Friday, August 21, 2009

The Annals of Sport: Jesse Barfield

"I've seen a lot of 5-tool-players in my day, but none have the elusive 6th tool that Jesse has...guts."

-Billy Martin, former Yankees Manager

Born in Chesapeake, VA, Jesse Nathanael Barfield, became a mainstay in Major League Baseball for 13 years. Jesse was a three sport star in Football, Baseball and Track & Field at Royal Oaks High School, leading the Fighting Woodpeckers to state titles in all three sports. Although a highly touted track and and football star, Jesse declined a scholarship to the University of Virginia (who promised Jesse he could participate in both football and track)to sign a minor league contract with the New York Yankees.

After one year in the minors Jesse made the jump to the big leagues leading the 1982 rookie class in runs scored and OBP. It wasn't until Jesse was traded to a then struggling Toronto Blue Jays in 1991 that he became a household name. Batting clean-up and protecting young stars Joe Carter and Roberto Alomar Jr., Jesse played a large part in Toronto's first World Series Championship in 1992. Repeating in 1993 Jesse started a large decline in stats and held on for two more years (one strike-shortened and one injury plagued) before he hung up his spikes for good. Many believe Jesse should be a hall a famer, with a career .302 AVG, .361 OBP and 327 homeruns, and 3 gold gloves to boot. His numbers are in line with other HOF inductees of the era.

Jesse now is retired and lives in Charlottesville, VA where he owns a chain of sports-themed bar/grills named, Barfields. His youngest son, Jesse Jr. is currently a farmhand for the Cleveland Indians.