Tuesday, December 24, 2013

#131 Dave Winfield

About the Front: This may be one of my favorite photos in this set: Dave Winfield in...Minnesota? Anyway, Winfield is watching his drive with a hopeful sort of grimace, and he is taking up a lot of space as he lunges out of the batter's box. He was always impossibly big, tall, and powerful.

About the Back: At age 40, Dave had just had a throwback season for the World Champion Blue Jays, posting his best all-around numbers since 1988 and earning a Silver Slugger and a fifth-place MVP finish.

Triple Play:

1. Winfield was always an excellent athlete, and chose baseball despite being drafted by clubs in the ABA (Utah Stars), NBA (Atlanta Hawks), and NFL (Minnesota Vikings). He never played a single game in the minor leagues.

2. Dave signed a then-record 10-year, $23 million free agent contract with the Yankees in December 1980. Despite living up to the deal on the field, the outfielder was often a target of owner George Steinbrenner's wrath, taking blame for the team's downturn in the standings throughout the 1980s and being derisively referred to as "Mr. May" after a 1-for-22 struggle in the 1981 World Series. George earned himself a temporary banishment from baseball after paying mob-connected gambler Howie Spira $40,000 to dig up dirt on Winfield.

3. The Padres retired his number 31 jersey in 2001, the same year that he was elected to the Hall of Fame in his first year on the ballot.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: I remember borrowing a book from the library that went into great detail about the dysfunctional Winfield-Steinbrenner relationship. It was fascinating and tawdry stuff to my young eyes.

Bill James Said: (In reference to Dave collecting his 3,000th career hit with the Twins in 1993,) "Here's a prediction for you: between 1990 and 2010, the number of players with 3,000 hits will double." Hey, let's check the numbers! In 1990, the 3,000 Hit Club numbered at 16. Today there are 28 members, but Derek Jeter didn't reach the milestone until 2011. I guess a few of the top hitters of the era let Bill down.

On This Date in 1993: December 24. It's Christmas Eve! That calls for another Calvin and Hobbes strip.

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