Eight seasons in the Minnesota farm system paid off for Gary Ward when he was named AL Rookie of the Year by Baseball Digest in 1981 and followed as Twins Player of the Year and Most Improved Player in 1982. In 1983 he led all outfielders with 24 assists, the most for an AL outfielder since 1944.
Ward started slowly with Texas in 1984 but came on to set a club record with seven triples and a personal high with 97 runs scored. He led the Rangers in batting in 1985 and 1986, then signed with the Yankees as a free agent. A clutch hitter who was best when hitting to all fields, Ward had a great first half in 1987 but slumped badly upon trying to pull everything. He never reclaimed his spray-to-all-fields mentality, failing to crack the .260 mark the rest of his career.