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Tuesday, March 6
Updated: April 4, 9:47 AM ET
Vets elect Mazeroski, Negro leaguer Smith
TAMPA, Fla. Bill Mazeroski, who hit one of baseball's most famous home runs, was elected to the Hall of Fame on Tuesday by the Veterans Committee, along with former Negro leagues player Hilton Smith.
Dick Williams, Gil Hodges, Dom DiMaggio and Marvin Miller were bypassed by the panel, down to 14 members because of Ted Williams' recent open-heart surgery. It took 75 percent 11 votes for election.
"I'm pretty happy," said Mazeroski, who was at the site of the committee's meeting. "I don't really know what to say. I never, ever expected to be here. You dream of a lot of things. You want to be in the big leagues. You want to make the All-Star Game. You want to be in a World Series.
"You want to do all those things, but you never dream of this. It's pretty exciting. I just hope I can live up to it."
Induction ceremonies will be held Aug. 5 at Cooperstown, N.Y. Kirby Puckett and Dave Winfield were elected in January by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.
The Vets were allowed to pick up to four new Hall of Famers, one from each of four categories: former major leaguers, Negro leaguers, 19th-century players and personnel, plus a composite of managers, umpires, executives and Negro leaguers.
In 1992, Mazeroski's last year on the BBWAA ballot, he was listed on 182 of 430 ballots, 42.3 percent. A player needed 323 votes for election that year.
Mazeroski's homer at Forbes Field won Game 7 of the 1960 World Series for the Pittsburgh Pirates against the New York Yankees.
"I don't really think of it unless somebody talks about it, and hardly a day goes by when somebody doesn't talk about it," Mazeroski said. "The New York people are still mad at me."
He came within one vote of election last year, when, for the first time since 1993, the Vets did not select a former major leaguer.
Mazeroski, 64, was a .260 hitter. He was a seven-time All-Star and won eight Gold Gloves for the Pirates. He took part in a record 1,706 double plays at second base, and many consider him the finest fielder ever at the position.
"He's so deserving," former Pirates general manager Joe Brown said. "In my personal opinion, he should have been elected the first time he was eligible. He's the best second baseman of all time. I don't think anybody came close. I've seen second basemen all the way back to the early '30s and defensively I know of no one who is his equal."
Smith, a teammate of Satchel Paige on the Kansas City Monarchs, died in 1983. He was 72-32 in 146 games from 1937-48. His best season was 1941, when he went 10-0.
Brown, who is a member of the Veterans Committee, originally announced the inductee as Milton Smith, who played in the Negro leagues from 1949-51 and spent one season with the Cincinnati Reds.
Williams hoped to follow Sparky Anderson, Tommy Lasorda and Earl Weaver, managers recently elected by the Veterans' panel.
Williams won two titles with Oakland and also took Boston and San Diego to the World Series, joining Bill McKechnie as the only manager to do it with three teams.
Williams' career record was 1,571-1,451, including stints with California, Montreal and Seattle.
"Not to take anything away from Sparky, Tommy and Earl, but I think my numbers rank right up there with them," he said before the vote.
Among those on the Vets panel is John McHale, the Montreal executive who fired Williams in 1981.
Williams seemed to have enough support last year leading up to the election. But about six weeks before the vote, he was charged with walking naked outside his hotel room in Fort Myers, Fla.
Williams spent the night in jail, and the bad publicity doomed his chances. A special adviser to the Yankees, he stayed away from their camp.
This spring, though, the 71-year-old Williams was back in town.
Hodges starred at first base for the Brooklyn Dodgers, hitting 370 home runs, and managed the 1969 Miracle Mets to the World Series title.
DiMaggio, the younger brother of the late Joe DiMaggio, hit .298 in 11 seasons. He played in the Boston outfield with Ted Williams.
Miller was hired as executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association on March 5, 1966, and led a revolution that ended the reserve clause and created free agency and salary arbitration, raising the average salary of major leaguers from $19,000 in 1967 to more than $2 million this year.