Commentary

Winfield: ASG memories focus on family

Updated: July 13, 2010, 5:58 PM ET
By Tim Haddock | Special to ESPNLosAngeles.com

Dave Winfield doesn't remember much about the 1988 Major League Baseball All-Star Game in Cincinnati's Riverfront Stadium, though he does remember getting a hit in what would be his last All-Star Game.

The Hall of Fame outfielder's thoughts were on his mother. She was watching the game on TV from her hotel room, too weak to attend the game in person because of her treatment for breast cancer. Winfield said the thing he remembers most about that day was reuniting with his mother, Arline V. Allison, after the game in her room. He remembers giving her a hug and seeing her smiling face. She was in a wheelchair and wore a wig because her hair had fallen out from the treatment. She was frail, but proud of her son.

She had good reason. Her son not only got a hit, his double started a rally that produced the winning run for the American League.

Terry Steinbach knocked in Winfield to give the AL a one-run lead. The American League went on to win the game, 2-1. For the record, Winfield got his double off Bob Knepper with no one on base. Steinbach drove in Winfield with a sacrifice fly.

[+] EnlargeDave Winfield
AP Photo/Lenny IgnelziDave Winfield made 12 All-Star teams in a row from 1977 to 1988.

But Winfield has trouble recalling what happened in the game. He doesn't remember who was pitching when he doubled in the fourth inning. He doesn't remember if anyone was on base.

"Don't even know who won," said Winfield, an ESPN analyst who played in 12 All-Star Games in his 22-year major league career. "I don't remember all those other details. You knew there was going to be some finality pretty soon. It was emotional."

"We had a good time," added Winfield, now a spokesman for the Susan G. Komen Answers for the Cure program. "For a few moments, a few days, she didn't have to think about her pain."

Allison died in October that year. She was 65 and died on Winfield's birthday, Oct. 3.

Winfield made 12 All-Star teams in a row from 1977 to 1988. His first was with the San Diego Padres. His last was with the New York Yankees. He was voted as a starting outfielder in the 1988 All-Star game.

"I always enjoyed going to the All-Star game and I gave it my best," Winfield said. "It's just coincidental the very next year [1989] I had back surgery at the end of the year. I thought I regained my form, but they let somebody else squeeze in. I thought I could have made another All-Star game or two.

"It's like anything, once you got momentum going, you want to keep it going. Once you're inside and involved, you want to stay there. Twelve wasn't quite enough for me. That's what I learned to live with."

Winfield played two more seasons with the Yankees before signing with the California Angels. He played two seasons in Anaheim before moving on to Toronto in 1992.

"It was a good time for me," Winfield said about his short stint as an Angel. "I had some difficult years in New York even though I loved the city. It was embattled sometimes with the owner of the club.

"But when I came to the Angels and Gene Autry, they wanted me there. It was nice to come to a place where you're wanted. It's comfortable out here. I couldn't believe it. I played a lot of years. You put up the numbers, you give back to the community, but people don't always see behind the scenes."

Winfield ended his baseball career with the Cleveland Indians in 1995 and was voted into the Hall of Fame in 2001.

Winfield said his mother was proud of his accomplishments in baseball, but "as long as her son was happy, healthy, she was proud of the things I always did: giving back to the community, the foundation," Winfield said. "She'd volunteer her time and efforts and help bring other people into it. She loved what baseball did for her and her son. It got me an education, the University of Minnesota. ... We got to go to the White House. It kind of helped fulfill her too."

Tim Haddock is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles.

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