Devon White 1994 Topps – Sully Baseball Card of the Day for April 3, 2017

IMG_9620Devon White had a fine career, is a fan favorite in Toronto and one of only a handful of players to have been born in Jamaica.

And yet he was robbed.

He should be a legend. His name should be mentioned every single October. He should have one of the great highlights in baseball history.

And he doesn’t have one of the great highlights in baseball history because instant replay technology wasn’t advanced enough yet.

Devo was born in Kingston in 1962. When his family emigrated to the United States, his father accidentally wrote “White” instead of the actual spelling which was Whyte.

After going to Park West High School in Manhattan, he was drafted by the California Angels.

The talented center fielder found himself as a defensive replacement on the 1986 Angels squad, filling in for George Hendrick or Rupert Jones in the late innings. He was in right field when Dave Henderson’s homer sailed over Brian Downing’s head in Game 5 of the 1986 ALCS.

By 1988 he was a Gold Glove winner. By 1989, he was an All Star. And by 1991, he was a Toronto Blue Jay.

As the Blue Jays did an overhaul after the 1990 season, White was brought in for a deal involving Junior Felix and Luis Sojo. He picked up his third Gold Glove, smacking 17 homers and stealing 33 bags along the way, his best all around season. The Blue Jays won the Division but the Twins made short work of them in the ALCS.

Then came 1992.

Some of White’s numbers dipped but he remained a top caliber defensive centerfielder. The Blue Jays imported Jack Morris and Dave Winfield to put the team finally over the top. And White did his best to help in the ALCS.

He batted .348 against the A’s, getting a pair of hits and scoring a run in the Blue Jays dramatic 11 inning Game 4 victory. He drove in a run in the Game 6 clincher as well, sending the Blue Jays to their first ever World Series.

Atlanta and Toronto split games 1 and 2, sending the World Series to Canada for the first time in history.

In the top of the 4th of Game 3, the Braves were rallying against Juan Guzman. Two runners were on and none were out with David Justice coming to the plate.

He hit a deep drive to center field that forced Devon to turn his back to home plate. He reached out and made a fine running catch, crashing into the wall.

Then he threw back to the infield.

The Braves baserunners, Terry Pendleton and Deion Sanders, passed each other on the base paths with Pendleton certain it was going to be an extra base hit. When they passed, it became a double play.

Not knowing Pendleton was already called out, the throw went to first baseman John Olerud for the purpose of doubling up Pendleton.

Sanders, seeing a chance to make something out of the disastrous play, tagged up and tried to take third.

Olerud threw the ball to third baseman Kelly Gruber who got Sanders in a rundown.

Instead of throwing to shortstop Manny Lee to tag Sanders and complete the triple play, Gruber dove. The umpire ruled that Gruber missed Sanders’ foot and he was safe.

It was a bang bang play and umpire Bob Davidson made the call.

Except he was wrong. The replay showed that Gruber made the tag. It should have been a triple play. They did everything for it to be a triple play.

And with reviews today, it would have been ruled as such. Instead for all time it is simply a double play.

For years to come, the triple play would have been brought up whenever there was a tough jam in the post season with nobody out. They would shot the clip. The Devon White play would be shorthand in October for wiggling out of trouble.

Instead only Bill Wambsganss is credited for turning a World Series triple play, and there is no video of his unassisted gem in the 1920 World Series.

The run didn’t score and eventually the Blue Jays won that game and the World Series. They won again in 1993 and White was a member of the 1997 Marlins team that won too. In fact White’s grand slam all but put the dagger in the Giants in the 1997 Division Series.

He was the first ever Diamondbacks All Star in his one year in the desert, 1998 before winding down his career with the Dodgers and Brewers in 2001.

Here in this strange Topps Card (that more resembles those 1983 Fleer Cards I once wrote about) he is looking over fan mail.

I assume one of them was from a fan who knew that he helped REALLY turn the second triple play in baseball history.

Dave Winfield 1978 Kellogg’s 3-D Super Stars – Sully Baseball Card of the Day for March 25, 2017


With all of the super hero movies being made these days (it seems like they come out every hour on the hour) I started thinking about Dave Winfield and the effect he had on me as a kid.

There is no other way to say it. When your pal Sully was about 7 years old and really just beginning to understand baseball and how to follow it, Dave Winfield was the equivalent of a super hero.

Not a lot of San Diego Padres were in the Kellogg’s 3-D All Stars and at the time, I was living in New England. San Diego was a long way away and we didn’t get to see many National League games in the suburbs of Boston.

So all I knew REALLY about Dave Winfield was from his baseball cards. And an element of his background became a never ending source of fascination for me.

On October 3, 1951, the same day Bobby Thomson hit his “Shot Heard Round The World”, Dave Winfield was born in Minneapolis. Right there it seems like a super hero origin story.

He attended the University of Minnesota where the 6’6″ Winfield was a star hitter, star pitcher and star basketball player. The Utah Stars of the ABA drafted him. The Atlanta Hawks of the NBA drafted him. The San Diego Padres drafted him. And amazingly enough, the Minnesota Vikings drafted him to play in the NFL.

Again, superhero stuff. He was so good that 4 teams drafted him. I am still looking for confirmation, but I heard a rumor that the St. Louis Blues of the NHL drafted him too. *

When I read that as a kid, that blew my mind. He was good enough to play any sport. And one other thing made me grab my 7 year old temples and yell “WHAT?”

When he went to the the Padres, he skipped the minor leagues. He was so good he went right to the majors.

I had a similar reaction to Bob Horner when I read that was his fate. But Winfield was a little more special. The NBA nor the NFL were interested in Horner. In 1973 he made his debut at age 21.

By 1974, 22 year old Dave Winfield was a 20 home run hitter. By age 25, he was an All Star. Then his career took off.

In 1978 Winfield cracked the top 10 of the MVP vote, batted over .300 and as a 24 homer and 21 stolen baseman. Then he topped himself.

By 1979, he was more than an All Star and became one of the elite players in the game. He finished 3rd in the MVP vote, won a Gold Glove, led the league with 118 RBI clubbed a career high 34 homers and unbeknownst to anyone, led the league with an OPS+ of 166.

From then on, elite stats were the standard of Winfield. Lots of homers, Gold Gloves and a high average could be written in ink. When he moved to the Yankees, suddenly I got to see him in person (or on TV) on a regular basis.

I am no Yankee fan. But watching him play made me respect him and be amazed how many big hits he would pile up.

Naturally he made it into the crosshairs of George Steinbrenner and the whole bizarre Howie Spira plot line was just surreal. Basically, Steinbrenner hated Winfield so much because they weren’t winning the World Series that he hired a goon with mob ties money to find dirt on Winfield.

Perhaps he could have kept some of his young players like Fred McGriff, Willie McGee and Doug Drabek instead of hiring mob strong arm men and they could have won a World Series or two. But I digress.

The Yankee days ended midway through the 1990 season as he was dumped to the Angels. Finally in 1992, he won his first and only World Series title in Toronto. He of course got the game winning hit in the Game 6 clincher. He went home to Minnesota to get his 3,000th hit and finished his career with the Indians in 1995.

He was a member of the 3000 hit and 400 homer club. He began playing before I started following baseball and wrapped up his career post strike and after I graduated from college.

Dave Winfield’s career stretched a long way in my baseball loving life. He seemed super human from the start. In my mind, he never dipped below that level.




*This is a lie.

Sully Baseball Podcast Rewind – February 5, 2015


On February 5, 2015, I talked about Atlanta stadiums.

Turner Field will close in a few seasons. When it does, the memories people will have of The Ted won’t hold a candle to the highlight reel that was Atlanta Fulton County Stadium

Enjoy this Podcast Rewind.

Sully Baseball Daily Podcast – February 5, 2015