Minnesota Twins Spring Training Countdown: 32, St. Paul Boy Comes Home

COOPERSTOWN, NY - JULY 24: Hall of Famer Dave Winfield is introduced at Clark Sports Center during the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony on July 24, 2016 in Cooperstown, New York. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
COOPERSTOWN, NY - JULY 24: Hall of Famer Dave Winfield is introduced at Clark Sports Center during the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony on July 24, 2016 in Cooperstown, New York. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /

The Minnesota Twins are just 32 days away from spring training. As we celebrate the end of the blustery temps and the return of the game we love, let’s look at team history surrounding that number.

The Minnesota Twins are preparing for a 2018 season with expectations after making the playoffs in 2017 as a Wild Card. We will have bring out numbers from team history that represent the number of days until spring training from now until pitchers and catchers report on February 13th.

With the election of Jack Morris to the Hall of Fame this winter, three St. Paul kids who graduated high school within a 5-year span from 1969 to 1974 have now made the Hall of Fame. With no disrespect to Morris or Paul Molitor, the best athlete by a long ways was Dave Winfield.

Winfield’s pre-Twins career

Winfield enjoyed a tremendously successful career at the University of Minnesota, playing for both the baseball and basketball teams. He was able to win a Big Ten title with the basketball team. He was also named the MVP of the College World Series in 1973, as a pitcher.

Winfield was drafted by four leagues in three different sports coming out of college. The Padres picked him as a pitcher with the 4th overall selection. The Atlanta Hawks of the NBA and Utah Stars of the ABA each drafted Winfield to play for their team. He even was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings to play football, in spite of not playing any football in college.

Winfield was promoted directly to the major leagues with the Padres, and while they did draft him as a pitcher, they also wanted the power of his bat in the lineup, so they put him in right field to make use of his arm.

Winfield proved to be everything a top draft pick could ever hope to be and more, making the All-Star game in his 5th season and had his first .300+ season in the next season. He would make 12 consecutive All-Star games for the Padres and then the New York Yankees after he signed there as a free agent in the 1980-1981 offseason.

Winfield had well-publicized feuds with Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, as the Yankee owner criticized his star outfielder’s production in the postseason and was caught more than once attempting to get local media to print fictitious and inflammatory articles about Winfield.

After Winfield missed the 1989 season due to a severe back injury, the attacks from his owner became incessant, and Steinbrenner was so caught up in defaming his outfielder that he associated himself with underworld connections to get embarrassing information on Winfield. That led to Steinbrenner being suspended from baseball for two seasons.

Winfield was traded to the California Angels, and after exercising his 10/5 rights to veto multiple trades previously, Winfield chose to accept a deal to get out of New York. He played two years with the Angels before finally winning a World Series with the Toronto Blue Jays in 1992.

Home with the Minnesota Twins

On December 17th, 1992, Winfield signed as a free agent with the Twins. This was going to be significant because Winfield was nearing some significant milestones in his career as he was 134 hits from 3,000 for his career, 7 away from 500 doubles, and 18 home runs away from 450 for his career.

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Winfield achieved all three in his first season with the Twins, 1993, as he hit .271/.325/.442 with 27 doubles, 21 home runs, and 76 RBI. He played through some injury issues in 1994, hitting .252/.321/.425 in 77 games, knocking out 10 home runs before the strike hit.

The Twins made a move to get Winfield to a competitor in case the season were to pick up in 1994 by selling his contract to Cleveland. He resigned with the Indians for 1995 for what would be his final season.

He played just 46 games in 1995, hitting .191/.285/.287 with 2 home runs.

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For 32 days to spring training, we’ll remember #32 for the Twins for coming home to have one of his best memories of his major league career!

Come soon, spring!!