Then came a report in Newsday indicating that the foundation had spent about $6 for every $1 it gave away in 1986; the numbers, the story said, were released by lawyers for Steinbrenner. Winfield admitted that the overhead was excessive and blamed it on wasteful employees, employees he said he had fired before the numbers went public.
But many of the details smelled a little rank: a $46.40 bill charged to the foundation for balloons Winfield had sent to Shanel. ("The florist charged the wrong account," says Klein.) According to Sharon Roma, an independent auditor, the foundation has cleaned up its act. In 1991, says Roma, for every dollar the Winfield Foundation received in donations, only 25 cents went toward administrative costs. Still, tell that to your average Yankee fan. Years of sweat and goodwill—more than 400,000 underprivileged kids have attended ball games, zoos and plays for free, thanks to the foundation—all went down the 11 o'clock news drain.
The big, gap-toothed grin was gone. Winfield became paranoid about whom he posed with, what check he signed, what hand he shook. "There are people out there who know who you are and exactly how much money you make," he has said. "They know everything about you, and they have their plan."
Yankee fans, predictably, began to distrust him. Could all of it—the foundation stuff, Spira, the common-law marriage suit, Roper, the gambling allegations—be somebody else's fault? Even the baseball got thrown into a fuzzy light. Let's see, sure, he was a great player, but had he ever really dented the game itself? One American League pennant, a black hole of a World Series appearance, no MVPs, no home run titles. Even his closest brush with history, his chase for the 1984 American League batting crown, had ended sourly. He lost it to Yankee teammate Don Mattingly on the final day and left the clubhouse without talking to the press.
Says Winfield now, "Only I know how much better I could have been without all the distractions."
Arline Winfield died at 9:30 p.m., almost 37 years to .the hour since she had given birth to David.
The family had known for two years that she might die of the cancer, so Winfield had tried hastily to prepare for the day. After seven years of keeping Tonya a continent away, he decided to marry her in February of 1988. His father did not attend the wedding, but his mother was in the front row. He brought his mom to the 1988 All-Star Game, but she never got out of the Cincinnati Hyatt. She watched it on television with her private nurse.
He invited Shanel, the five-year-old daughter he hardly knew, to come to Minneapolis. He wanted her to know her grandmother before she became infirm. But Renfro wouldn't send her. Shanel did not even know that her father played major league baseball. She had been told he lived in Texas.
Finally, months later, two days before Arline's death, Shanel arrived. The awkwardness was awful. The warning Winfield's father had given him years ago rang in his ears. Someday you 'II have kids. We'll see how you work it out! Shanel and Winfield were blood strangers.
The day before his mother died, Winfield says, he came upon Shanel in the kitchen, writing a note in crude crayon letters. The note read, "Money Now."