Blue Jays Obscure Memories: Dave Winfield accidentally kills a bird
While we’re waiting for baseball to return, here at Jays Journal we thought it would be fun to look back at some obscure Blue Jays memories. Today, let’s go back to 1983 when Dave Winfield accidentally killed a bird.
Yesterday I asked my Twitter followers to give me some of their favourite obscure moments from Blue Jays history, and I’ll likely turn it into a bit of a mini-series while we wait for the return of Major League Baseball.
One of the better ones to come out of the thread yesterday was a story I had forgotten about until it was mentioned, and we have to go back to 1983 to tell this tale. A hat tip to @sdenison70 for bringing this one back for me, and likely for many of you.
In August of that year, the Blue Jays were playing a series in Toronto against the New York Yankees. At the time, the Yankees employed Dave Winfield, who would eventually go on to play in Toronto in 1992 as part of their first World Series championship. However, the loveable DH had quite a career before he ever got to Toronto, including a very successful stint with the Yankees from 1981-1990, when he was an All-Star every season but the last, when he was traded to the California Angels after just 20 games.
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Getting back to 1983, Winfield was warming up in the outfield before the start of an inning when a very strange thing happened. As the Yankees were warming up prior to the inning, one of Winfield’s throws struck and killed a bird that was on the field. It wasn’t at the level of the famous Randy Johnson fastball that killed a bird, but it was still enough to kill the poor thing.
Where things really got strange was what followed, as Winfield actually had to face some real criticism, and even a short-lived charge of animal cruelty. The fans weren’t happy with him, and he was quoted afterward saying, “You think it’s funny, but the fans were on my case and it’s tough enough to play this game”.
Thankfully the charges were eventually dropped against Winfield and it didn’t escalate from there, but it’s unfortunate that he even had to entertain the notion at all. It’s hard to believe that anyone would do this intentionally, let alone a likeable character like Winfield. And, I mean, it wouldn’t be the easiest thing to pull off either.
Obviously Winfield would later endear himself to baseball fans in Toronto, and I’m sure many of them either didn’t know about, or forgot all about the incident with the bird nine years before he became a Blue Jay.