Twins Teammates Reunited in Cooperstown

Part of the INSIDE PITCH series
Written by: Isabelle Minasian

A pair of teammates were united once again when Dave Winfield and Kirby Puckett, both members of the 1993-94 Minnesota Twins, were elected to the Hall of Fame on Jan. 16, 2001 in their first year on the ballot.

It was the seventh time that Baseball Writers’ Association of America writers elected two teammates to be inducted into the Hall in the same year.

“I came from nothing, and here I am…This is one of the proudest days of my life,” Puckett told the Star Tribune.

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Though Winfield and Puckett overlapped for just a fraction of their illustrious careers, they are intertwined together in history. Winfield’s 3,000th hit was an RBI single in the ninth inning on Sept. 16, 1993, that drove in Puckett – off of fellow Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley.

Both men were also each drafted in the first round of the amateur draft, with Winfield drafted by the San Diego Padres as the fourth overall pick in 1973 and Puckett drafted third overall by the Twins in 1982. Winfield still holds the distinction of being one of three men to be drafted by four teams in three professional sports.

A former University of Minnesota basketball and baseball star, Winfield jumped straight to the majors after being drafted. He became the ninth Hall of Famer to spend his entire professional career in the major leagues, and the first since Catfish Hunter was elected in 1987.

Winfield played for six different teams over 22 years: the Padres, New York Yankees, California Angels, Toronto Blue Jays, Twins and Cleveland Indians.

During that time he was awarded seven Gold Glove Awards and was a 12-time All Star. He finished his career with 3,110 hits, 465 home runs and 1,833 RBI, including a game-winning, two-out double to clinch the Blue Jays’ 1992 World Series title.

In July of 2001, during his induction speech, Winfield explained, “I’ve had a complete career. I gave everything I had to baseball, and baseball has given back to me today.”

Puckett’s career was cut short due to irreversible retina damage to his right eye, but he made the most of his 12 years in the bigs.

He had four hits in his 1984 major league debut, finished third in Rookie of the Year voting, and went on to tally 2,304 total hits over his career – the second player in history to record over 2,000 hits in his first 10 years.

He played with the Twins for the entirety of his professional career, and won World Series titles with them in 1987 and 1991.

Puckett finished with a career .318 batting average, 207 home runs and 1,085 RBI in 1,783 games.

“I played every day like it may have been my last,” Puckett told the Associated Press. “I think I was one of the few guys who can say I left all my blood, sweat and tears on the field.”

Isabelle Minasian is the digital content specialist at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

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Part of the INSIDE PITCH series