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Dave Winfield on Playing for the New York Yankees, George Steinbrenner, and Coming to SF Next Week

Baseball Hall of Fame outfielder Dave Winfield joined Jeff Thurn on Thursday’s edition of Overtime. Winfield played in the Major Leagues from 1973 to 1995 for the San Diego Padres, New York Yankees, Los Angeles Angels, Toronto Blue Jays, Minnesota Twins, and Cleveland Indians. He had over 11,000 at-bats, 3,110 hits, 465 home runs, 1,833 RBI’s, and had a career .283 batting average. Winfield is also a 12-time All-Star and won the World Series in 1992.

He will be coming to Sioux Falls next weekend as part of Sanford’s Legends Event. On Friday from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m., Winfield will be at the Sanford Fieldhouse as part of a Baseball and Softball clinic.

Winfield on moving from the Padres to the Yankees in 1981:

“Wow, well, you know I’m a kid from the Twin Cities. So, I grew up in St.Paul-Minneapolis, went to college there, then San Diego for many years. I kind of cut my teeth on the Major League level, and then going all of a sudden going to the biggest stage in baseball the New York Yankees. For me, Jeff, actually I was ready for it. I knew how to play All-Star baseball. I knew I could play with just about anybody in the game, and it was time for me to try to win. You know, you can play hard all you want, but you have to your team. So, I went to a place where we thought we could win. Went to the World Series and didn’t win it, but we won a lot of games. I was prepared. I was 29 years old I think, and I remember instead of having two people with the media that would follow us in San Diego, that first introduction to New York City, I counted. There was like 125 media types. This was before we had the Internet, and 24-hour television cycles and all that. Back in the day, it was quite a change.”

Most memorable moment of George Steinbrenner when he was with the Yankees: 

“(Laughs). Maybe when I signed. (Laughs again). After that he kind of took it downhill. He was a tough customer. I don’t want to try and build any more dirt on him, so to speak, but he was a difficult kind of guy that he thrived on, I don’t know, kind of pushing people down and away. People say, yeah he just wants to win, but there’s different ways to do that with people. You know what I tell people, it’s interesting, I’m not a negative guy at all. So, sometimes it’s hard to dwell on it. 10 years I played there, and never got a pat on the back. Never said you were good or important or helpful to the ballclub. You know, I was key guy, and that’s a difficult thing to do. How do you keep being your best, being an All-Star, and giving to the community? I did, but that was my make-up, and my nature, but it was difficult coming to work just about everyday.”

How could baseball revive itself to today’s youth?

“It’s a complex issue because the world has changed. You know 40 years ago, no one really cared if basketball or the Celtics won seven or eight championships with Bill Russell. Remember they thought the first Super Bowl would be a failure, 40, or 50 years ago almost. Wasn’t even a sellout. Whoever thought that, fire him. There was no such thing as X-Games, where you put a roller skate on the bottom of a 2×4 and make it a multimillion dollar industry. So, the world has changed and baseball has to still think young and be able to attract and hold onto some younger people. That means MLB has to bring younger people in to think how to do that, and that’s quite true. You can’t be 70 or 80 years old, get television contracts, and people in the stadium, but that may not help you attract young people. So, they are going to make some changes and I am working with the Players Association, even though it’s on the other side of the MLB. We all work together, and try new things. We have some things cooking.”

Winfield on why he comes to events like Legends in Sioux Falls next week? 

“It’s a great thing to have, and I live my life and had a career. It’s what I set out to do. I gained some fame and notoriety in a positive way. To be able to give back and help other people, it’s a good thing. I could be hunting, fishing, and golfing, which I will do a little golf, baseball clinics, and at the dinner at the Legends event. I hear it is fantastic, and I cannot believe Sioux Falls has all these people over the years? I did not. It will be the first time I’ve ever been to South Dakota. I can check off another state I’ve never been to.”

To hear more of Winfield’s interview with Thurn, listen below:

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Thurn can be heard daily from 3 to 6 p.m. on ESPN 99.1.

*For comments and story ideas, email Sam at tastadsam@gmail.com, and follow him at @samtastad.

Andy Marlin/Getty Images

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