What Machemer didn't know was that when Sheffield went to Helena, at 17, he tried to get his folks to take care of his day-to-day finances. But Harold said no. "You won't be able to handle $1 million a year if you can't handle $12,000." he told his stepson.
When Sheffield moved up to Milwaukee, his new teammates didn't know what to expect. "We'd heard things, but I don't think he said three words the entire month," says catcher B.J. Surhoff. "He watched and listened."
His mother isn't surprised. "Gary's always been a great listener," she says. "Anyway, before he left for Milwaukee, Dwight told him to look and listen."
Five days before departing for spring training this year, Sheffield had the GS removed from his teeth. He also gave some of his gold jewelry to his family. The night before he left, he talked on the phone to his uncle. "Now remember," said Gooden, "stay away from the street, work hard and have fun."
"What could ever be more fun than playing baseball from sunup to sundown?" says Sheffield. Then his thoughts return to the playground: "In the neighborhood, I've seen what the streets can do."
That's why this phenom from the best baseball address in America won't ever go home to Belmont Heights again.