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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Winfield Leaves Game as a Winner

COMBINED REPORTS


NEW YORK -- "I've been reinvented a couple of times," said Dave Winfield, 44, on the occasion of his retirement from baseball after 23 major league seasons. "Bad guy, frank and insightful, loser, winner."


Finally, he said on Thursday, "You become a leader."


For a long time -- after 15 or17 seasons -- he thought if he left the game, the way he'd have been seen would have been "unfair."


That image was summed up in the "Mr. May" tag stuck on Winfield by New York Yankees' owner George Steinbrenner in 1981 when the right fielder went 1 for 22 in the World Series and the Yankees lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers.


Steinbrenner wanted a second "Mr. October" to replace Reggie Jackson when he signed Winfield as a free agent in December 1980, but after the 1981 disappointment, Steinbrenner did his best to run Winfield out of New York, and served a suspension because of it.


It was only 11 seasons later, with Toronto, when Winfield hit a two-run double in the 11th inning of the sixth game to seal the Blue Jays' 1992 World Series victory over the Atlanta Braves, that he finally shed the loser image he had been stuck with in New York.


It was after that "one stinkin' little hit," as Winfield called it at the time, that he said: "When I played for the Yankees, a lot of disparaging things were said about me and done to me.


"But now, tonight, everything is so good for me. Finally."


On Thursday the 12-time All-Star said: "I have played with some of the best players in the history of the game and met some of the finest people in the world. I want to say thanks to each club for the opportunity, to the fans for their support and to everyone who was part of my living my boyhood dream."


The seven-time Gold Glove winner, who began his career in 1973 with the San Diego Padres after being drafted by basketball, football and baseball teams, finishes his career with 3,110 hits, and 465 homers. He joins Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Stan Musial, Carl Yastrzemski and Eddie Murray as the only players to record at least 3,000 hits and 400 homers.


Winfield ranks 11th all-time in RBI with 1,833, 14th in hits and 19th in homers. He finished his career on Cleveland's reserve list with a shoulder injury. Thursday, Winfield described the image he would like to leave behind: "Let people recognize that I played with dignity and respect for the game."


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