Dave Winfield was the first athlete in history to be drafted by four different leagues, but in the end he chose Major League Baseball over the NFL, the ABA and the NBA – and found a home in the National Pastime.
The outfielder didn’t spend a single day in the minor leagues following a stellar career at the University of Minnesota. He began his career with the San Diego Padres just days after becoming the fourth overall pick in the 1973 MLB Draft.
A five-tool talent who had four seasons with at least 20 stolen bases, Winfield was named to the first of 12 All-Star Games in 1977 and topped the .300 mark in batting average for the first time the year after that.
Winfield found success even when his team did not. In 1979, he had a National League-best 118 RBI in a season when the Padres only scored 603 times. Winfield finished third in the NL Most Valuable Player voting that season when he also won the first of seven Gold Glove Awards in right field.
From San Diego, he moved onto New York following the 1980 season as a free agent, signing a 10-year deal worth $23 million – the richest contract in professional sports history. He helped the Yankees win the American League pennant in 1981 and recorded six 100-RBI seasons in seven years from 1982-88.
After missing the 1989 campaign due to a back injury, Winfield returned in 1990 and was traded to the Angels early in the season. Following the 1991 season, Winfield became a free agent and joined the Toronto Blue Jays.
At the age of 40, Winfield drove in 108 runs as Toronto's regular designated hitter, earning a fifth-place finish in the AL Most Valuable Player voting. In Game 6 of the World Series against the Braves. Winfield's 11th-inning double plated two runs and was the difference in the 4-3 victory that gave the Blue Jays their first World Series title.
Following his one year with the Jays, he went back to his hometown and played for the Twins in 1993 and 1994. He collected his 3,000th career hit with Minnesota in 1993 before finishing his career with the Indians in 1995.
Winfield was a 12-time All-Star selection who amassed 3,110 hits, 465 home runs and 1,833 RBI.
He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2001.