New York Kirby Puckett already knows which hat he'll wear on his Hall of Fame plaque. Dave Winfield still must choose his cap for Cooperstown.
Winfield and Puckett were elected Tuesday to the shrine on their first try, becoming the seventh pair of teammates voted in by baseball writers in the same year.
"This is really, really an elite group of guys," Puckett said from the Metrodome. "From Babe Ruth to Hank Aaron, you name it. It's just unbelievable being in the company of those guys."
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.
The personable Puckett spent his entire career with the Twins and now is an executive vice president with the team.
Winfield became a star with the San Diego Padres, gained national recognition with the New York Yankees and delivered the game-winning hit in the 1992 World Series with the Toronto Blue Jays. He collected his 3,000th hit with his hometown Twins, a single that drove in Puckett.
So, which cap will Winfield pick?
"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."
Actually, Winfield is not required to choose. Catfish Hunter, who achieved success with the Yankees and Oakland, decided not to have any emblem on his Hall plaque when he was inducted in 1987.
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 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.
Winfield was listed on 435 of 515 ballots, with 387 necessary for election, and Puckett was picked on 423.
Gary Carter finished third with 64.9 percent after getting under 50 percent last year, followed by Jim Rice (57.9).
Next were Bruce Sutter (47.6) and Goose Gossage (44.3) the closers also moved upward in their bids to join Hoyt Wilhelm and Rollie Fingers as the only relievers in the Hall.
Don Mattingly received 28.2 percent as a first-year candidate. Pete Rose, off the ballot because of his permanent ban from baseball, got 15 write-in votes.
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
Next year, Ozzie Smith, Andre Dawson and Alan Trammell become rookie candidates.
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.
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 had 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, Puckett became the third-youngest player to be elected while still alive. 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.
At 6-foot-6, Winfield stood nearly a foot taller than Puckett.
"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 was born on Oct. 3, 1951, the afternoon when Bobby Thomson hit one of the most famous home runs ever, and became 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 picked baseball and, without spending a single day in the minor leagues, went on to become a 12-time All-Star and five-time Gold Glove winner.
Overall, he batted .283 with 1,833 RBIs. He played from 1973-95, and returned from back surgery that sidelined for the entire 1989 season.
Winfield, who also played for the Angels and Indians, spent his longest time with the Yankees. Over the year, he 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'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.
That hit 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.
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."