Kirby Puckett and Dave Winfield along with Veterans Committee selections Bill Mazeroski and Hilton Smith were enshrined on August 5, 2001. Approximately 20,000 fans and 40 of the living Hall of Famers attended the ceremony at Clark Sports Center, where Los Angeles writer Ross Newhan received the J.G. Taylor Spink award for meritorious contributions to baseball writing and the Ford C. Frick award for broadcast excellence went to Felo Ramirez, longtime Spanish language broadcaster.
KIRBY PUCKETT: Named on 82.1 percent of ballots cast in his first year of eligibility, Puckett played his entire 12-year career with the Minnesota Twins. He was the third overall pick in the 1982 draft, reaching the big leagues two years later to finish third in the American League Rookie of the Year voting after hitting .296. Puckett, a 10-time All-Star, won six Gold Glove Awards and six Silver Sluggers, leading the AL in hits four times and in batting average when he hit .339 in 1989. A leader on Minnesota’s 1987 and 1991 championship teams, Puckett’s career ended prematurely after the 1995 season due to irreversible retina damage in his right eye. He hit .318 for his career, the highest career average for a right-handed hitter since Joe DiMaggio, to go with 207 home runs and 1,085 RBI.
DAVE WINFIELD: A first ballot Hall of Famer who was named on 84.5 percent of the ballots cast, Winfield was drafted by the San Diego Padres, the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks, the ABA’s Utah Stars and the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings out of the University of Minnesota. After picking San Diego, Winfield played 22 seasons for the Padres, New York Yankees, California Angels, Toronto Blue Jays, Minnesota Twins and Cleveland Indians, earning 12 All-Star selections, seven Gold Glove Awards and six Silver Sluggers. He helped Toronto to its first World Series title in 1992 and finished his career hitting .283 with 465 home runs, 1833 RBI and 223 stolen bases.
BILL MAZEROSKI: Elected by the Veterans Committee, Mazeroski delivered a tearful speech that stole the show at the 2001 induction ceremony. Playing 17 big league seasons for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Mazeroski became the first player to end a World Series with a home run, going deep in the bottom of the ninth against the New York Yankees in Game 7 of the 1960 World Series. A career .260 hitter, Mazeroski became one of the best defensive second baseman in history with a .983 fielding percentage and eight Gold Glove Awards. He was an All-Star ten times and finished his career with 2,016 hits and 138 home runs.
HILTON SMITH: Smith spent most of his career with the Kansas City Monarchs and is credited with winning 20 or more games in each of his 12 seasons with the team, including an imposing record of 93-11 from 1939-42. The quiet Smith, who was elected by the Veterans Committee, often followed Satchel Paige in long relief with an assortment of pitches, highlighted by a sweeping curveball and a devastating fastball. Smith played in six consecutive East-West All-Star Games from 1937-42 and was a member of seven Monarch pennant-winners.