This archived article was written by: Robert Hanson
The game of baseball lost an amazing ball player and a great man on Monday March 6th. The previous Sunday morning, Kirby Puckett suffered a stroke in his home in Arizona, was rushed to the hospital for an emergency surgery to relieve the pressure and bleeding. And on Monday morning the Hall of Famer passed away in the care of ST. Joseph’s hospital.
Drafted by the Minnesota Twins in 1984, Puckett rose to be the best the team had ever fielded, leading them to Two World Series Titles in 1987 and 1991, hitting a the game winning home run in the eleventh inning of game six of the ’91 series to force game seven against the Atlanta Braves.
Puckett brought an energetic way of play and an infectious smile to the Minnesota club, despite his 5-8 and somewhat stocky frame he was known to fly into fences stealing home-run after home-run from opposing players, then at the plate, would answer with home-runs being belted off his mightily swung bat.
Though out his career Puckett said he would play every game as if it was his last. And then one day his All-star Career was cut short as he woke up on March 28, 1996 and couldn’t see out of his right eye, due to glaucoma. After three laser eye surgeries, it was clear that Puckett would not be able to continue play. He retired on July 12, 1996, and stayed on the organization for the next five years as an executive vice president in an ambassador’s role.
Wearing his num. #34 jersey and a pair of sunglasses to cover the gauze, he addressed the crowd and fans everywhere stating, “It’s the last time you’re going to see Kirby Puckett in a Twins uniform.” and proceeded to say, “I want to tell you all that I love you all so much.” He also addressed his team saying, “I want my young teammates to know right now — when you put the uniform on, you put it on and you play with pride and integrity. The way that Kent Hrbek plays with it — played with it. And Paul Molitor and Knobby [Chuck Knoblauch] and all you guys play with it. Just don’t take it for granted because you never know. Tomorrow is not promised to any of us.”
His career was by far worthy of the ultimate honor of induction to the hall of fame, which he received along with Dave Winfield as the class of 2001. Kirby’s ended his career with 2,304 hits, 10 all-star game appearances, and six gold glove awards.
Puckett would have turned 46 on March 14, so if you will take a break from your busy schedule and give a short moment of silence for this terrific man it would be deeply appreciated. Kirby Puckett will be missed dearly by his fans.