Shohei Ohtani is listed at 6-4 and 210 pounds. He appears to be so solid of frame that the weight seems conservative. He astounds with power as both an everyday player and starting pitcher, and he also can stun with his speed.

Early this season. Watching an Angels game that is at a decisive moment. Ohtani hits a ground ball toward shortstop that appears routine and, with no misplay, beats it out.


Yes, Ohtani is completely unique in the "modern" major leagues (dating to 1901). Forget the Babe Ruth comparison. He pitched and batted full time in only two of his 20 seasons.

This does not mean no other athletes have existed to pull off a strong version, if big-league teams had stronger imaginations since the DH arrived in 1973.

Fact is, there was a very good candidate for full-time, two-way duty immediately that summer:

David Mark Winfield, born Oct. 3, 1951, in St. Paul, where he lived out his youth — Oxford Playground (now Jimmy Lee), Central High and the University of Minnesota, baseball star and basketball standout, before being drafted fourth overall by the San Diego Padres in 1973.

"My first question was, 'Did you draft me as a hitter or a pitcher?' " Winfield said last week. "And the answer was, 'Hitter.' "

Next came the signing bonus offer: a paltry $15,000.

To take that disappointing offer, Winfield said, it would require going directly to the major leagues.

"I told the Padres I wouldn't sign for that and go to the minors, even though their Triple-A team was in Hawaii," Winfield said, with a laugh.

He debuted in left field for the Padres on June 19, 1973. In Year 5, the expansion franchise remained in such sorry shape that a crowd of 5,338 showed up. Houston 7, San Diego 3, dropping the Padres to 20-46.

Winfield grounded out three times, then singled off Jerry Reuss to lead off the bottom of the ninth. It was the first of 3,110 regular-season hits. He played 22 years and was a first-ballot Hall of Famer, primarily as a terrific right fielder.

He showed every talent there is on a baseball field, except the use of his other tremendous talent: pitching.

"It would've required some adjustments the way I was used, maybe two games in the outfield and two as the DH between starts, but, yes, I can imagine it," Winfield said. "Nobody thought that way, really not until Ohtani, but being a starting pitcher and everyday player was the way I envisioned myself as a player.

"My first couple of years at the U for Coach [Dick] Siebert, I was only a pitcher. Fortunately for me, I spent two summers in Fairbanks, playing for the Alaska Goldpanners collegiate team.

"Jim Dietz — he just passed away recently, a great man — was coaching there. He let me take my turn as a pitcher and then I played in the outfield in the other games.

"That was a great place to play in the summer. The games started at 10 at night, at midnight everyone there would celebrate the new day, and then the game would resume. They never turned on the lights in that ballpark."

This turned on the light for the Gophers also. They started using Winfield in the outfield when he wasn't pitching. In 1973, Winfield led Minnesota to the College World Series as the ace pitcher (and hitter).

Winfield beat Oklahoma 1-0 in the CWS opener. Later, they had one loss and were playing unbeaten Southern California to stay alive. Roy Smalley was a standout on a loaded Trojans team that included Fred Lynn and Rich Dauer.

"We were losing 7-0 going into the bottom of the ninth," Smalley said. "They now talk about the point a pitcher is releasing a pitch, especially a fastball. Well, there weren't many 6-foot-6 pitchers then, and fewer throwing as hard as Dave. And it seemed like the ball was on top of you as soon as he released it.

"One at-bat, I was trying to gear up for the fastball, and he threw me a two-strike breaking pitch, and I just threw the bat at it … bat went flying into the dugout.

"We had no chance. There were going to be three teams left with one loss: us, Gophers and Arizona State. And then a strange thing happened. Up 7-0, a Gopher tried to bunt leading off the top of ninth. And then the next Gopher also tried to bunt.

"Freddie went going nuts in center field. I'd never seen him that mad. He came to the dugout screaming. Winnie was gassed. We scored a couple of runs. They went to the bullpen and we just kept hitting."

Winfield was now in left field as the Gophers tried for the final two outs. Siebert had been ejected from the game for arguing a USC runner was out at the end of a potential double play.

"He was right," Winfield said. "Blown call at first. It was a double play."

Smalley: "I'll never forget it. We were rallying hard and the coach [assistant George Thomas] started walking out to left, to find out if Dave could go back in the game. And Dave put his right hand up and gave his index finger a 'no chance' wave."

Winfield: "When you strike out a lot of batters — 15 that game, I think — you throw a lot of pitches. We weren't counting exactly then, but it was around 140.

"After cooling down out there, my arm was numb. I couldn't have gotten a warmup throw to home plate."

Southern California 8, Gophers 7. The Trojans would win the CWS. Winfield was named the tournament's outstanding player. Hitting … but mostly for fantastic pitching.

"Last game I ever pitched," he said.

Paul Molitor, also St. Paul, same neighborhood, another Gophers all-time great, another first-ballot Hall of Famer, was asked if Winfield was the ballplayer with the best chance to replicate Ohtani … decades in advance.

"John Olerud was a great two-way player at Washington State," Molitor said. "He probably could have done it, to a degree. But he didn't have Dave's overall athletic ability.

"Knowing his background as a pitcher, Dave Winfield stands alone as a ballplayer who had a chance to do both full time. He was a big, strong man — had all the proverbial five tools covered."