Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Minnesota Twins legend Kirby Puckett Dies

Kirby Puckett, a Minnesota Twins legend, is dead after suffering a stroke. He was 45. Puckett died at a Phoenix hospital after surgery Sunday to try and repair damage done by the stroke. Kirby Puckett made a real impression on Minnesota fans, starting with four hits in his first game as a Twin. Over the next 12 years Puckett was a one man-highlight reel, hitting homeruns, and stealing them from opponents.
Kirby Puckett
A lifelong dream come true for this kid from the Chicago projects. Puckett told fans that he had wanted to play baseball ever since he was 5-years-old; but he did much more than play, Puckett succeeded in nearly every way possible, breaking records and winning two world championships. Many find it hard to forget that clutch homerun in the 10th inning of Game Six of 1991 World Series. Puckett's play on the field made him a fan favorite; his treatment of fans off the field clinched it. He always seemed to find time to sign an autograph, and plenty of fans wanted them. But even Puckett couldn't overcome what would hit him in 1996; retina damage stole sight from his right eye, forcing him to retire early. But even as fans, friends and family were overcome with emotion, Puckett kept his calm telling them, "It's going to be alright. Kirby Puckett's going to be all right. Don't worry about me."
Just five years later, the first year he was eligible, writers voted Puckett into Baseball's Hall of Fame in 2001. But it was a year after the honor that Puckett suffered a very public slide. Puckett's and his wife divorced and accusations surfaced that he assaulted a woman in a restaurant bathroom; a jury found him not guilty. For true Twins fans though, this is the Kirby Puckett to remember. The hero of two World Series, a player always willing to spend times with fans, and a guy who really seemed to enjoy every minute of it.