract to join the Yankees in 1981. He helped the team (finished 7th in the MVP voting) make the World Series. He was mainly remembered was that he had only one hit in the Series a single. He went into a slump at the wrong time. Winfield showing a sense of humor asked for the ball. This drove George Steinbrenner crazy. He started calling him Mr. May because he couldn’t hit in October. Steinbrenner compared him to Reggie Jackson, who he ragged when he was with the Yankees. Winfield would knock in 100 runs a year for 6 of the next 7 seasons for the Yankees, but he couldn’t match his best season with the Padres. The year Winfield didn’t knock in 100 runs he knocked in 97. He was 36 at the end of this stretch then missed a season with a back injury.
He was then traded to the California Angels close to his old haunting grounds in San Diego. After two seasons with the Angels, Toronto who had good teams who couldn’t quite get to the World Series signed the 40-year-old Winfield as their Designated Hitter. He had a solid playoff against Oakland scoring 7 runs in six games. He didn’t have much of a World Series in a tight battle with the Atlanta Braves. In game 6 Toronto could clinch thanks to 3 one run games. They led by one going into the bottom of the 9th, but Atlanta scored a run to stay alive in the game and the series. Winfield came to the plate with runners on first and second and two outs. Winfield got the biggest hit of his career a two-run double. Toronto held on for a 4-3 victory and their first World Championship. Take that George.