Thursday, December 22, 2011

DAHOF Top 100 -- #81 Kirby Puckett

From Kirby Puckett's obituary in the Minneapolis StarTribune in March of 2006:

On the day Kirby Puckett retired from baseball, he tried reassuring everyone that the sadness of losing sight in his right eye wouldn't diminish the spirit fans had seen him show for 12 seasons in a Twins uniform.

"Kirby Puckett's going to be all right," he said in 1996. "Don't worry about me. I'll show up, and I'll have a smile on my face. The only thing I won't have is this uniform on. But you guys can have the memories of what I did when I did have it on."

For anyone that watched Kirby Puckett for more than a couple of seconds, it was clear that he absolutely loved to play baseball. He was the foundation of the Minnesota Twins and won two World Series rings in his 12 Hall of Fame seasons. Considered by many as the greatest player in franchise history, Puckett retired as the Twins' all-time leader in hits (2,304), doubles (414), total bases (3,453), at-bats (7,244) and runs (1,071).

Like most, my most vivid memory of Kirby came in the 1991 World Series. Facing elimination in Game 6 against the Braves, Puckett collected three hits, three RBIs and scored two runs and made a memorable leaping catch against the left center field wall. Then, in the 11th inning, Kirby became the ninth player in major league history to end a World Series game with a walk off home run, hitting a changeup from Charlie Leibrandt over the wall and pumping his arms in celebration as he rounded the bases.

He was a first ballot Hall of Famer in 2001.


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