Winfield proud to be in Washington

Winfield proud to be in Washington

Hall of Famer and current Padres vice president/senior advisor Dave Winfield and his wife, Tonya, will be among thousands who will gather in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday for Inauguration Day as president-elect Barack Obama is sworn in.

Winfield has attended two other Inauguration Day ceremonies, though he said recently in an interview with MLB.com that he's especially looking forward to this particular event, because of its historical ramifications.

Winfield recently shared his thoughts with MLB.com's Corey Brock on attending Inauguration Day, and what president-elect Obama's historic day means to him.

Having an African-American president is such a monumental change for this country. It really is. I never thought that this was something that we would see in my lifetime. But here is such a bright, intelligent, thoughtful, committed and fresh politician.

He's such a fresh leader, and you get the feeling that it's time for something new. I think Americans really feel like they need that now. He has motivated this nation, and people are putting their trust in him, as am I.

The first time I met president-elect Obama was when he was first starting his campaign for president. He visited our church in Los Angeles, where I had the opportunity to hear him speak and meet him afterward.

There was no way of knowing at the time that he would be our next president. The odds, I think, were so long. He was still so new to the political scene, a young, really, almost untethered politician. He didn't owe a lot to people. He just said he was committed to serving the country. That's when he started down that road. It was improbable, but now I think there's a lot of momentum with this president.

This will be my third Inauguration Day. I have been before when President Reagan was sworn in, because I was doing some things, campaigning against substance abuse, which was something First Lady Nancy Reagan supported. I was also there for President Clinton when he was inaugurated.

But from what I hear, this is going to be different. There are going to be a lot of people. It's a very festive atmosphere, people dressed up to go to the balls. It's really a convergence of political people, business people and others. There are so many things going on, so many balls, receptions and dinners. It's a celebration.

I would really like to go to the swearing-in ceremony on Tuesday. We have some good indoor seats for the Inauguration Parade, and we're going to go to one of the balls. I know there will be hundreds of people there for this, that I know. I'm looking forward to it. This is something you want to say you were there to witness.

Dave Winfield, drafted by the Padres in 1973, played 22 Major League seasons and appeared in 12 All-Star Games as a player before joining the Padres' front office. Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.