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Puckett and Winfield make it into the Baseball Hall of Fame

Tuesday, January 16, 2001

Tuesday the baseball writers announced their choices to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on August 5. Though the writers had many qualified candidates to choose from, they chose only Kirby Puckett and Dave Winfield.  This was the first year that they were eligible for a Baseball Hall of Fame selection.  Since Puckett and Winfield played for the Minnesota Twins from 1993 to 1994, it will mark the seventh time that teammates will be inducted at the same time.

Kirby Puckett spent his entire twelve-year career with the Minnesota Twins.  After playing 224 minor league games, he debuted May 8, 1984, at California, and he became the ninth major leaguer to collect four hits in his major league nine-inning debut.  At the end of 1984 he led the American League in outfield assists with sixteen, led the Twins with 49 multihit games, and finished third in the American League’s Rookie of the Year voting.  He greatly contributed to the Twins’ world championships in 1987 and 1991. Puckett is the only Twin to have a .300 batting average, have 200 hits, score 100 runs, and collect 100 RBI twice in his career.  In his first ten years he had 2,040 hits becoming the first player to collect that many hits in the twentieth century.  He is the Twin leader in hits (2,304), doubles (414), total bases (3,543), at-bats (7,244), and runs (1,071).  Puckett was a six-time Gold Glove winner.   Because his unsinkable enthusiasm made him a fan favorite, he went to ten All-Star games. In the  spring of 1996 Puckett was forced to retire because he developed blindness caused by glaucoma.

Dave Winfield played for many teams during his incredible 22-year career.  His six-foot-six-inch frame presented a scary presence at home plate for pitchers.  Since he was a natural athlete, he could have chosen to play professional football, basketball, and baseball.  After being named Most Valuable Player of the 1973 College World Series for the University of Minnesota, Winfield signed with the San Diego Padres and bypassed the minor leagues.  In 56 games he hit .273.  He became an offensive and defensive force with the Padres until 1980.  As a free agent, he signed a lucrative ten-year contract with the New York Yankees.  While in New York, he produced but was criticized for not leading them to a world championship.  The Yankees traded him to the California Angels in 1990 after Winfield missed  the entire of 1989 season with back surgery.  In 1992 he signed with the Toronto Blue Jays and played an important role in their world championship in 1992.  After playing for the Twins, he finished his career with the Cleveland Indians.  He won seven Gold Gloves.  His career statistics are remarkable with a .283 batting average, 3,110 hits, 465 home runs, and 1,833 RBI.

Though Puckett and Winfield were different types of players, they both deserve to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

© Sarah D. Morris

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