Elmhurst Pub Roundtable

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Monday, March 06, 2006

Vaya con Dios, Kirby Puckett



This is an interesting post for me to write. I was never a big Puckett fan, always thought his career was slightly (okay, drastically) overrated. But today baseball lost a true ambassador of the game, and a real on-field gentleman. Puckett passed away today after complications resulting from a stroke suffered Sunday.

I could rehash his career statistics, and they are quite meaningful. In addition to over 2,000 career hits and 10 all star appearances, Puckett won 2 titles in a twelve year career in the Twin Cities. His career was tragically cut short as a result of glaucoma developed in his right eye. But the fact is, his career was more than that. Puckett and Kent Hrbek were the cornerstones of a Twins franchise that thrived during the late 80's and early 90's. His heroics during the World Series in 1991 propelled his career into the national spotlight. I have vivid memories of watching Puckett patrol centerfield at the Metrodome making tremendous leaping catches up against the hockey style glass that graced the top of the wall. Few who watched him will forget the pudgy, shorter man that played the game the way it should be - with hustle, heart, and desire. He respected the game and made the most of what were admittedly limited abilities. I'll be the first to admit I have a soft spot for those 1987 Twins and Puckett himself, as he was the centerfielder for the first game I attended at Fenway Park.

Dave Winfield said it best, "The best that I can say about him...was that he's the most positive person I ever played with. He did something for every teammate." Ultimately he was elected to the Hall of Fame based on the potential his career still had when he was forced to retire. The highlight reels were kind to you, Kirby. I'm betting there's a spot for you in centerfield for that team in the sky.

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