39 Years Ago Today
In a game in Exhibition Stadium, Dave Winfield threw a ball that hit and killed a seagull.
It sounds like the setup for a joke.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, Winfield threw the ball he was using back towards the dugout and hit a seagull, killing it after warming up between innings.
If you are old enough to remember Exhibition Stadium, you will remember that seagulls liked the place.
There was a fair bit of debate over whether he did it on purpose or not. I always thought that it was possible he threw at the bird but figured it would see it and fly off. I’m pretty sure he never figured he would hit it. That would take a pretty good aim, even if it didn’t move. He was about 80 feet away from the bird when he threw the ball.
His manager, Billy Martin, said, “That’s the first time Winfield’s hit the cutoff man all year.”
The silly part of it all was that, after the game, Winfield got arrested for causing “unnecessary suffering of an animal.” I don’t know what was going through the minds of the police officers. Maybe they disliked the Yankees as much as I do, but I wouldn’t arrest someone. Winfield got taken to the police station. Pat Gullick paid his $500 bail to get him released.
The next day the charges were dropped. The crown attorney, “It is always a key issue to find criminal intent, and I am satisfied there was none here.”
Before the police showed up, Winfield’s teammates were teasing him about it. After.....well, they weren’t happy. Again from Billy Martin:
I’ll tell you one thing. When Toronto comes down to New York next week, we’re going to get their four starting pitchers arrested. We’re going to have somebody call the police and say they were molested in the hotel.
That pretty much tells you everything you need to know about Billy Martin.
Paul Godfrey went to New York to apologize to Winfield in person.
The seagull had an autopsy (they do autopsies on seagulls? How would you like that job?), and they found that the seagull was not well before being hit by the ball, which explains why it didn’t avoid the ball. They said it would have died within the next couple of weeks anyway.
The following winter, Winfield came to Toronto and brought a painting he got someone to do, with seagulls flying and a red maple left, which he put up for auction. It raised $32,000
for the seagull’s family for Easter Seals.
If you are wondering, the Yankees won 3-1. Dave Stieb threw a complete game, allowing 6 hits, 3 runs, 3 walks, and 5 strikeouts. Shane Rawley got the win for the Yankees, throwing a complete game.
Winfield went 2 for 4 with 2 RBI.
33 Years Ago Today
Dave Stieb loses a perfect game with two out in the 9th inning. The season before, he had no-hitters lost with two outs in the 9th in back-to-back starts.
The Jays would win this game 2-1 over the Yankees.
The Yankees weren’t the great team they would become in a few years, but they had some good hitters.
Their starting lineup:
In the ninth, Hal Morris pinch hit for Velarde, and Ken Phelps (made famous by Seinfeld) pinch hit for Espinoza. But the ninth hitter, Kelly, doubled to end the perfect game, and Sax followed with a single to end the shutout. Stieb would get Polonia to end the game.
On the Jays’ side, we had just 5 hits. George Bell had 2, and Ernie Whitt and Mookie Wilson had an RBI each.
Stieb would end up with a 2-hit complete game, with 11 strikeouts. He threw 90 pitches (65 strikes). The win got him to 11-6 with a 3.90 ERA. He would end the season 17-8 with a 3.35 ERA in 33 starts and 206.2 innings (a low number for Stieb, he threw 288.1 innings in 1982) and just three complete games.