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.

MIKE TIMLIN – Sully Baseball Unsung Post Season Hero of October 24

(CP PHOTO/Hans Deryk)

(CP PHOTO/Hans Deryk)

OCTOBER 24, 1992 – World Series Game 6

To explain why this entry in the Unsung Post Season Hero series is so special to me, I need to flash back to my front yard in the early 1980s. As a 10 or 11 year old, I would play out a scenario while throwing a whiffle ball.

In a potential clinching game of the World Series, my team is in extra innings and on the road. We have the lead but the home team is rallying. Out of pitchers, the manager had no choice to go to an unknown young pitcher named Sully to come out and clinch it. With the winning run at the plate and the crowd going crazy, I strikeout the last batter and clinch the World Series.

Everyone mobs the little known pitcher who was the unlikely pitcher who clinched it all.

The memory of that play acting was brought to light about 10 years later with Mike Timlin.

The Blue Jays and the Braves squared off in a thrilling World Series in 1992. The two teams split the first two games in Atlanta before the Blue Jays took a pair of one run games and established a 3-1 lead with 1991 World Series hero Jack Morris taking the mound for Game 5. The Braves beat Morris and sent the series back to the South.

Game 6 was a classic game. The hero of Game 3, Candy Maldonado, homered in the 4th to give the Blue Jays a 2-1 lead. The game turned into a bullpen game as a galaxy of pitching stars threw for Toronto. David Cone, Todd Stottlemyre, David Wells and Duane Ward held the lead.

In the 9th, the Blue Jays handed the ball to star closer Tom Henke who looked to clinch the series and give Canada their first World Series title. In the bullpen, Mark Eichhorn and Mike Timlin, two middle relievers further down the depth chart, figured out how they would celebrate the final pitch.

But the Braves, like they did against the Pirates in the NLCS, rallied. With 2 outs and 2 strikes on Otis Nixon, the Blue Jays were a pitch from the title. Otis Nixon singled home the tying run and suddenly the Blue Jays found themselves in extra innings and had already burned through their best relievers.

In the 10th, Toronto manager Cito Gaston turned to game 4 starter Jimmy Key, who kept the Braves off of the board. In the 11th with 2 outs, Dave Winfield redeemed his previous post season failures with a 2 out, 2 run double and put the Blue Jays back on top.

Key came out to clinch the World Series but got in trouble early. He allowed a lead off single and the next batter reached on an error. The never say die Braves had the winning run at the plate.

Key got a pair of outs but let up a run in the process. Now it was a one run lead and clearly a call to the bullpen was needed. But with their best relievers already used, Gaston turned to Mike Timlin.

The 26 year old Texan had played in the post season the year before but let up a go ahead homer to Minnesota’s Mike Pagliarulo. He had been reduced to a mop up role in the World Series.

Now Timlin found himself in the game. As I watched the game from my dorm room at NYU, I started going crazy. Timlin was enacting my scenario. The Blue Jays had run out of their better known pitchers. Timlin was relatively anonymous. Atlanta Fulton County Stadium was going bananas.
Otis Nixon, who had tied the game in the 9th was at the plate. The tying run, in the form of pinch runner John Smoltz was at third. It was Timlin’s game to save.
On the first pitch, the speedy Nixon dropped a bunt. A perfectly placed bunt with tie the game and put Nixon on as the potential winning run.
Timlin pounced on the ball and threw to first baseman Joe Carter. It was a close play but Timlin got him. My scenario was played to perfection. The unlikely Mike Timlin saved the game and the Blue Jays were World Champions.
But there was a problem in the celebration. The team poured out and mobbed… Joe Carter.
Mike Timlin was on the outside looking in for the scrum. He celebrated to be sure, but he wasn’t the focus on the celebration. Even the photos of the final out focused on Carter jumping up and down and not Timlin. (And to think, it would not even be Carter’s most famous jump at the conclusion of the World Series as a year later his homer would make the Jays back to back champs.)
I always felt for Timlin, or maybe I felt badly for myself. The perfect ending to my scenario was to have the team mob ME. And I felt a connection to Timlin and wanted his reality to match my fantasy.
In the end, Timlin won 4 rings all together. He was part of the 1992 and 1993 Blue Jays and the 2004 and 2007 Red Sox. As a Sox fan, I was thrilled when he joined my team. I had been rooting for him for years.
It was the great final out that should be Mike Timlin’s calling card of greatness and glory. That’s why I declare him the Unsung Post Season Hero of October 24.

Great Milestones in Strange Uniforms



I got an idea for a blog post from one of my readers.

It is an interesting concept. Often when we think of great milestones reached by a player, they are wearing a uniform of a team that we associate them with.

Players like Carl Yastrzemski, Derek Jeter, George Brett, Robin Yount and Tony Gwynn played their entire careers with one team. So when they passed 3,000 hits, they did so in a uniform we were expecting. Rickey Henderson had several tours with the A’s, and it was in his second one that he passed Lou Brock for career saves and declared himself the greatest of all time in Oakland.

Other players returned to former teams to pass milestones. Eddie Murray was back with the Orioles when he slammed home run number 500. Greg Maddux returned to the Cubs for win number 300.

But other players reached their great career highlight in a uniform that virtually nobody remembers them wearing.

For example…

Boston Herald

,  Boston Herald

Hall of Famer Paul Waner (aka Big Poison) got 2,868 hits over his 15 seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates. But when he became the 7th player to collect 3,000 hits on June 19, 1942, he did so as a Boston Brave.



Eddie Mathews played with the Braves in Boston, Milwaukee and Atlanta. But when he became just the 7th player to hit 500 homers on July 14, 1967, he did so as a member of the Houston Astros.

Photo credit:   John Iacono - SI

Photo credit: John Iacono – SI

Gaylord Perry spent the bulk of his career with the Giants, winning the Cy Young Award with the Indians and Padres. But he won his 300th game on May 6, 1982 with the Seattle Mariners.

1984 Fleer

1984 Fleer

The player Pete Rose was best remembered as a Red and later led the Phillies to their first World Championship. But when he became the first player with 4,000 hits since Ty Cobb on April 13, 1984, Pete was playing for the Montreal Expos.



Tom Seaver was “The Franchise” for the Mets and famously was dealt to the Reds. But his win #300 happened on August 4, 1985 as a member of the Chicago White Sox.

AJN Rules

AJN Rules

Also in 1985, Phil Niekro, who began his career with the Milwaukee Braves and played in Atlanta over three decades, won his 300th on October 6th during his cameo with the Yankees.



Don Sutton was best known as a Dodger, but his 300th win was recorded on June 18, 1986 while he pitched for the California Angels.

SF Chronicle

SF Chronicle

The first 21 years of Steve Carlton’s career was split between the Cardinals and the Phillies. He played for four more teams in his final three seasons. He recorded career strikeout number 4,000 during his “blink and you will miss it” stint with the San Francisco Giants on August 5, 1986.

Photo By Bruce Bisping

Photo By Bruce Bisping

Dave Winfield is best remembered for being a star Padre and Yankee and leading the Blue Jays to the World Championship. But the native Minnesotan returned home and on September 16, 1993, got his 3,000 hit as a Twin.

AP Photo/Orlin Wagner, File

AP Photo/Orlin Wagner, File

Paul Molitor was one of the great players in Milwaukee Brewer history. Like Winfield, Molitor helped lead the Blue Jays to a World Series title. Also like Winfield, he was a native Minnesotan who returned home to the Twins where he recorded his 3,000 hit. Molitor hit a triple on September 16, 1996, making him the only person to triple for his 3,000th.

Tampa Bay Times

Tampa Bay Times

Wade Boggs was one of the best hitters in Red Sox history (which is saying something.) He would later help the Yankees win the 1996 World Series and ride a horse in the process. But when he collected his 3,000th hit, he wasn’t wearing one of those classic uniforms. He was a member of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. He slugged a home run on August 7, 1999, being the first to ever homer for number 3,000. (Derek Jeter would be the second.)

Photo: Stephen Gunn - Getty Images

Photo: Stephen Gunn – Getty Images

Rickey Henderson broke the single season and career stolen base record as a member of the Oakland A’s, the team most teams associate with him. But hit number 3,000 happened on October 7, 2001 when he was a member of the San Diego Padres.

Eric Miller - Reuters

Eric Miller – Reuters

Frank Thomas was the greatest slugger in Chicago White Sox history. But when Thomas crushed his 500th home run on June 28, 2007, he did so as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays.



Tom Glavine pitched 17 seasons with the Atlanta Braves but notched his 300th victory on August 5, 2007 as a member of the New York Mets.

Greg Fiume/Getty

Greg Fiume/Getty

The most recent 300 game winner was Randy Johnson, who reached the milestone on June 4, 2009 pitching for the San Francisco Giants.

Simmons - NY Daily News

Simmons – NY Daily News

Gary Sheffield never stayed on one team for very long. So perhaps it is appropriate that his greatest achievement, home run number 500, took place during his brief stint with the New York Mets on April 17, 2009.

Greg Fiume/Getty

Greg Fiume/Getty

Wherever Jim Thome played, he was a beloved fan favorite. He joined the 600 home run club on August 15, 2011 not as a member of the Indians but with the Minnesota Twins.

I always wondered what those fan bases thought about those moments. They barely got to know these players but managed to witness one of their great career defining moments.

With A-Rod and Ichiro closest to 3,000 hits, I wonder where their celebrations will be. If CC Sabathia wins 95 more decisions, he will be a 300 game winner. Which uniform will he be wearing then?

Let’s appreciate those events, even if the uniform is a bit jarring.