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Mon, 11.18.1968

Gary Sheffield, a controversial baseball player

Gary Sheffield

Gary Sheffield was born on this date in 1968. He is a retired Black major league baseball player.

Gary Antonian Sheffield is the son of Betty Jones and stepdad Harold Jones. He was born in the Ponce de Leon housing project in the Belmont Heights section of Tampa, FL, and was raised by his mom and stepdad.  He did not discover until age 11 that his biological father was someone other than Harold.  That discovery about his real father was so unsettling that he began acting out in angry ways, joining a gang (the "Alley Cats") and earning a reputation for mischief.  Many predicted jail time in his future but Sheffield stayed out of major trouble by playing baseball.

Part of his success was under the tutoring and intimidation of his Uncle Dwight Gooden.  Gooden, only four years older than Sheffield, was more like a big brother.  He helped pave the way to baseball excellence for Sheffield.  His Tampa team finished second in the 1980 Little League World Series.  Sheffield has often put himself in controversial situations with his confrontational attitude, which sometimes leads to remarks construed as offensive. While he was younger, Sheffield and his uncle, Dwight Gooden, were arrested after fighting with police and resisting arrest in Tampa.

Sheffield was a first round pick of the Milwaukee Brewers, who selected him sixth overall in the 1986 amateur draft after a standout prep career at Hillsborough High School in Tampa.  He was a 9-time All-Star and led National League in batting average (.330) and total bases (323) in 1992. Sheffield was a member of the 1997 World Series Champions Florida Marlins and is the first player to represent five different teams in the All-Star Game. Sheffield is also known for having one of the fastest bat speeds in major league baseball.

As a professional, Sheffield hired a publicist from New York, who helped improve his image. At her urging, he started a charity, Sheff's Kitchen, that has given away tickets and autographs to many underprivileged kids. Through his financial donations, Sheffield has also revived the inner city baseball program in South Florida. In 1996, he began picking up new endorsements.

He makes public appearances speaking on issues that concern today's youth, including the importance of a continued education, positive self-esteem, and the avoidance of drugs. One of his main concerns is to enhance the education systems and increase economic opportunities in the inner cities. "Contributing to the community is one of the ways that I can convey my gratitude to those who have made me who I am today."

In the June, 2007 issue of GQ Magazine, Sheffield was quoted as saying that there are more Latin baseball players than Black players because Latinos are easier to control, a comment that was supported by Carlos Guillen.  Sheffield was hit by a pitch from Cleveland Indians pitcher Fausto Carmona on September 19, 2008, and walked to first base. It escalated into a brawl and Carmona and Sheffield were both ejected, along with Indians catcher Víctor Martínez and Tigers second baseman Placido Polanco. A few days later, the commissioner's office announced four suspensions resulting from the brawl including Carmona for six games and Sheffield for four games.

During a workout with Barry Bonds in 2001, a trainer applied a cream to Sheffield's knee to help heal ripped stitches from a knee surgery. Sheffield stated in his book, "Inside Power," that he had no knowledge of the cream containing steroids, and had no reason to assume contained steroids at the time.  Later he was listed in the Mitchell report as one of the players who had used steroids.

Sheffield currently works as a sports agent, he and his wife Deleon have three children, Ebony, Carissa, and Gary Jr.

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