Gary Sheffield

Gary Antonian Sheffield (born November 18, 1968) is an American former professional baseball outfielder who played in Major League Baseball for eight teams from 1988 to 2009. In retirement he is a sports agent.

Gary Sheffield
Sheffield with the Yankees in 2005
Outfielder / Third baseman
Born: (1968-11-18) November 18, 1968
Tampa, Florida, U.S.
Batted: Right
Threw: Right
MLB debut
September 15, 1988, for the Milwaukee Brewers
Last MLB appearance
September 30, 2009, for the New York Mets
MLB statistics
Batting average.292
Home runs509
Runs batted in1,676
Career highlights and awards

For most of his career, Sheffield played right field, though he has also played left field, third base, shortstop, and a handful of games at first base. He played for the Milwaukee Brewers, San Diego Padres, Florida Marlins, Los Angeles Dodgers, Atlanta Braves, New York Yankees, Detroit Tigers, and the New York Mets. Sheffield was a first-round pick of the Brewers, who selected him sixth overall in the 1986 amateur draft after a standout prep career at Hillsborough High School in Tampa, Florida. He bats and throws right-handed.

Sheffield hit his 500th home run on April 17, 2009. As of his last game, Sheffield ranked second among all active players in walks (1,475), third in runs (1,636), fourth in RBIs (1,676), fifth in hits (2,689) and home runs (509), and sixth in hit by pitches (135). He is the only player in history to record 100 RBIs in a season for five different teams.

Sheffield's batting swing was an exemplary mix of savage speed and pinpoint control. Despite his high home run total, Sheffield only topped 80 strikeouts twice in 22 seasons, while finishing his career among the all-time top 20 walks leaders. Because of his combination of skill, sportswriter Joe Posnanski wrote, "I can't imagine there has ever been a scarier hitter to face." His first manager Tom Trebelhorn said, "Gary can turn on a 38-caliber bullet.”[1]

He is the nephew of Dwight Gooden. After retirement, he started to work as an agent. His clients include former reliever Jason Grilli.[2]

Sheffield was mentioned in the Mitchell Report and implicated in the 2004 BALCO scandal with respect to the use of performance-enhancing drugs.

Early life

Sheffield was born in Tampa, Florida, and grew up in Belmont Heights, near the Ponce de Leon projects.[3] He and his family lived with his uncle, Dwight Gooden, who would go on to become the ace pitcher for the New York Mets. They played baseball frequently and Sheffield learned how to hit a fastball from Gooden,[3] who is only four years older than he is.

Sheffield was a good hitter in the Little Leagues. However, Sheffield had problems with his temper and attitude, which would continue in the Major Leagues. Once, when he was late to practice, his coach benched him and Sheffield picked up a bat and chased the coach all over the field, resulting in him being kicked off the team for a year.[3] When Sheffield was eleven, he was selected to the Belmont Heights Little League All-Stars, which included future Chicago Cubs #1 pick Ty Griffin, future Major Leaguer Derek Bell, and other future MLB players.[3] The team made it to the finals of the 1980 Little League World Series but lost to Taiwan 4–3. He set a record for doubles that would be broken in 2012 by Bradley Smith.[4]

High school

In 1983, Sheffield made the Hillsborough High School varsity baseball team. During his junior year, he bulked up to 175 pounds and was a pitcher and third baseman.[3] During his senior year, his fastball reached the upper 80's and he frequently showed home run power. As a batter, Sheffield hit .500 and 15 home runs, in only 62 official at-bats.[3] At the end of the season he was named the Gatorade National Player of the Year.[3]

Professional baseball career

Sheffield in 1988

Minor leagues

After high school, the Milwaukee Brewers drafted Sheffield with the sixth pick of the first round of the 1986 MLB draft.[5] Sheffield later said that if he had not been drafted in the first round, he probably would have played college baseball for the Miami Hurricanes.[6] After being drafted he was shipped to Helena of the Pioneer League, where he had a .365 batting average and 71 RBIs in 57 games. The only question was what position he would play. He was slotted at shortstop, but struggled at the position, committing many errors and wild throws. In 1987, he was assigned to Stockton of the Class-A California League, where his defense improved and he produced at the plate. His batting average went below .300, but he led the league in RBIs with 103, and at the end of the year he was voted the Brewers' best prospect. In his third season, he went from Double-A to the majors. In 134 games for the El Paso Diablos and Denver, he batted .327 with 28 homers and 118 RBIs.

Milwaukee Brewers

Sheffield was called up from the minors when rosters were expanded in September and made his major league debut on September 3, 1988. As a teenager, he got off to a fast start, with his first career hit being a home run off Mark Langston, though Sheffield finished the season with a .238 batting average and four home runs in 24 games. After a decline in play and several injuries, he found himself competing with Bill Spiers in a race for starting shortstop. After this, he was moved to third base and criticized the team, saying it was a black and white issue.[7] At the end of the 1989 season, he batted .247 with five home runs and 32 RBIs. In 1990, he worked under Don Baylor, who had been hired as their hitting coach. He finished the season batting .294, with 10 home runs. While his playing improved, there were issues with Sheffield in the clubhouse, and went as far as accusing the organization of being racist after keeping him at third instead of playing him at shortstop where the white Spiers played.[8] In his final season with the Brewers, he injured his wrist, thumb, and shoulder, playing in only 50 games.[3]

San Diego Padres

After four seasons in Milwaukee, the Brewers traded Sheffield to the San Diego Padres for Ricky Bones, José Valentin, and Matt Mieske on March 26, 1992. Sheffield faced his uncle Dwight Gooden for the first time in a Major League game on May 12, 1992, getting a hit in three at-bats. In his first All-Star season, he contended for the Triple Crown for much of the year; while he missed out on the home run (33, two fewer than the leader, teammate Fred McGriff) and RBIs (100, nine fewer than leader Darren Daulton) titles, he won the National League batting title (the only one of the nine in Padre history not won by Tony Gwynn) with a .330 average.

In 1993, he started the season by hitting 10 home runs and batting .295 and was traded in midseason to the Florida Marlins.

Florida Marlins

On June 24, 1993, he was traded, with Rich Rodriguez, to the Florida Marlins for Trevor Hoffman, José Martínez and Andrés Berumen. He finished the season hitting 10 home runs, batting .292 and knocking in 37 runs while with the Marlins, and was the starting third baseman for the NL in the All-Star Game. At the end of the season, the Marlins gave him a four-year deal that made him the highest-paid player at third base.[9] During the 1994 season, the Marlins moved him from third base to right field. Sheffield hit 112 home runs with the Marlins from 1994 to 1998, including 42 in 1996, making the All-Star Game in 1996, and leading them to victory in the 1997 World Series against the Cleveland Indians. On July 13, 1997, Sheffield became the first player in Florida Marlins history to hit two home runs in one inning.[10] He was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1998 because the Marlins allegedly could not afford a contract extension and because the Dodgers' parent company at the time, News Corporation, was looking to secure a television contract with the Marlins in exchange for trading popular Dodger Mike Piazza.[3]

Los Angeles Dodgers

On May 14, 1998, he was traded along with Manuel Barrios, Charles Johnson, Bobby Bonilla, and Jim Eisenreich to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Mike Piazza and Todd Zeile. Sheffield finished the season with the Dodgers batting .316 and hitting 16 homers while driving in 57 runs. In 3½ seasons with the Dodgers, he hit 129 home runs and drove in 367 runs. He made three All-Star games while playing with the Dodgers and had become one of the best outfielders in the game. But during the off-season, he began lobbying for a trade because he thought the Dodgers were spending their money stupidly and sliding in the wrong direction, and publicly criticized coaches and teammates.[3]

Atlanta Braves

On January 15, 2002, Sheffield was traded to the Atlanta Braves for Brian Jordan, Odalis Pérez, and Andrew Brown. He spent two seasons with the Braves hitting 64 home runs and knocking in 216 RBIs including 132 in 2003. After two seasons with the Braves, he became a free agent for the first time in his long career on October 27, 2003.

New York Yankees

On December 19, 2003, after negotiations between Sheffield and George Steinbrenner, a contract was agreed upon with the New York Yankees worth $39 million over three years. This deal included $13.5 million in deferred money and a $13 million team option for 2007.[11] He joined a lineup that included Derek Jeter, Jason Giambi and the newly acquired Alex Rodriguez. In his first season with the Yankees, Sheffield started slowly, but finished the season with 36 home runs, 121 RBIs, and a .290 batting average, helping him finish second in the MVP voting behind Vladimir Guerrero. On July 27 Sheffield hit his 400th career home run off of Micheal Nakamura of the Toronto Blue Jays in the top of the 9th inning. In his second season with the Yankees, he continued to play well, hitting another 34 home runs and driving in 123 runs. Sheffield started the 2006 season on pace for a .300 batting average and 30 homers, before he collided with Shea Hillenbrand of the Toronto Blue Jays on April 29, 2006. He tried to play despite the injury, but ultimately needed wrist surgery. Sheffield did not return until late September. He had lost his right field job to Bobby Abreu, whom the Yankees had acquired in a trade deadline transaction. This forced Sheffield to play first base for the first time in his MLB career.[12] At the end of the 2006 season, the Yankees picked up Sheffield's 2007 option and traded him to the Detroit Tigers.

Detroit Tigers

Sheffield (right) with the Tigers in 2007.

On November 10, 2006, he was traded to the Detroit Tigers for minor league pitchers Humberto Sánchez, Kevin Whelan, and Anthony Claggett. After the trade, Sheffield agreed to a two-year, $28 million extension.[13] In his first season with the Tigers, he hit 25 home runs, with 75 RBIs, and a .265 batting average. Sheffield also hit his first triple since 2004 and stole 20 bases for the first time since 1990. He was also one of only six batters in the AL to have at least 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases, along with Alex Rodriguez, Grady Sizemore, Ian Kinsler, B.J. Upton and teammate at the time Curtis Granderson.

On September 8, 2008 in a game against Oakland, Sheffield hit the 250,000th regular season home run in Major League Baseball history according to The home run was a grand slam off Gio González;[14] Sheffield had hit baseball's 249,999th home run against Gonzalez in his previous at-bat. Sheffield ended the 2008 season with 499 career home runs.

On March 31, 2009, Sheffield was released by the Tigers despite being owed $14M. The Tigers said in a statement that they wanted to have more versatility with the DH position.[15]

New York Mets

On April 3, Sheffield agreed to a deal with the New York Mets for the 2009 season,[16] and he finalized the deal the following day.[17]

Sheffield with the New York Mets in 2009

On April 17, Sheffield hit his 500th home run in a game against the Milwaukee Brewers, becoming the 25th player in MLB history to reach that milestone, the first player to achieve this as a pinch hitter, and the first to do so in a Mets uniform.[18] Sheffield would also become the third player in Major League history to hit home runs before age 20 and after age 40, joining Ty Cobb and Rusty Staub. Alex Rodriguez became the fourth player to do so in 2015.[19] Sheffield sat out a game in August when the Mets declined to offer him a contract extension.[20]


Sheffield did not play in 2010. Though he initially suggested he wanted to sign with a team for the 2011 season,[21] he announced his retirement at the beginning of 2011 spring training.[22]

Career highlights

Sheffield batting for the New York Mets
Championships earned or shared
Title Times Dates Ref
National League batting champion 1 1992
National League champion 1 1997
World Series champion 1 1997
Awards received
Name of award Times Dates Ref
ESPY Award for Best Breakthrough Athlete 1 1993 [23]
Florida Marlins Most Valuable Player Award 1 1996 [24]
Gatorade National High School Baseball Player of the Year 1 1986
Major League Baseball All-Star 9 199293, 1996, 19982000, 200305
Major League Baseball Player of the Month 1 August 1992
Major League Baseball Player of the Week 12 1992 May 24, 1993 Jun 13, 1994 May 1, 1995 Sep 24,
1996 Aug 11, 2000 Jun 18, 2000 Jul 16, 2001 Apr 15,
2003 May 18, 2004 Jun 6, 2005 Jul 17, 2007 Jun 10
Silver Slugger Award 5

1996, 2003−05
Sporting News Comeback Player of the Year 1 1992
Sporting News Major League Player of the Year 1 1992
Sporting News Minor League Player of the Year 1 1988
USA Today Top High School Baseball Player 1 1986


  • Became only the second Padres hitter in franchise history to win a batting title joining Tony Gwynn
  • Holds Los Angeles Dodgers single-season record for at-bats per home run (11.7 in 2000)
  • His Tampa team finished second in the 1980 Little League World Series
  • Is the first player to represent five different teams in the All-Star Game.
  • Tied Paul O'Neill as the oldest player to hit 20 home runs and steal 20 bases in a season, at age 38 (2007)
  • First player to hit at least 25 home runs for 6 different teams
  • 25th player in MLB history to reach 500 home runs, and the first player to do so as a Met
  • Had 8 seasons with 30 or more home runs
  • Holds the record for most MLB ballparks played in (51) [25][26]
  • One of 2 players in MLB history, along with Fred McGriff, to have 30 or more home runs in one season for 5 different teams (Los Angeles Dodgers [×3]; New York Yankees [×2]; Atlanta Braves [×1]; Florida Marlins [×1]; San Diego Padres [×1]) [27][28]

Statistical leader

  • Led National League in batting average (.330) and total bases (323) in 1992
  • Led National League in on-base percentage (.465) and OPS (1.090) in 1996

National Baseball Hall of Fame consideration

Sheffield has appeared on balloting for the National Baseball Hall of Fame since 2015, when he received 11.7% of the vote, well short of the 75% required for election, but above the 5% minimum required to remain on the ballot. His support has increased to 40.6% as of the 2022 ballot, his eighth appearance. A player may appear on the ballot a maximum of 10 times.


In 1986, Sheffield was arrested alongside his uncle, Dwight Gooden, and fellow Tampa baseball player Vance Lovelace and charged with resisting arrest with violence and battery on a police officer. He pleaded no contest in January 1987 and was sentenced to two years probation.[29]

In October 1987, while still on probation, Sheffield was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated and related offenses. Those charges were eventually consolidated into one reckless driving charge. His probation was extended for an additional 18 months.[30]

On December 5, 1993, Sheffield was arrested after being clocked driving a Ferrari Testarossa 110 miles per hour (180 km/h) on Interstate 4 in Florida and failing a breathalyzer test. In May 1994, he pleaded no contest to reckless driving and was sentenced again to nine months of probation and 40 hours of community service.[31]

On April 14, 2005, a Red Sox fan leaned over the railing at Fenway Park and distracted Sheffield as he was going to field a ball hit by Jason Varitek. After Sheffield took a swing at him with his glove, he threw the ball back into the infield, and then got into a verbal altercation with him. Fan Interference was not called, resulting in a game tying RBI triple for Varitek. The fan, a long-time season ticket holder, was not ejected from Fenway Park, but he donated his remaining 2005 season tickets to charity in an effort to avoid any controversy for the remainder of the season. Sheffield was fined for the incident. Charges were dismissed against both the fan and Sheffield.[32]

Throughout his career, Sheffield was verbal about his need for sufficient financial compensation and respect, demanding better pay when he was with the Dodgers, and refusing to play in the inaugural World Baseball Classic, saying the regular "season is when [he's] getting paid."[33]

In the June 2007 issue of GQ magazine, Sheffield (a Detroit Tiger at the time) was quoted saying that there are more Latin baseball players than African-American players because Latinos are easier to control. "What I said is that you're going to see more black faces, but there ain't no English going to be coming out. ... (It's about) being able to tell (Latin players) what to do — being able to control them.... Where I'm from, you can't control us." He continued "They have more to lose than we do. You can send them back across the island. You can't send us back. We're already here."[34]

During a July 2007 interview with HBO's Real Sports, Sheffield said that Yankees manager Joe Torre treated black players differently from white players during his time there, citing himself, Kenny Lofton and Tony Womack as examples. Lofton later agreed with Sheffield's comments about being treated differently, but disagreed that race was the motivating factor. After it was pointed out that Derek Jeter is biracial, Sheffield responded that he wasn't "all the way black."[35]

On September 19, 2008, Sheffield was hit by a pitch from Cleveland Indians pitcher Roberto Heredia Hernández (pitching under the name Fausto Carmona at that time) and walked to first base. When Hernández (Carmona) threw to first base, he and Sheffield exchanged words and Sheffield charged the mound, attempting to tackle Hernández but being caught in a headlock and punched a few times on the top of his head by the young pitcher, leading to a bench-clearing brawl. Hernández and Sheffield were both ejected, along with Indians catcher Víctor Martínez and Tigers second baseman Plácido Polanco.[36] On September 22, the commissioner's office announced four suspensions resulting from the brawl: Hernández was suspended for six games, Sheffield received a four-game suspension, and Martinez and Indians infielder Asdrúbal Cabrera each received three-game suspensions. Sheffield made statements after the suspension that the involved players from the Indians would be "penalized" by him as well.[37]

Steroid allegations

During a workout with Barry Bonds in 2001, a cream was applied to Sheffield's knee by a trainer to help heal ripped stitches from a knee surgery. Sheffield states in his book, Inside Power, that he had no knowledge of the cream containing steroids, and had no reason to assume so at the time. He goes on to say in his book that the cream did nothing to strengthen his knee, and also states that a look at his numbers shows no improvement after the incident.[38]

On December 13, 2007, Sheffield was named in the Mitchell Report as one of the players who had obtained and used steroids.[39]

In their book Game of Shadows, reporters Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams allege that Sheffield worked with and received steroids such as testosterone and human growth hormone from his and Barry Bonds's personal trainer Greg Anderson. The book also details steroid calendars found in possession of Anderson outlining numerous steroid cycles Sheffield was to have undertaken after the 2001 season.

Personal life

In October 1995, Sheffield was shot in his left shoulder after an attempted robbery when he stopped his car at a traffic light in Tampa.[40]

Sheffield and his wife Deleon reside in Tampa, Florida. They have three sons. Sheffield has four other children from previous relationships. Deleon is a gospel recording artist and has sung the National Anthem at Yankee Stadium during a playoff game with Sheffield on the lineup.[41]

Sheffield's cousin, Derrick Pedro, played outfield in the Milwaukee Brewers organization.[6][42] Sheffield's cousin, Tim Carter, played professional football as a wide receiver.[43]

See also


  1. Posnanski, Joe (17 January 2017). "Ballot 12: Gary Sheffield". Retrieved 2020-03-06.
  2. Kepner, Tyler (June 22, 2013). "Guided by Sheffield, Journeyman Pitcher Is Now a Star". The New York Times. Retrieved July 1, 2019.
  3. " Sheffield Biography from Jock Bio". Archived from the original on 2017-08-21. Retrieved 2008-02-07.
  4. Little League Baseball (September 17, 2019). "Little League World Series Records". Little League Baseball and Softball. Retrieved October 26, 2020.
  5. Bio
  6. Gammons, Peter (April 5, 1989). "Street Smarts". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 19 January 2018.
  7. Is Older and Better
  8. Interview
  9. Sheffield, Reconsidered – Part I
  10. "Sheffield Has an Inning to Remember". Los Angeles Times. July 14, 1997. Retrieved August 12, 2021.
  11. "Sheff prepared for Boss to lean on him". Associated Press. December 17, 2003. Retrieved August 6, 2009.
  12. "Gary Sheffield Stats". Retrieved 2020-03-06.
  13. Beck, Jason (November 10, 2006). "Tigers acquire Sheffield for prospects". Archived from the original on 2011-06-15. Retrieved August 6, 2009.
  14. DETROIT (AP) (September 9, 2008). "Sheffield has 2 homers, 5 RBIs and Tigers beat A's". Yahoo! Sports. Retrieved August 6, 2009.
  15. Beck, Jason (March 31, 2009). "Tigers release Sheffield". Archived from the original on April 3, 2009. Retrieved August 6, 2009.
  16. "Mets statement regarding Gary Sheffield". April 3, 2009. Retrieved August 6, 2009.
  17. He had his first at bat as a Met on April 3, against the Cincinnati Reds. It resulted in a strikeout against Arthur Rhodes.Slugging outfielder Sheffield joins the Mets
  18. Sheffield reaches 500
  19. Hoch, Bryan (July 27, 2015). "Alex Rodriguez homers on 40th birthday". Retrieved July 27, 2015.
  20. Hernandez Is Released, Wagner Returns, and Sheffield Sits and Pouts – NY Times
  21. Gary Sheffield Wants To Make A Comeback With The Rays At Age 42 – Business Insider
  22. Gary Sheffield says he's retired, makes pitch for Hall – ESPN
  23. The ESPN Sports Almanac. ESPN Books. 2008. pp. 528. ISBN 978-1-933060-38-5.
  24. "Gary Sheffield awards". Baseball Almanac. Retrieved August 27, 2016.
  25. "Most MLB Ballparks Played In". Google Docs. Retrieved 2020-03-06.
  26. "Effectively Wild: A FanGraphs Baseball Podcast". Retrieved 2020-03-06.
  27. *Winner of the 2nd Annual Black Masters in 2019 Gary Sheffield Statistics and History
  28. Fred McGriff Batting Statistics and History
  29. "Gooden Pleads No Contest, Gets Probation". The Los Angeles Times. 24 January 1987. p. 47. Retrieved 7 February 2022.
  30. "Player's probation extended". Tampa Bay Times. 21 January 1988. p. 10. Retrieved 7 February 2022.
  31. "Outfielder Sentenced". Reno Gazette-Journal. 25 May 1994. p. 37. Retrieved 5 February 2022.
  32. "Interfering Sox Fan Has Tickets Revoked". Reading Eagle. April 19, 2005. Retrieved 2 October 2014.
  33. "Gary Sheffield, Unplugged". CNN. August 5, 2005. Retrieved May 3, 2010.
  34. "Sheffield tries to explain controversial remarks". Archived from the original on 2007-06-06.
  35. ESPN – Sheffield calls out Torre, Jeter, Bonds in HBO interview – MLB
  36. "Indians win with walk-off hit as Carmona, Sheffield brawl". wire reports. September 19, 2008. Archived from the original on September 23, 2008. Retrieved September 20, 2008.
  37. "Sheffield given four-game suspension: Tigers slugger won't appeal, begins serving it Monday" Archived 2008-09-27 at the Wayback Machine, Jason Beck, September 22, 2008. Retrieved on 2008-09-26.
  38. "MLB Will Not Punish Sheffield For BALCO Admission". San Francisco: KTVU. Archived from the original on 2009-01-16.
  39. George J. Mitchell (December 13, 2007). "IJF Final Report" (PDF). Office of the Commissioner of Baseball. Retrieved December 29, 2022.
  40. Sheffield Shot at Traffic Light
  41. Doug Miller (September 24, 2008). "Gospel star finds church of baseball". Retrieved December 29, 2022.
  42. "Derrick Pedro Minor Leagues Statistics & Cousin Derrell fluker was also a top Baseball player who played independent baseball for 5 seasons History". Sports Reference. Retrieved 19 January 2018.
  43. Schwartz, Paul (22 September 2004). "It's All Relative – Jints' Carter Has 7 Pro-Athlete Kin". New York Post. Retrieved 19 January 2018.
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