A mistake that didn’t fly

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Birds aren’t the only creatures to suffer indignities at the hands of sports folks. In his autobiography, star pitcher Dwight Gooden told how he saw New York Mets teammate Kevin Mitchell behead his girlfriend’s cat during an argument. Minor league pitcher Jae Kuk Ryu intentionally knocked an osprey off its perch with a baseball; the bird died six days later. A golfer named Harry Wagner clubbed to death a 6-foot black swan because he felt “threatened” by the bird.

And the all-time champion of animal abuse was Mississippi State football coach Jackie Sherrill, who attempted to “educate and motivate” his players in 1992 by having a bull castrated on the practice field.

Ouch!

Afterward, Sherrill remained clueless, apologizing “if this incident was in any way not perceived as proper.”

Winfield, though, was hardly that kind of lout. An educated, well-spoken man, he was widely admired while batting .283 with 3,110 hits, 465 home runs and 1,833 RBI during a 22-year major league career. He remains the only athlete to be drafted in three major sports (by MLB’s San Diego Padres, pro basketball’s Atlanta Hawks and Utah Stars and the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings.

On second thought, maybe big Dave should have chosen hoops. After all, there are no seagulls in basketball arenas.

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