Monday, March 06, 2006

Twins: Remembering #34 Kirby Puckett

Photographs By Niki Paton / Baseball Notions

"Baseball doesn't owe me a thing. I owe my whole life to baseball." -Kirby Puckett

SAINT PAUL, Minn.- Twelve year veteran Minnesota Twin and Hall of Fame Legend Kirby Puckett, elected to the Hall of Fame by Baseball Writers in 2001, died today at the age of 45 after suffering a stroke in his Scottsdale, Arizona home over this past weekend.

Growing up in Minnesota some of my best memories involved celebrating two Minnesota Twins World Series wins in 1987 and 1991. Both times Puckett and his fellow teammates did the unbelievable for Minnesota and Twins fans everywhere.

I remember the elation felt throughout Twins territory in Minnesota when the Twins won the 1987 World Series at the Metrodome.(pictured right) The next day was better than a snow day when I woke up and found out my mom would be taking my brother and I out of school early for a drive into downtown Saint Paul for the Twins World Series celebration. My mom came to pick us and a few of our friends up while practically half the school had the green light to leave and attend the celebration.

When we arrived there were at least a 1,000 people gathered at the bottom of the Capitol steps to celebrate the 87' series win. When Puckett and the Twins stood at the top of the steps the crowd cheered and applauded so much the team and the governor could hardly get a word in edge wise. I remember the awe and admiration I felt to be part of such incredible history, Homer Hankie and all.

The next unbelievable celebration occurred when the Twins won the series in 1991. A group of my friends and I were center stage for the parade in Downtown Saint Paul. This time the celebration was even larger as the Twins drove around in convertibles in the crisp Minnesota October air.

We danced and jumped around in the street trying to keep warm as the caravan of convertibles and police escorts traveled along. We were close enough to reach out and shake Puckett'’s hand as he and his wife drove by in fur coats waving feverishly to crazed fans.

My friends and I screamed and cheered so much we could barely talk for two days afterwards but never forgot the 1991 celebration and an incredible baseball team with players who made baseball dreams come true.

Of all the poignant things to celebrate about Puckett's life were his devotion to his family, friends, teammates, Minnesota Twins fans and fans of baseball everywhere. Puckett was someone who had his own path and struggles in life while along the way still managed to touch the hearts of all who met him.

Prior to his death Puckett chose to be an organ donor. With this choice he may not only be a hero in life but also in death.

*The baseball shown in the above photographs is a mass printed sovenir featuring autographs from Kirby Puckett and the 1987 World Series Champion Minnesota Twins.


Anonymous said...

Puckett was a great Twin and ball player, he'll be missed.

Gary Wood said...

We need more athletes with Kirby's attitude toward their sport. I loved watching him play.