Monday, May 26, 2008

Steve's Autographs #6: Dave Winfield

February 2, 1980: Along with some of my Rainier Bank teammates (1979 Kent city champs -- I still have the trophy to prove it!), I went to Bellevue Community College for a winter baseball clinic starring Dave Winfield, Bruce Bochte, Rick Honeycutt and Willie Horton (no, not that Willie Horton). Except for Horton, who wore his street clothes, all dressed in their respective uniforms, which, for Winfield, meant the Padres' unfortunate Taco Bell-style uni.

They demonstrated batting and pitching techniques to us star-struck subjects, but the best part was the photo-op/autograph session. Horton beat a hasty retreat before it started, but my Seahawks sweatshirt prompted Winfield to ask me about the team, which just came off their first winning season (tho' their 9-7 record wasn't good enough to make the playoffs).

Afterwards, somebody tossed a basketball to six-foot-six Winfield, who dribbled it across the gymnasium court for a one-handed dunk (still in his Padres threads!). Fun fact: Besides being drafted by the Pads, Winfield was also drafted by the NBA's Atlanta Hawks, the ABA's Utah Stars, and the NFL's Minnesota Vikings. Since then, he killed a seagull, feuded with George Steinbrenner, and was elected to the Hall of Fame.

My dad took this 8x10 photo and mailed it to Winfield, who sent it back with the greeting: "To my friend Steve, best wishes and happy birthday, David Winfield #31." My dad surprised me with it the following June upon my 11th birthday.

The next year's clinic wasn't nearly as good: the star attraction was Dennis Leonard.

Here's Dave Winfield's official site.

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