In the midst of a sports world that watches as superstars and role models alike leave for greener pastures, few embody what it means to be a franchise player more than a small number of Minnesota Twins. Lifetime Twins greats include Tony Oliva, Brad Radke, and to this point in his career, Joe Mauer. This list is so exclusive, even a Twins great like Harmon Killebrew finds himself on the outside looking in.
However, when looking at that list of names, there is one major exclusion, Kirby Puckett.
Kirby was the embodiment of what baseball was meant to be, and he was exactly how the game was meant to be played. A 10 time All Star, Kirby now finds himself looking down on Target Field as the Twins are set to play host to the 85th Major League Baseball All Star Game.
Although he has the best seat in the house, and will likely be felt all around Target Field over the next few days, he was taken much to soon for him to enjoy the event with baseball fans.
I had the privilege of catching up with Kirby’s son, Kirby Puckett Jr., to talk about the 2014 Major League Baseball All Star Game. With a father who consistently had him around baseball, few will take in the 2014 All Star Game at Target Field in a more heartfelt fashion.
Puckett’s Pond: Having observed as a fan over the years, the Twins have been really good to you and your family, keeping you involved with different things throughout Twins Territory. Do they have you participating in All Star Weekend in any way?
Kirby Puckett Jr: Yes. As you know, my father’s career was cut short due to Glaucoma. He spent many years bringing awareness around the world, about the importance of early detection of many eye problems. When my father passed away, my mother, sister, and I continued his legacy by establishing the Kirby Puckett Education Center at the Phillips Eye Institute in Minneapolis.
The Phillips Eye Institute, The Minnesota Twins, MLB, The Pohlad foundation, and many more, funded the Kirby Puckett Eye Mobile. Yesterday, My mom Tonya, sister Catherine and I went to the Minneapolis Convention Center for the Unveiling of the Kirby Puckett Eye Mobile, which is a large vehicle that will travel around the Twin Cities with the capability of screening individuals inside of it.
We will do a few other things but the event that I am also very excited about is the unveiling of Kirby Puckett Place right outside of Target Field.
PP: With this season being the first year the All Star Game is back in Minnesota since 1985, and the first time at Target Field, what event are you most looking forward to?
KPJ: I am really excited to experience the Home Run Derby, but to be honest, I am looking forward to experiencing an All-Star Game in Minnesota.
PP: Your dad was one of the best outfielders to ever play the game. Having a unique blend of speed and power, is there a present day Major Leaguer that reminds you of his style of play?
KPJ: To be honest, I don’t think that there will ever be another quite like my dad, but if I to pick someone, it might be Yasiel Puig.
PP: Having likely watched plenty of Twins baseball this year, what do you think is their biggest struggle going into the second half, and what do you see as their biggest strength?
KPJ: I would have to say that the Twins could use some more consistency out of their pitchers, we MUST capitalize on RBI opportunities.
PP: With the All Star Game festivities being at Target Field, essentially a second home, what kind of performance do you expect to see from the hitters in the Home Run Derby?
KPJ: That’s a good question, the Home Run Derby is such an exciting event, I just hope to see a lot of home runs. It would be great to see one go over gate 34.
KPJ: He would probably say give it all you’ve got and have a good time doing it.
While it is no doubt that both Minnesota Twins fans, as well as baseball fans as a whole, miss Kirby Puckett and what he brought to the game; it is truly an amazing thing to watch Puckett Jr. continue his dad’s legacy and make a difference in the world.
As the Puckett’s continue to raise awareness surrounding Glaucoma, as well as carrying the Minnesota Twins flag, it is a great testament to Twins Territory to know Kirby’s love of the game has and will always live on.