Harold Reynolds had a recurring joke with former MLB commissioner Bud Selig. When Reynolds won the Roberto Clemente Award while playing for the Mariners in 1991, he originally received a bronze baseball. Cool, but not this.
After MLB switched to a Heisman Trophy-style depiction of Clemente for winners of the award a number of years later, Reynolds would bring up the discrepancy to Selig while announcing the winner every World Series.
“I’d say, ‘I need one of those Heismans! I need one of them!’ ” Reynolds said. “He’d be like, ‘You’re fine, you’re fine.’ Then one year he said, ‘I have a special announcement before we get started.’ He pulled out my own new Clemente Award with the Heisman look to it. So, that sits on my mantle now. It’s pretty cool.”
The excitement surrounding Roberto Clemente Day on Friday is hardly confined to trophies. When it comes to Reynolds, he has had the date circled on his calendar for a long time. That’s because he’ll appear live from PNC Park as part of MLB Tonight on MLB Network prior to the Pirates’ game against the Yankees.
Adnan Virk, Dan O’Dowd and Cameron Maybin will be back in Secaucus, N.J., while Reynolds will be on-site, rotating through various guests and discussing all things Clemente.
It’s actually the second consecutive year Reynolds has been around the Pirates on Roberto Clemente Day, as he co-hosted from Citi Field last year, as well. But being in Pittsburgh, which Reynolds called one of his favorite cities, will mean so much more on this special day.
“Man, it’s gonna be awesome,” Reynolds said, the excitement in his voice palpable. “First of all, to be a Clemente Award winner and know the family, then to come to Pittsburgh and do a show? It’s gonna be great.”
The on-site broadcast has fit with how MLB Tonight has adjusted its format this season, taking Reynolds to various ballparks and leveraging access with players and coaches. Although the Pirates are obviously out of the playoff race, it should afford the team some national shine.
“It’ll be great to see all the guys wearing the Clemente gear, the shoes and all that stuff,” Reynolds said. “It’ll be fun. We’ll get a lot of guests. It’s quite an honor to do it.”
Spending Roberto Clemente Day in Pittsburgh carries a special meaning for Reynolds, who credited Luis and Roberto Clemente Jr. for how well they’ve preserved and promoted their father’s legacy, as well as the work done by Thomas Brasuell, MLB’s former vice president of community affairs who’s now the president of the Roberto Clemente Foundation.
Reynolds considers the award to be on the same level as the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, and he’s not wrong. The Clemente Award brings out a neat, special side in players because it rewards the impact players had on others, not just statistics.
“It’s the biggest award in baseball,” Reynolds said.
It also produces a “special, exclusive” club, which includes Pirates legends Andrew McCutchen (2015) and Willie Stargell (1974). David Bednar is a two-time nominee with this year’s team.
The best example of that for Reynolds came last season, when MLB recognized a bunch of former winners in New York. One of them was Hall of Fame outfielder Dave Winfield, someone Reynolds’ older brother Don played with in San Diego.
Harold Reynolds was amazed to learn about Winfield hosting a bunch of underprivileged kids at Padres games and also how importantly Winfield used his platform for good, deeds that led to Winfield winning the award in 1994 when he was with the Twins.
Reynolds remembered a conversation he had with Derek Jeter (2009 winner) about Winfield and how he got started with community outreach efforts.
“I asked him, ‘How’d you get started with this, Derek?’ He was like, ‘Dave Winfield was my guy when I watched the Yankees growing up. He had a foundation, and he did all this stuff,’” Reynolds said. “Dave had no idea of the impact he had on generations moving forward.
“If you look at all the things that I did in Seattle, all the things that Derek did in New York and all the stuff Winfield did in different places he played, how many thousands of people we were able to touch.”
That willingness to help others and celebrate players helping others is why Reynolds can’t wait to get to Pittsburgh and celebrate the Clemente name.
“That’s what’s cool about the exclusive group,” Reynolds said. “You get a chance to really talk to guys. It’s a very unique group of people. The accomplishment is second-to-none.”
Jason Mackey: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @JMackeyPG.
First Published September 14, 2023, 9:36am
As good as Dave Winfield was at the plate, one can only imagine what he would have done on the mound!
JUNE 17, 2023
It has been 50 years since pitcher Randy Jones and outfielder Dave Winfield became forever linked in Padres lore by the trade of left-hander Fred Norman to the Cincinnati Reds.
Jones was called to the majors to replace Norman in the Padres’ starting rotation. Most of the $150,000 that came from the Reds — along with outfielder Gene Locklear and pitcher Mike Johnson — was used to pay Winfield’s signing bonus.
It would be a no-brainer now, especially given the success of the Angels’ Shohei Ohtani.
But a half century ago, a two-way player in the major leagues was never a consideration, not even for the penurious Padres.
Dave Winfield, a 6-foot-6, 220-pound two-way star, was more accomplished as a right-handed pitcher than a hitter when the Padres drafted him in 1973 out of the University of Minnesota.
He would become one of the most accomplished hitters in major league history. Never taking the mound in the majors may be the only regret of Winfield’s 22-year Hall of Fame career.
“Shohei Ohtani is doing today what I was doing back then,” Winfield said by phone this week. “The teams didn’t have the foresight or the vision or the inspiration then.”
It’s no wonder that when he arrived in San Diego, Winfield believed he could be a two-way player, telling The San Diego Union then: “I really think I could do either. But they think of me as an outfielder, so that’s what I’ll be.”
Winfield isn’t complaining about the decision.
“When I look back, first of all, I really appreciated the opportunity just to play there in San Diego,” Winfield said. “It was tough because we didn’t win a lot of games, but that’s who brought me to the dance, so to speak.”
It all began 50 years ago Monday — June 19, 1973 — when Winfield debuted against the Houston Astros at San Diego Stadium.
Dave Winfield’s debut
Date: June 19, 1973 (drafted in first round, fourth overall, of 1973 MLB Draft).
Opponent/site/result/crowd: Houston Astros, San Diego Stadium, 7-3 loss before 5,338.
Stat line: Went 1-for-4, with a run scored and an outfield assist (threw out Tommy Helms at second base).
Notable: First of 3,110 career hits was a single against Jerry Reuss leading off the ninth inning.
Quotable: “There was a lot I had to learn. It was a whole different stage. A whole different environment. All of the sudden I’m playing against people I read about or saw on TV or on a poster.” — Winfield
Padres highlights: Went straight to the majors out of the University of Minnesota. In 1977, made the first of four All-Star appearances for San Diego. He was named Padres team captain a year later. Best season was in 1979 when he batted .308 with 34 home runs and NL-leading 118 RBIs. He was inducted into the Padres Hall of Fame in 2000. The franchise retired his uniform No. 31 in 2001, the same year he was elected on the first ballot to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. He was the first player enshrined wearing a Padres cap.
Winfield had plenty of options. Also a starting forward on the Minnesota basketball team, Winfield was drafted by the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks and the ABA’s Utah Stars. Winfield never played a down of college football, but the NFL came calling, too. The Minnesota Vikings drafted him as a potential tight end.
But his future was playing baseball — and not once every five days.
“We want him as an everyday player,” Bob Fontaine, the Padres’ player personnel director, said at the time. “With his ability to run and hit and throw, we think he would be more of an asset in the lineup every day.”
Before Winfield could sign with the Padres, there was the matter of leading Minnesota into the College World Series.
Winfield beat Oklahoma in one game, striking out 14 batters in a 1-0 win over the Sooners.
In the semifinals against USC, Winfield limited a Trojans lineup that included four future major leaguers — Fred Lynn, Roy Smalley, Steve Kemp and Rich Dauer — to one hit with 15 strikeouts through eight shutout innings.
He tired in the ninth inning, and coach Dick Siebert brought in a reliever with the Gophers leading 7-0. The Trojans rallied for an 8-7 win and went on to win their fourth straight national championship.
In addition to his pitching performance, Winfield batted .467 (7-for-15). He was selected Most Outstanding Player of the series, despite his team not making the final.
A week later, Winfield was standing in left field at San Diego Stadium.
“That was part of the negotiations,” Winfield said. “I had my options with basketball and football, and I said, ‘If I choose baseball, I have to go right to the major leagues.’
“They granted that wish. … I didn’t know what I was getting into, but I certainly didn’t want to go to the minor leagues.”
Only 24 players have gone straight to the majors during the draft era (since 1965).
Chicago White Sox left-hander Garrett Crochet, drafted out of Tennessee in 2020, is the only player to do it in the past decade.
In addition to Winfield, Texas Rangers pitcher David Clyde, a high school left-hander, and Minnesota Twins pitcher Eddie Bane, an Arizona State left-hander, also went straight to the majors out of the 1973 draft.
Winfield is the only one in the Straight-to-the-Majors club to reach the Hall of Fame.
His career began with little fanfare — or fan interest.
There were 5,338 witnesses to Winfield’s debut. The fan base was turned off more, no doubt, by the prospect of seeing a 19-46 team than it was turned on by the chance to get a glimpse of a future Hall of Famer.
On a pleasant evening in Mission Valley, Winfield played left field and batted seventh — between third baseman Dave Roberts and second baseman Rich Morales — in a 7-3 loss to the Astros.
Winfield went 1-for-4 against Houston left-hander Jerry Reuss. He was hitless in his first three at-bats, flying out to center field and grounding out twice, before reaching on an infield single to third base for the first of 3,110 career hits.
“I hit a smash,” Winfield said. “Doug Rader was a gold glove third baseman. He knocked it down, threw over to first. I remember running full speed and I saw the throw was off the base, a little high. Can you believe it, my first hit was a head-first slide.
“I didn’t know what it took to get a hit. There was a lot I had to learn. It was a whole different stage. A whole different environment. All of the sudden I’m playing against people I read about or saw on TV or on a poster.”
There is a San Diego connection to Winfield’s development as a hitter.
He was strictly a pitcher his first three seasons at Minnesota. That’s what he was listed as when he played two summers in the Alaska Baseball League.
San Diego State coach Jim Dietz coached the Goldpanners team Winfield played on in Alaska and penciled him into the lineup as a hitter as well.
Back in Minnesota for his senior season, Winfield says, “Coach, here are my stats,” after being 1972 MVP of the league in Alaska.
Siebert, the Gophers coach, finally let him pick up a bat. Winfield rewarded the decision by hitting nearly .400 and finishing second in the Big Ten in RBIs.
And off he went.
Winfield would become a fixture in right field for the Padres over seven seasons, developing into one of the National League’s most complete all-around players.
He thrilled fans with a big swing that produced long home runs, a strong arm that made runners think twice about going from first to third and long legs that made it seem like he could steal second base in three strides.
Winfield provided a power bat for the Padres, highlighted in 1979 when he hit 34 homers and had an NL-leading 118 RBIs.
Such statistics drew interest outside of San Diego, of course, and the Yankees signed Winfield to a record $23 million, 10-year free-agent contract following the 1980 season.
Winfield recorded a .283 batting average over his 22-year career, accumulating 3,110 hits, 465 home runs, 1,833 RBIs and 223 stolen bases. He was a 12-time All-Star who won seven Gold Gloves and four Silver Sluggers.
He was the 19th player in major league history to reach the 3,000-hit milestone — collecting the big hit in 1993 with his hometown Minnesota Twins.
Winfield was a first-ballot Hall of Famer in 2001 — and the first player to come to Cooperstown wearing a Padres cap.
Contrary to common belief, Winfield said he was not compensated for choosing the Padres over the Yankees.
He was inducted into the Padres Hall of Fame a year earlier, and his No. 31 is among six numbers retired by the franchise.
Winfield remains busy in baseball as special assistant to executive director Tony Clark of the Major League Baseball Players Association.
– The Major League Baseball Players Association has launched a campaign to unionize Minor League Players across the country. The historic effort kicked off Sunday night after receiving overwhelming support from the MLBPA’s Executive Board.
“Minor Leaguers represent our game’s future and deserve wages and working conditions that befit elite athletes who entertain millions of baseball fans nationwide,” MLBPA Executive Director Tony Clark said. “They’re an important part of our fraternity and we want to help them achieve their goals both on and off the field.”
The campaign is supported by Advocates for Minor Leaguers, which has served as a voice and resource for players since 2020, bringing heightened attention to the substandard working conditions that exist throughout the Minor Leagues. Each member of the Advocates for Minor Leaguers staff has resigned to take on a new role working for the MLBPA.
“This generation of Minor League Players has demonstrated an unprecedented ability to address workplace issues with a collective voice,” said Harry Marino, outgoing Executive Director of Advocates for Minor Leaguers. “Joining with the most powerful union in professional sports assures that this voice is heard where it matters most – at the bargaining table.” “This organizing campaign is an investment in the future of our game and our Player fraternity,” Clark said.
July 17, 2022
On the eve of Major League Baseball’s 92nd midsummer classic, the All Star Game, my wife and I created and hosted an most exquisite off field event to kick off the 2022 All Star Weekend. We teamed up to create “Evening of Champions”, a VIP, Invitation only, star-studded, red-carpet event for the icons, legends and luminaries of sports, business, entertainment and culture to celebrate All Star Game week. The luxurious Maybourne Hotel in Beverly Hills was the venue for this championship affair. The food, drinks, decor, music and guest list reflected and highlighted Los Angeles with its legendary culture of achievement, winning, career dreams, aspirations and successes.
It was magical evening, a celebration of friendships, relationships, gratitude and the fun around the All Star game that they are so familiar with.
I was an All Star twelve times” “Los Angeles is the perfect place o bring together the champions of sports, business and entertainment, for an evening to remember. We thought this was a great way to highlight the midsummer classic and we did just that”
Celebrities included Earvin Magic Johnson, Sugar Ray Leonard, Cal Ripken Jr, Derek Jeter, Barry Bonds, etc., along with television, movie stars, Cedric the Entertainer, L.L. Cool J, Smokey Robinson Anthony Anderson and Shannon Sharpe were in attendance. We stepped up to the plate and hit the pitch out of the park with “Evening of Champions”. This VIP affair in the City of Angels may very well have catapulted MLB All Star Game festivities to a new level.
Dave Winfield and Ken Griffey Jr. will be among the advisers for a permanent exhibit that re-examines the contributions of Jackie Robinson and others.
On Baseball | Jackie Robinson Day
Jackie Robinson lived only a decade as a Hall of Famer. He suffered from diabetes and died of a heart attack at age 53, in 1972. Robinson had integrated the major leagues a quarter-century before, and he never stopped striving for social justice.
“I marvel at how much this man did in such a short period of time,” said Doug Glanville, a former major league outfielder and an ESPN analyst, who gave his son the middle name Robinson. “He lived, like, five lifetimes. He was in his 50s when he passed away, and you sit there and go, ‘How in the world did he do all this? How did he take all this on?’”
Glanville teaches a class on sports and society at the University of Connecticut and assigns students a letter Robinson wrote to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., in 1960, urging King to help quell the infighting between the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the N.A.A.C.P. Robinson co-founded a Black-owned bank in Harlem, served as a columnist for New York newspapers and wrote in his autobiography that he could not stand and sing the national anthem.
His contributions, in other words, went much deeper than suiting up for the Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbets Field on April 15, 1947. As Major League Baseball celebrates the 75th anniversary of Robinson’s debut, his legacy is getting a thorough re-examination at the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.
The Hall will announce on Friday that it has begun a two-year project to create a permanent exhibit on Black baseball. This will replace the current one — Ideals and Injustices — which was installed in 1997 to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Robinson’s debut.
“We know that there’s a greater depth to these stories that probably wasn’t told in the past, including more Black perspectives and interpretations,” said Josh Rawitch, the president of the Hall of Fame.
“If you think about the research that’s been done and the way that society now understands the racism that existed both before and since Jackie Robinson, those are all really important things that in some ways are tackled in the current exhibit but in other ways probably not done to the extent that they can be.”
The advisory board for the project will include several former players — Glanville, Adam Jones, Dave Stewart and the Hall of Famers Ken Griffey Jr., Barry Larkin and Dave Winfield — as well as historians and representatives from the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Mo., and the Players Alliance, a nonprofit made up of current and former players. Rawitch has also spoken with current players, like Dee Strange-Gordon of the Washington Nationals, who could be involved.
The Hall — located in a mostly white community and with a mostly white staff — has also created a new, full-time position for someone to help coordinate the project from a different perspective.
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“We have to be able to tell the story authentically,” Rawitch said. “So, with that, we are searching for a curator who’s lived the experience either through their race, through their studies or through their understanding of what it was like to experience what these players experienced.”
Winfield pointed out that the Hall of Fame had inducted many more Black players and officials since 1997 — more than three dozen, including pioneers like Bud Fowler, Minnie Miñoso and Buck O’Neil in this year’s class — and said it was time for a fresh look.
“The biggest thing is that so much more history has been researched, revealed, unearthed — and this is American history,” Winfield said. “Of course it’s baseball history, but baseball is an integral part of America. You hear many times now that people are trying to erase or whitewash history, and that’s not good. It’s very important that worthy people can take their place and be recognized.”
M.L.B. officially recognized the Negro leagues as major leagues in late 2020, and the Hall has grappled with how to acknowledge the efforts by some of its inductees to uphold the color line. It has kept up all of the plaques, choosing context over erasure: A sign near the gallery entryway now reminds visitors that “enshrinement reflects the perspective of the voters at the time of election.” The museum and the library, the sign adds, provide deeper analysis — the shining and the shameful — of the inductees’ careers.
Such accounting will be essential to the new exhibit, and with more than 150 years of history to review it is a massive undertaking. Glanville said he preferred the term exploratory to advisory, because there is so much still to learn about the Black experience in baseball, so much that continues to evolve.
“There’s still a common thread, even in 2022,” Glanville said. “Pioneering efforts, whether it’s Ketanji Jackson, whatever — there’s a lot of barbed wire, there’s a lot of pain, there’s a lot of familiarity to some of the hurdles that Robinson faced.
“And at the same time, there’s a lot to celebrate, a lot of hope. Because when you are a first and you are opening certain doors, you see possibilities. You see the chance to bring everybody with you through the best of what we profess to celebrate — at least foundationally — of equality and what our country was founded on.”
Rawitch said the exhibit would have a digital and traveling component for those who cannot get to Cooperstown. It will highlight not just hardship, as Glanville suggested, but also the ways that the Black experience has enriched and enlivened baseball — a useful reminder as the sport seeks to increase Black participation numbers in the majors that have fallen sharply since their peak in the 1980s.
That was Winfield’s prime, and he said he hopes the display will feature video of stars like Griffey and Bo Jackson — and, yes, himself — climbing walls that seemed unscalable, of Rickey Henderson stealing bases at rates unheard-of today, of Dave Parker rounding the bases with a flair all his own.
“Speed, style, power — just a unique style of play,” Winfield said. “You tell people what a lot of these players accomplished, it’s almost incomprehensible.”
That is the Hall of Fame’s mission, reflected again in its newest project: to make the incomprehensible come to life, to contextualize and glorify the game-changers. Jackie Robinson is just one of many.