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Tuesday, April 23, 2019

One player, four drafts: The remarkable tale of Dave Winfield’s draft history

Imagine what would happen if a guy like Dave Winfield — a phenomenal athlete drafted by four (!) different pro leagues — showed up in 2019.

Zion Williamson and Kyler Murray would be afterthoughts. NBA Twitter would establish churches in his honor. NFL draft tape-eaters would look for the slightest sign he wasn’t Serious About Football. Baseball fans would praise him as the game-saving messiah. Knicks, Mets and Giants fans would tear New York apart. Sports talk radio and daytime talk shows would fire off takes hot enough to be seen from orbit. It’d be glorious anarchy.

Dave Winfield isn’t walking through that door, even though he’d probably still get drafted if he did. He remains one of the few athletes in American sports history to get drafted by more than one pro league, and as Thursday’s NFL draft tipoff nears, it’s worth considering just how far we’ve come … and just what a remarkable cat Winfield was.

A consideration of what kind of athlete Dave Winfield was, and (less directly) how much we lost when drafts became media events.

 

 

QLE Posted: April 23, 2019 at 04:19 AM | 15 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: aba, dave winfield, draft, mlb, nba, nfl

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   1. Walt Davis Posted: April 23, 2019 at 07:02 PM (#5834628)
You'd think the North Stars would have wasted a late round pick on him.
   2. It was something about the man-spider and sodomy, Posted: April 23, 2019 at 07:14 PM (#5834629)
That seagull.

Dave Winfield: Don Baylor was in left field and Ken Griffey Sr. was in right. When I finished playing catch, I was throwing it to the ball boy, they sit down the right field line. I saw the bird in that direction. I threw in that direction, but really not anticipating or expecting to hit it. I threw it with some force to get to the ball boy, sure enough the bird, you know, it just killed it immediately.

Dave Winfield: Don Baylor was in left field and Ken Griffey Sr. was in right. When I finished playing catch, I was throwing it to the ball boy, they sit down the right field line. I saw the bird in that direction. I threw in that direction, but really not anticipating or expecting to hit it. I threw it with some force to get to the ball boy, sure enough the bird, you know, it just killed it immediately.

Jeff Pinchuk, former ball boy: It just happened to accidentally get in the way of the ball that came back to me. I still remember, it was a one-hopper. The Astroturf there was wet. It’s like throwing a rock in water. If you throw a ball and hit the turf, if you’ve been to a game and watched it, it just skips, and it just so happened that the bird couldn’t get out of the way in time.

Helen Lyon, spectator: I was at the ball game when that poor seagull got sent to heaven . . . I was looking around, I was just watching the bird. He just beaned him. He shouldn’t have done that . . . I certainly wouldn’t remember everything I did 30 years ago, but that was such a startling thing to have happen that I never forgot it . . . I was one of the people that gasped.

Hartery: I sent the kid out, the ball boy out, to pick up the seagull and the ball.

Pinchuk: Have you ever picked up a dead animal? You can imagine something that’s dead, basically its neck is broken, and the nerves are still jumping around, and you’re trying to pick it up. So yeah, it’s a little eerie but I didn’t have to go too far.

Hartery: There were 30,000 people in the stands that night and they went ballistic, they really did, they were chanting “Winfield sucks” for the next four innings . . . I sat there for a few minutes just thinking, what I was going to do? I left my post, I called my staff sergeant and told him I’d meet him in the Blue Jay security office, which was under the stadium. I walked in with a dead seagull, at that point I told him I was going to be arresting the centrefielder — I didn’t know his name — after the game was over.

Winfield: You heard some boos and then between innings, I’d come up to the bat, and you’d hear boo. I’d have to look at what I did that day, it seemed like I hit a double or a home run during that day.

Hartery: You know what, I got put on mum back then by the chief and the deputy, I was not allowed to talk to anybody, so, I don’t really give a heck anymore. I’ll guarantee you 100 per cent he tried to hit it, he aimed for it, I know for a fact he was surprised to hit it, because it was long distance throw . . . Every inning up until this inning, Winfield would get the ball and throw it into the ball boy sitting beside me. That ball would roll into that ball boy at about one mile an hour, there was just enough heat on that ball to make it, and on this inning, and I can’t prove what he said, but he turned to left fielder, when he picked up the ball, and again I can’t prove it, but I know he said, “Watch this,” and he turned with everything he had, and he threw that ball.

Winfield: I didn’t just sit and take aim. It was thrown pretty quick, but it wasn’t like I sat there and took aim and fired just at the bird. It was on the ground, it had been there for a while between innings, it wasn’t like a malicious type of thing. Honestly I would have thought like anything else, sometimes birds scatter as an object comes toward them, whether it’s a car or a baseball . . . I would kind of liken it to, if you’re driving down the street and you see a squirrel or raccoon or something and you’re driving pretty quickly and you say, “Ah it will move,” and you hear the thump and you say, “Oh man,” and that’s kind of the way it unfolded, I didn’t expect to hit it, but I did.

Hartery: I waited until after the game and then we arrested him. Well, I arrested him. My call . . . I knew when I did it, that people were going to say yep that was good, or yep, that was bad and stupid, I knew it was going to go both ways, let’s put it that way . . . most of the naysayers didn’t see what I saw.

Winfield: They were doing this interview in the dugout, and our manager Billy Martin came up and he said, “Hurry up, there’s police waiting for you in the locker room, you gotta deal with this after the game.” I thought he was kidding, but they weren’t. They were waiting for me.

Pinchuk: I still remember Billy Martin’s comments: “Cruelty to animals? That’s the first time he hit the cut-off man all year.”


I wore #13 in High School for him.
   3. PASTE, Now with Extra Pitch and Extra Stamina Posted: April 23, 2019 at 07:25 PM (#5834632)
I was prepared for a very silly article based on its very silly opening--many modern athletes are drafted by multiple pro sports leagues, and Winfield would more likely have specialized more in one sport had he grown up in the 21st century--but the rest of the article is actually really good. A fun read.
   4. Howie Menckel Posted: April 23, 2019 at 08:13 PM (#5834642)
he was a very legit good college hoops player, as is noted there. but hardly the only excellent two-sport star of the time.
   5. RMc accompanies the Griffmen to Augusta Posted: April 23, 2019 at 08:52 PM (#5834662)
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the only Utah Stars draft pick in the Hall of Fame!
   6. Shooty would run in but these bone spurs hurt! Posted: April 24, 2019 at 10:32 AM (#5834806)
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the only Utah Stars draft pick in the Hall of Fame!

I think Moses Malone was a Stars draft pick. At least, I think he started there. I will have to google...

edit: Yep, Moses Malone was a Stars draft pick.
   7. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: April 24, 2019 at 10:45 AM (#5834814)
Imagine what would happen if a guy like Dave Winfield — a phenomenal athlete drafted by four (!) different pro leagues — showed up in 2019.
Boras would just keep rotating him around between sports to squeeze more money out.
   8. Tom Nawrocki Posted: April 24, 2019 at 10:54 AM (#5834817)
Winfield was a key part of a very ugly fight when he was on the University of Minnesota basketball team:

Dave Winfield, who recently joined the Gopher varsity, joined the fray, too, dodging to mid-court where some Minnesota reserves and civilians were trying to wrestle Ohio State substitute Mark Wagar to the floor. Winfield leaped on top of Wagar when he was down and hit him five times with his right fist on the face and head.

That wasn't even the worst of it. One Minnesota player helped an Ohio State player up from the floor, only to knee him in the groin as he was getting up. Another, who had already fouled out, "viciously stomped the Ohio State player's neck and face," according to Sports Illustrated.
   9. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: April 24, 2019 at 10:59 AM (#5834818)
Probably could have had a career in MMA as well.

EDIT: Coke to Tom N.
   10. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: April 24, 2019 at 11:09 AM (#5834825)

So was Winfield actually that good at basketball? I mean, he played in the Big Ten so he was obviously a lot better than your average Joe. But he was fourth leading scorer on the team behind three guys who had decent-at-best pro careers. Presumably if he had focused on basketball exclusively he would have been a bit better, but the article intro implying that he would have made Zion an afterthought seems a bit silly (and as others have noted, the rest of the article is more measured).
   11. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: April 24, 2019 at 01:13 PM (#5834867)
Winfield leaped on top of Wagar when he was down and hit him five times with his right fist on the face and head.
Jeez. Between that and the seagull, Winfield sounds like kind of a sociopath.
   12. Rennie's Tenet Posted: April 24, 2019 at 05:00 PM (#5835003)
Are there tons of guys who were drafted by the NFL and had careers after not playing football in college? Carlton Haselrig was a wrestler, Sam Clancy a basketball player. I don't think Renaldo Nehemiah was ever drafted?
   13. Greg Pope Posted: April 24, 2019 at 06:42 PM (#5835021)
Are there tons of guys who were drafted by the NFL and had careers after not playing football in college?

Antonio Gates played only basketball in college, and he will probably make the HOF as a tight end. But he's not an answer to your question since he was an undrafted free agent.
   14. Der-K: at 10% emotional investment Posted: April 25, 2019 at 09:12 AM (#5835178)
Gates was also pretty good at basketball - 20.6 pts, 7.7 reb, 4.1 ast, 1.5 stl in 33.3 mpg as a senior.
---
I remember trying to a deep dive on Winfield at basketball many years ago and concluding that he was a solid college player, but not much beyond that. (Though who knows what specialization could have done with him.) FWIW, he averaged 10.5 pts, 6.1 reb on 51% fg, 70% ft his last year with the Gophers, with solid defense (it would have to be - this was a Bill Musselman team).
   15. Rally Posted: April 25, 2019 at 11:05 AM (#5835225)
Winfield as a basketball player was probably a tweeter. At 6-6 he was the tallest guy in baseball, at least among good position players, but not quite tall enough to be a 4 or 5. And at his playing weight, too heavy to be a 2 or 3. Maybe he could have been an earlier Charles Barkley, but if he has Chuck type basketball talent I would expect to see better college stats.

For a football tight end, his size profiles well. Maybe he could have been a star in that sport. But he certainly choose well with baseball since outside of kickers and QBs NFL players don’t last 20 years.

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