For his career Gary Sheffield put up Hall of Fame caliber numbers. However, with the Milwaukee Brewers organization the only hall Gary Sheffield would be inducted in, is the hall of shame.
In 1986 the Milwaukee Brewers used the sixth pick of the draft to take Gary Sheffield. He was regarded by many as the best prep hitter in history at that time. Sheffield played six seasons with the Milwaukee Brewers organization.
Sheffield’s antics began almost as soon as he took the field in the Minors. He clashed with teammates and management alike at every level of the Brewers farm system. Not to mention every organization he was with after Milwaukee.
According to reports, when playing in Single-A, Sheffield was charged an error on a throw in from the outfield. He yelled at the scorer to no avail. Still seething from the error, Sheffield threw a ball so hard it ended up in the stands the next inning. His shenanigans only continued from there.
With starting third baseman Paul Molitor on the disabled list in 1989, Sheffield was installed as the everyday third baseman. This did not sit well with him. Rookie Bill Spiers was named the starting shortstop. According to an article by Matthew J. Prigge, Sheffield saw himself at that position and felt the decision had racial undertones.
Spiers was drafted in 1987. Sheffield felt Spiers had received preferential treatment from the organization. At that point Sheffield’s relationship with management began to deteriorate.
Whether he was allegedly making errors purposely, or accusing the Brewers organization of racism, Sheffield loathed being a Brewer. Feeling passed over by less talented, white athletes, only fueled his fire.
It all boiled over in 1989. Sheffield struggled out of the gate. Although team doctors had cleared him, he complained of foot problems all season. He went back to Triple-A in July. A team doctor with his Minor League team discovered a fracture in his foot.
Sheffield was reportedly so unhappy in Milwaukee that he asked then owner, Bud Selig, for a trade daily. On top of that he was quoted, wrongly or not, admitting he purposely played poorly to push for a trade.
"The Brewers brought out the hate in me. . . . I was a crazy man,” Sheffield said. “I hated (Dalton) so much that I wanted to hurt the man. I hated everything about that place. I didn’t even want to come to the ballpark. If I missed a ball or something, so what?“If the official scorer gave me an error that I didn’t think was an error, I’d say, ‘OK, here’s a real error,’ and I’d throw the next ball into the stands on purpose. I did it all."
In March of 1992 Milwaukee traded Sheffield to the San Diego Padres. They received an underwhelming return. Netting RHP Ricky Bones, SS Jose Valentin, and OF Matt Mieske. All of them went on to have major league careers. But they couldn’t match Sheffield’s career put together as a trio.
After trading Sheffield, the 1992 Milwaukee Brewers finished the season 92-70, four games behind the Toronto Blue Jays in the AL East. Sheffield almost won the triple crown for the Padres. Had Sheffield been in the Brewers lineup, it wouldn’t have been 26 years between playoff appearances.
The Gary Sheffield era with the Brew Crew ended almost as soon as it began. He became a baseball nomad and changed teams every few years. He enjoyed success for sure, but it was always surrounded by controversy and he never stayed too long.
Strictly by the numbers Sheffield is a Hall of Famer. There is a lot of animosity toward him from Brewers fans, but after all these years, what’s the point? He was a kid back then. He believed the Brewers were wrong.
Sheffield was as real as possible. He gave it to you how it was. Whether his answer was what you wanted or not, he gave HIS answer. In this day and age that is definitely something everyone should appreciate. Gary Sheffield should be in the Hall of Fame and hopefully he goes in with a Brewers cap.