At one point during the 1980’s, it looked like the Mets could develop a supertalented outfielder at will… or at least have one that looked like a budding star and a big prospect.
Whenever the Mets needed to make a big deal, they would dangle the likes of a Shawn Abner, a Stanley Jefferson, a John Christensen and even a pre Brad Pitt Billy Beane and boom! They’d make the trade.
Why not? Darryl Strawberry worked out. So did Mookie Wilson, Lenny Dykstra and Kevin Mitchell!
When the Mets were trying to pry away Gary Carter, part of the package was the promise of Herman Son Winningham. The South Carolina native was a speedster that made Montreal think they had another jack rabbit to go along with Tim Raines as the Expos were building around speed in a similar blue print as St. Louis.
Winningham hit for a high average in the minors and stole a ton of bases. He was a can’t miss player. So after 14 games with the 1984 Mets, he went to Montreal for the 1985 season.
Gary Carter cemented his Hall of Fame resume with a championship in New York. Meanwhile Winningham stole a lot of bases but did not hit much in the bigs.
He would show flashes of brilliance. In a game on June 13, 1987, he got on base 4 times, including a homer, scoring 3 and stealing a base. But those games were few and far between in Quebec.
In 1988, he was flipped for a pair of enigmatic under achieving prospects, Pat Pacillo and Tracy Jones, as he went to the Reds.
With the 1990 Cincinnati squad, he was part of an outfield that manager Lou Piniella mixed and matched and flipped and flopped all the way to the World Series. Winningham started 31 games in that crowded outfield but made the most of his October.
In Game 2 of the NLCS, with the Reds down 1-0 to Pittsburgh, he went 2 for 4 with a double, a walk and a run scored in Cincinnati’s 2-1 series tying win.
In World Series Game 4, with the Reds on the verge of a startling sweep of the A’s, Winningham had to come off the bench when hitting star Billy Hatcher was hurt after a hit by pitch.
Winningham responded with a single in the 6th inning. In the top of the 8th, with the Reds trailing 1-0 to Dave Stewart, Barry Larkin singled. Throughout the rest of the series, Hatcher would be up next and his .750 World Series batting average indicated the chances of a rally were high.
Instead Winningham came to the plate. That great speed that the Mets trumpeted and the Expos coveted? The Reds were the beneficiary of it. He lay down a bunt in front of home plate and beat the throw. The Reds had the tying and go ahead runs on the basepaths.
Glenn Braggs tied the game with a ground out. Hal Morris singled home Winningham to make the score 2-1 Cincinnati. It would be the final run scored in the 1990 season.
Willie McGee hit a deep flyball to Winningham to close out the 8th. Oakland would go 1-2-3 in the 9th and the Reds (and Winningham) were champs.
After another year with the Reds, he landed with the Red Sox, as this card indicates. I am a die hard Boston Red Sox fan. I have not one single memory of Herm Winningham playing for the Red Sox.
In 1993 he was in the minors for the Red Sox before finishing his professional career back in the Mets organization, the place where his journey started all those years ago.