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Winfield Accused of Making Loans to Gambler

The New York Yankees informed the baseball commissioner’s office in 1987 that Dave Winfield allegedly made loans to a gambler.

Rich Levin, a spokesman for Peter Ueberroth, confirmed that the commissioner’s office was aware of the charges after two sources told the Associated Press that the Yankees had made the information available. “The office of the commissioner has been aware of the charges raised by the New York Yankees about the possible involvement of Dave Winfield with an individual who allegedly has participated in sports betting,” Levin said.

“To date, evidence has not been presented or uncovered which would warrant commissioner action. We will continue to investigate the matter, taking into account any information which may arise out of the current litigation.”

Winfield and the David M. Winfield Foundation sued Yankee Owner George Steinbrenner Friday, charging him with failing to make $450,000 in payments to the foundation, as required by Winfield’s contract. Ken Warner, a lawyer for Steinbrenner, said the $450,000 had been placed in escrow.

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Steinbrenner countersued Winfield and the foundation on Monday, charging misuse of funds and alleging that Winfield failed to make $380,000 in payments to the foundation.

Steinbrenner’s lawsuit included allegations by Howard Spira, 29, of New York, who said that Winfield agreed to lend him $6,000 in 1981 with the understanding that he would pay back $8,000 a week later. Spira said that Winfield knew at the time that the money was to be used to pay gambling debts.

Spira also said that Winfield had lent him $15,000 on another occasion, with the understanding that Spira would pay back $18,500 within 2 or 3 weeks. Spira accused Winfield of threatening his life when he did not repay the money and said that he went into hiding for a year before settling his debt.

Jeff Klein, a lawyer for Winfield, said the outfielder was unaware that Spira was associated with gamblers.

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Rule 21 of the Professional Baseball Rules, which is posted in all clubhouses, states penalties for players who bet on games, but it does not have any specific provisions for associating with gamblers.


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