Who is this player? Dave Winfield, right fielder, San Diego Padres Hall of Fame, Class of 2001 Coming off a season in which he led the National League in RBI, Dave Winfield entered 1980 in the final year of his contract with the San Diego Padres. As the year began, he shocked the Padres and baseball by asking for a $20 million dollar, 10-year deal. The contract discussions dominated Winfield's 1980 season and while he was again an All-Star, there was a drop in his offensive numbers from the previous year. The Winfield Sweepstakes began in earnest when the season ended. The New York Yankees won Winfield's services, signing him to the richest contract in baseball history at the time.
Born the day of "The Shot Heard 'Round The World," indeed it was as if Dave Winfield was destined for baseball stardom. The 6'6" Winfield excelled at several sports as a youth and he earned a full scholarship to the University of Minnesota for baseball and basketball. He led the Golden Gophers to a Big Ten Championship in basketball and was drafted by four professional teams, the Padres, two basketball teams, the Atlanta Hawks and Utah Stars of the ABA and the Minnesota Vikings (even though Winfield never played college football).
Winfield chose baseball and he was promoted directly to the majors, never spending a day in the minor leagues. He quickly became the Padres first true superstar earning Gold Glove accolades and was a legitimate MVP candidate. Dave was the first active athlete ever to establish a charitable foundation. Founded in 1975, the Winfield Foundation provided scholarships and education for underprivileged kids. It also inadvertently opened batting practice at the All-Star Game when Winfield brought nearly 10,000 kids to the hometown event in 1978.
When he moved on to New York, Dave enjoyed a successful, yet sometimes tumultuous nine years. The Yankees adavnced to the World Series in Winfield's first year, but he struggled, batting .045. He was selected to the All-Star Game every season and won five of his seven career Gold Gloves. He engaged in a memorable batting race with teammate Don Mattingly in 1984, batting a career high .340. As his time in New York wore on, he fell out of favor with owner George Steinbrenner. His attempts to discredit Winfield and his foundation temporarily led to Steinbrenner's banishment from Major League Baseball.
After a brief stop with the California Angels, Winfield signed on with the Toronto Blue Jays as a free agent in 1992. It was there that Winfield earned redemption by leading the Jays to a World Series title. In the 10th inning of Game 6, Winfield had the deciding a hit, a double that scored the game-winning run. Dave spent the last three seasons of his 22-year career with the Twins (where he achieved his 3000th hit)and Indians. In retirement, he gained several accolades, with the ultimate being his induction to the Hall of Fame in 2001. Today, Winfield can be seen as an analyst on ESPN's Baseball Tonight.
Why I love this card Winfield had a lot of cards in 1980. Below is also his Topps Super Card and his Burger King Card. The BK one is different than the regular issue, so that means it's time for another vote - the ballot box is now open.
Something else.... At first I thought I would mention the Seagull incident in Toronto but that one has been told and retold. One I didn't know came in 1994. Winfield was traded to the Cleveland Indians at the trading deadline for a "player to be named later." The 1994 season had been halted two weeks earlier and eventually cancelled by the strike. Winfield did not get to play for the Indians that year and no player was ever named in exchange. To settle the trade, Cleveland and Minnesota executives went to dinner, with the Indians picking up the tab. This makes Winfield the only player in major league history to be traded for a dinner.
On this date in 1980: Detroit Tigers outfielder Al Kaline became only the tenth player in history to become elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. Brooklyn Dodger outfielder Duke Snider, who waited 11 years, is also elected.
This blog is inspired by several influences; first, the other blogs dedicated to a single season of Topps sets and the folks at http://www.deanscards.com/, who provide a great resource of all years of cards (and from whom I stole the awesome header).
Mainly though, this blog is inspired by my Dad who during the summer of 1980, fully introduced me to the great game of baseball through these cards. Every one of these cards is somehow connected to a memory of that time.