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Puckett, Winfield savor honor with each other

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Hall of Fame members

2001 Hall of Fame Ballot - ESPN Writers

 Up Close
Fresh off his election into the Hall of Fame, Dave Winfield joins Gary Miller on Up Close.

 I'm in!
Dave Winfield talks about being elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
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ESPN's Trey Wingo talks with Kirby Puckett about being elected into MLB Hall of Fame.
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Kirby Puckett credits his hard work for his induction to the Hall of Fame.
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Kirby Puckett recalls the one Hall of Fame moment that would best define his career.
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ESPN's Tim Kurkjian and Brian Kenny look at those who didn't make it this year.
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 The Morning Show's Jayson Stark is not surprised that only two players were elected.
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Wednesday, November 19, 2003
Puckett, Winfield elected on first ballot
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Dave Winfield and Kirby Puckett were elected Tuesday to the Hall of Fame on their first try, becoming the seventh pair of teammates picked by baseball writers in the same year.

Dave Winfield
Winfield retired following the 1995 season with 3,110 hits, 465 HR, 1,833 RBI and a .283 average.

Winfield, who had 3,110 hits and 465 home runs, and Puckett, whose All-Star career was cut short by glaucoma, played together on the Minnesota Twins in 1993-94.

In fact, Winfield's 3,000th hit drove in Puckett.

"We've already talked, and we congratulated each other," Puckett said from the Metrodome. "It will be very, very special going in with him."

While the personable Puckett spent his entire career with the Twins, the strapping Winfield played for six teams, mostly with the New York Yankees and San Diego Padres.

So, which cap will Winfield wear on his Hall plaque?

"I can't tell you because I haven't thought about it yet," he said from his home in the Los Angeles area. "I didn't want to be presumptuous.

"The hat I'm wearing is the Hall of Fame hat today," he said. "My hat's off to all the teams that gave me the opportunity to do my thing."

Winfield was listed on 84.5 percent of the ballots and Puckett was chosen on 82.1 percent in voting by 10-year members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America. It took 75 percent for election.

The outfielders brought to 36 the players elected in their first year of eligibility. There are 251 overall members in the Hall.

Gary Carter finished third with 64.9 percent, followed by Jim Rice (57.9), Bruce Sutter (47.6) and Goose Gossage (44.3). Don Mattingly received 28.2 percent as a first-year candidate.

Winfield and Puckett joined Carlton Fisk and Tony Perez (2000), Ferguson Jenkins and Gaylord Perry (1991), Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford (1974), Lefty Grove and Mickey Cochrane (1947) as sets of teammates chosen in the same year by the BBWAA.

Also, Cy Young played with both Tris Speaker and Nap Lajoie, with all of them elected in 1937, research by the Elias Sports Bureau showed.

Hall of Fame Voting
515 votes cast; 387 needed
Player Votes Pct. 2000
x-Dave Winfield 435 84.5 --
x-Kirby Puckett 423 82.1 --
Gary Carter 334 64.9 49.7
Jim Rice 298 57.9 51.5
Bruce Sutter 245 47.6 38.5
Goose Gossage 228 44.3 33.3
Steve Garvey 176 34.2 32.1
Tommy John 146 28.3 27.1
Don Mattingly 145 28.2 --
Jim Kaat 139 27.0 25.1
Bert Blyleven 121 23.5 17.4
Jack Morris 101 19.6 22.2
Dale Murphy 93 18.1 23.3
Dave Parker 84 16.3 20.8
Dave Concepcion 74 14.4 13.4
Luis Tiant 63 12.2 17.2
Keith Hernandez 41 8.0 10.4
Dave Stewart 38 7.4 --
Ron Guidry 27 5.2 8.8
y-Lou Whitaker 15 2.9 ---
y-Kirk Gibson 13 2.5 --
y-Lance Parrish 9 1.7 --
y-Tom Henke 6 1.2 --
y-Dave Righetti 2 0.3 --
y-Steve Bedrosian 1 0.2 --
y-Tom Browning 1 0.2 --
y-Ron Darling 1 0.2 --
y-Jim Deshaies 1 0.2 --
y-John Kruk 1 0.2 --
y-Jose Rijo 1 0.2 --
y-Howard Johnson 0 0.0 --
y-Andy Van Slyke 0 0.0 --
y- dropped from future consideration for failing to receive at least five percent or 26 votes.

Puckett was an All-Star in 10 of his 12 seasons and led the Twins to unlikely World Series titles in 1987 and 1991.

A career .318 hitter, he got 2,040 hits from his major league debut on May 8, 1984, through May 7, 1994 -- the most for any 20th-century player in his first 10 calendar years.

At 40 and now a Twins executive, Puckett became the third-youngest player to be elected while living. Only Lou Gehrig (36) and Sandy Koufax (37) made it sooner.

"I was at the top of my game when I was forced to retire," he said. "I think you could put my numbers over 12 years up with anybody and they'd be comparable," he said.

Winfield, at 6-foot-6 about a foot taller than Puckett, joined Minnesota late in his career.

"The best thing I can say about him -- and I played with a lot of guys -- was that he's the most positive person I played with on a daily basis," Winfield said. "He did something for every teammate."

Winfield, 49, was listed on 435 of 515 ballots, with 387 necessary for election, and Puckett was picked on 423.

Of the 32 candidates, 13 received under 5 percent and were dropped from further consideration. Among them: Detroit teammates Lou Whitaker, Kirk Gibson and Lance Parrish, along with Tom Henke and Dave Righetti.

Induction ceremonies will be held Aug. 5 at Cooperstown, N.Y. The festivities will include anyone selected by the Veterans Committee on March 6 at Tampa, Fla.

Winfield seemed destined for stardom from the day he was born -- Oct. 3, 1951, the afternoon when Bobby Thomson hit one of the most famous home runs ever.

A multisport standout at the University of Minnesota, Winfield was drafted by the Padres, the Minnesota Vikings of the NFL, the Atlanta Hawks of the NBA and the Utah Stars of the ABA.

He chose baseball, and without spending a single day in the minor leagues, went on to become a 12-time All-Star. He won five Gold Gloves in the outfield.

Overall, he batted .283 with 1,833 RBI. He played from 1973 to 1995, and returned from back surgery that sidelined for the entire 1989 season.

Winfield's toughest choice will be deciding which cap will appear on his plaque -- he became a star with the Padres, gained national recognition with the Yankees, delivered the game-winning hit in the 1992 World Series with the Toronto Blue Jays and got his 3,000th hit with his hometown Twins.

Winfield, who also played for the Angels and Indians, spent his longest time with the Yankees. And he has patched up his long-running feud with owner George Steinbrenner, the man who labeled him "Mr. May."

Much of the criticism Winfield heard in New York, he said, "doesn't really reflect the kind of player I was, the kind of person I was."

Winfield is among 24 players with 3,000 hits. He reached the mark in 1993 with an RBI single off Dennis Eckersley that scored Puckett.

Every eligible player to hit that milestone has made the Hall. Once again, Pete Rose is off the ballot because of his permanent banishment from baseball.

Still, it was a hit that does not show up in Winfield's career total that meant the most to him. And no, it was not the time he hit a seagull with a warmup throw in Toronto in 1983, leading to his arrest.

Winfield's two-out, two-run double in the top of the 11th inning in Game 6 of the 1992 World Series clinched Toronto's championship over Atlanta. It was his only extra-base hit in 44 Series at-bats.

"It was just a lousy double," he recalled years later. "That hit, it just made everything right."

That double came off Braves reliever Charlie Leibrandt. In 1991, Leibrandt also served up Puckett's most famous hit -- an 11th-inning home run that won Game 6 of the World Series. The Twins won the title the next day.

Puckett won six Gold Gloves in center field and hit 207 home runs.

Plus, he exuded boundless energy and enthusiasm, making him a fan favorite at the Metrodome and everywhere else.

"I played every game like it was my last," Puckett said. "I left everything on the field."

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