MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — “Winfield” is a name synonymous with athletics – as in Dave Winfield.
Dave and his brother, Steve, grew up in St. Paul. And when Dave wanted to give back with his brother, they founded the Winfield Foundation.
It is all part of their commitment to encouraging kids to be active in the inner city.
Ten St. Paul high school students were honored this year, and they’ve done much to get here.
“I’m on National Honor Society, I’m an A honor roll student, I did Roots & Shoots environmental club, senior class council. I was on general council and I ran for president. I do soccer, gymnastics and softball,” said St. Paul Central High student Alex Reeve.
Forty-one years ago, Dave Winfield was playing out his Hall of Fame career. But he wanted a legacy.
“David wanted to do some further things in the community, so instead of buying some bats and balls and things, a lot of us talked … ‘Why don’t we do something that would be long lasting?'” Steve said.
Dave learned to play baseball in St. Paul – not in formal leagues, but with informal training.
“I think about it all the time. We’d play off the step, called stoop ball, or stick ball, or home run derby and strike out – and that’s all we did,” Dave said. “Carried my glove everywhere we went.”
Dave and Steve are now part of the RBI League, where urban kids are given a chance to play the game.
“So many more things that kids are doing in the summer now that when we were growing up, baseball’s what you did in the summer,” Steve said. “And all these guys play lacrosse, they have hockey, they have basketball and it’s just not as automatic as it used to be.”
So the Winfields are trying to bring the game back to the city.
“About 200,000 kids, domestically and internationally, participate in this from many different countries, and these are the best of the best,” Dave said. “The kids that are playing in a program 23 years ago … started to get the underserved kids, give them the opportunity to play.”
But what they really want is to celebrate the student-athletes of the city, and show them they are worthy to make the cut.
“Kids have to take care of some business in terms of the classroom, and also in the community,” Steve said. “We figured there were some kids in the inner city, kids of color who just didn’t get recognized.”
These students have made a commitment, and it matters.
“Honestly, I really didn’t know what it was, and then I looked into it, and it’s an honor,” said Michala Murray of St. Agnes High School.
The Winfields started all of this so the kids could understand their dreams do matter, and what they do does count.
“I didn’t know any English when I first came here, so being here is really important for me,” said Hte Mow Chaw of Humboldt High School.
And when these student-athletes come back years later, they can come back a winner in life.