Hey folks, Denton here. I know we meet here every day, have a few laughs, throw some Yankee-hate around, then go stumbling back into whatever passes for our real lives. Today is different, friends. Today we say goodbye to one of baseball’s good guys. Kirby Puckett died Monday, just one day after suffering a stroke.
Puckett helped the Twins earn World Series titles in 1987 and 1991. In game 6 of the ’91 Series, Puckett made a great leaping catch against the wall and later hit the game-winning homerun in the 11th inning. Jack Morris outdueled John Smoltz in game 7, pitching 10 innings in a 1-0 win. Puckett finished his career with a .318 batting average, six Gold Gloves and 10 All-Star appearances.
Sadly, his career was cut short by Glaucoma-induced blindness in his right eye, forcing him to retire in 1995. Kent Hrbek said “That’s what really hurt him bad, when he was forced out of the game. I don’t know if he ever recovered from it.” Puckett, always chubby, gained excessive weight after retiring and in 2003 was accused, but later cleared, of groping a woman in a suburban restaurant.
The Kirby Puckett I choose to remember is the man who was always smiling, playing his heart out, and loving baseball. It is the man who said at his 2001 first-ballot Hall of Fame speech “I’m telling you, anything is possible.” His career itself is proof of that statement.
His Hall of Fame plaque reads;
MINNESOTA, A.L., 1984-1995
A PROVEN TEAM LEADER WITH AN EVER-PRESENT SMILE AND
INFECTIOUS EXUBERANCE WHO LED THE TWINS TO WORLD SERIES
TITLES IN 1987 AND 1991. OVER 12 SEASONS HIT FOR POWER AND
AVERAGE, BATTING .318 WITH 414 DOUBLES AND 207 HOME RUNS. ALSO
A PROLIFIC RUN PRODUCER, SCORED 1,071 RUNS AND DROVE IN 1,085 IN
1,783 GAMES. A SIX-TIME GOLD GLOVE WINNER WHO PATROLLED
CENTER FIELD WITH ELEGANCE AND STYLE, ROUTINELY SCALING
OUTFIELD WALLS TO TAKE AWAY HOME RUNS. THE 10-TIME
ALL-STAR’S CAREER ENDED ABRUPTLY DUE TO IRREVERSIBLE RETINAL
DAMAGE IN HIS RIGHT EYE.