Great article: One player, four drafts: The remarkable tale of Dave Winfield's draft


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Nov 11, 2008
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per Yahoo:

Imagine what would happen if a guy like Dave Winfield — a phenomenal athlete drafted by four (!) different pro leagues — showed up in 2019.

Zion Williamson and Kyler Murray would be afterthoughts. NBA Twitter would establish churches in his honor. NFL draft tape-eaters would look for the slightest sign he wasn’t Serious About Football. Baseball fans would praise him as the game-saving messiah. Knicks, Mets and Giants fans would tear New York apart. Sports talk radio and daytime talk shows would fire off takes hot enough to be seen from orbit. It’d be glorious anarchy.

Dave Winfield isn’t walking through that door, even though he’d probably still get drafted if he did. He remains one of the few athletes in American sports history to get drafted by more than one pro league, and as Thursday’s NFL draft tipoff nears, it’s worth considering just how far we’ve come … and just what a remarkable cat Winfield was.

“It was a completely different world,” Winfield told Yahoo Sports recently. “[The draft] wasn’t a big business. There was not nearly as much media.”

A legend in the making
These days, Winfield would have been on three sports’ radars before he hit age 8. As a kid growing up in 1960s Minnesota, there wasn’t even a radar for him to fly under. Standing 6-foot-6 even as a high schooler, he played four years at the University of Minnesota, leading the Golden Gophers to a Big Ten basketball championship and winning the College World Series MVP his senior year as a pitcher. His greatest challenge was keeping both sports’ coaches happy while he shuttled from court to field.

“Come from indoor baseball practice after two or three hours of hitting, throwing, running, sprint through the tunnel to the gym, get my ankles taped, then fun and games with [coach] Bill Musselman and his madmen in their weighted vests, fighting … for rebounds, and developing wrist strength chucking around super-heavy basketballs,” Winfield wrote in his 1988 autobiography “Winfield: A Player’s Life.” “But it’s worth it.”

The hype today around Winfield would have been thermonuclear, but back then he was still unknown enough — and the sporting world not yet progressive enough — that a scouting report noted, “This boy is colored.” Times do change.

Padres scout Cobby Saatzer pegged Winfield with a definitive draft-if-available designation: “Have seen him hit balls a country mile,” Saatzer’s report read. “As a last resort I would put him on the mound, but he has too much power, and prefer him as a [sic] every day player. … Can play in the big leagues in a couple of years.”

Obviously, it’s worth noting that there were many more rounds of the draft back then, but there were also fewer teams, meaning the teams that were picking were casting some wide nets to see what they could land from an unproven pool of talent. Even so, check out this 1973 draft record:

Baseball: San Diego Padres, first round (fourth overall)

Basketball: Atlanta Hawks (NBA), fifth round; Utah Stars (ABA), fourth round

Football: Minnesota Vikings, 17th round

Winfield was one of only four players in history to be drafted in three different sports. Mickey McCarty, who played one year for the Chiefs in 1969; Noel Jenke, who played for several NFL teams in the early 1970s; and Dave Logan, who played for the Browns in the 1980s, were the others. While records for second-tier pro leagues are sketchy at best, it appears Winfield is the only player ever drafted by four different sports leagues.

Go Gophers!!

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