So many awesome cards on a single page. There are no losers here:
Card #57 – Dave Johnson, Braves
Card #58 – Chuck Taylor, Expos
Card #59 – Ken Henderson, White Sox
Card #60 – Fergie Jenkins, Rangers
Card #61 – Dave Winfield, Padres
Card #62 – Fritz Peterson, Indians
Card #63 – Steve Swisher, Cubs
Card #64 – Dave Chalk, Angels
Card #65 – Don Gullett, Reds
One of the things that makes the 1975 Topps set so appealing and memorable to me is the awesome 70s color scheme, I mean, come on, who doesn’t love the purples, greens, pinks and banana-yellows that defined that crazy decade? And when you add a cool player, some sultry green grass and awesome uniforms – take Dave Winfield in that setting as an example – you have absolute perfection.
And absolute perfection may be the best description I can apply to Winfield as a ball player.
To me, Dave Winfield forever seemed to be the epitome of the cool baseball player, and considering we are talking about the 70s here, perhaps he was even groovy. How else can you describe a guy who was drafted by four separate professional sports teams after college: The Minnesota Vikings of the National Football League, the Atlanta Hawks of the National Basketball Association, the Utah Stars of the American Basketball Association, and ultimately the San Diego Padres of Major League Baseball.
And those groovy brown and gold uniforms.
Standing six-feet-six-inches tall, Winfield was a powerful giant on the baseball diamond and was the rare specimen who possessed the five tools that define so many Hall of Famers: Power, Speed, Hitting for Average, Great Fielding and Powerful throwing arm (Winfield, when he was drafted by the Padres with the fourth selection of the 1973 draft, was selected as a pitcher). Winfield never spent a day in the minors, and following a 56-game cup of coffee in the big leagues in 1973, he made his big splash with the Padres in 1974, hitting 20 home runs and driving in 75.
He was there to stay. The big leagues that is. The Padres, not so much. But we’ll get to that.
Winfield slammed 154 homers, drove in 626 runs and stole 133 bases in eight seasons in San Diego, but with the Padres rarely contending he became the big fish free agent at the conclusion of the 1980 season, and when he signed a deal with the George Steinbrenner Yankees for 10 years at $23 million, the era of gigantic sports salaries was officially upon us. In today’s terms that contract is pedestrian, however at the time it was an astronomical, almost unfathomable amount to pay for a player, and Winfield would struggle at times to prove that he was worth the money.
In retrospect he was well worth the money in New York, as he compiled a slash line of .290/.356/.495, slamming 205 home runs and driving in 818 runs and providing excellent defense in the Yankee outfield for nine seasons. Unfortunately for Winfield, his defining moment as a member of the New York Yankees will forever be his inability to deliver in the 1981 World Series, where the Yankees fell to the Dodgers in six games and the high priced superstar managed only a single hit in 27 plate appearances. To further add to Steinbrenner’s disgust, Winfield playfully asked for the ball after collecting his one and only hit of the Series.
It was nine productive, yet contentious seasons in New York for Dave Winfield, as he averaged better than 20 homers and 90 RBIs, but was forever feuding with Steinbrenner, so it is safe to say that when the slugger was traded to the California Angels on May 11, 1990 for pitcher Mike Witt he was more than ready to return to California for a change of scenery. And while he was now seemingly in the twilight of his career and nearly 40-years-old, Winfield was still a very productive outfielder for the Angels. In just over a season and a half with the struggling club, Winfield put up very respectable numbers – .268/.335/.469, with 47 homers and 158 RBI – before leaving for free agency again, this time joining the Toronto Blue Jays.
Winfield thrived as the second fiddle to the powerful Joe Carter on a mighty Blue Jays team in 1992 that would go 96-66 on the season. During this memorable season in Toronto, Winfield went .290/.377/.491, with 26 home runs and 108 RBI. And now, at the ripe old (baseball) age of 41, Dave Winfield was allowed a chance at World Series redemption as the Blue Jays were pitted against the Atlanta Braves. In the 11th inning of pivotal and deciding Game 6 , Winfield hit what proved to be the game-winning double, becoming one of the oldest players in major league history to collect an extra base hit in World Series play. Toronto won the big prize and Winfield could both celebrate and breathe a sigh of relief.
Before calling it quits at the age of 43 following a year with the Cleveland Indians in 1995, Winfield was afforded the opportunity to go back to his home state of Minnesota and contribute to the 1993-94 Twins. Filling the Designated Hitter role in Minnesota, Winfield put up respectable numbers, .264/.324/.436, and collected his 3,000th career hit with the Twins on September 16, 1993, before leaving for his Cleveland experience and ultimately calling it a career when he suffered a rotator cuff injury.
Dave Winfield’s career statistics are eye-popping. Over 22 seasons he collected 3,110 hits, belted 465 home runs, drove in 1,833 runs and stole 223 bases. His lifetime slash line: .283/.353/.475.
A 12-time All Star and winner of seven Gold Glove Awards, Dave Winfield was elected to Baseball’s Hall of Fame in 2001.