Kirby Lee-US PRESSWIRE 8/19/11
The 1991 World Series was named the #1 Fall Classic of all time by ESPN. Relive the memories this postseason by celebrating the anniversary of the ’91 World Series games.
"I told the guys, I said, ‘Jump on, I’m gonna carry us today.’ And they musta jumped on. And I delivered. -Kirby Puckett"
It’s impossible for me to remember Game 6 without nostalgia. I was nine years old. Game 7 is the only game I actually remember watching in real time, but the memories of Kirby Puckett in Game 6 are the first things that come to mind when I think of the Minnesota Twins of my childhood. I remember that leaping grab. And that eleventh inning homerun trot is etched in my memory, probably from the many, many replays over the years. But I’m getting ahead of myself…
The Twins returned home after Game 5, happy to leave the city of Atlanta and return home to the Metrodome. They took an early lead in the first when Puckett tripled home Chuck Knoblauch and Shane Mack hit a single that scored Puckett, giving the Twins a 2-0 lead. Twins starter Scott Erickson cruised through the first four innings, helped in no small part by Puckett’s third inning leaping grab that Radio announcer John Gordan called “the defensive play of the series”. However, Erickson hit a snag when the Atlanta Braves came up to bat in the top of the fifth. Erickson allowed a game-tying two-run homer off the bat of Terry Pendleton. But, Twins centerfielder Puckett came through with a sacrifice fly in the bottom half of the inning that put the Twins ahead once again, 3-2.
The Braves tied the game up in the top of the seventh, and the game went into extra innings. The Braves entered the bottom of the eleventh inning by sending in a starting pitcher as a reliever. Charlie Leibrandt took the mound while Puckett prepared to walk to the plate. Chili Davis, the next scheduled batter, was waiting in the on-deck circle. Puckett and Davis had one of the most fateful conversations in World Series history. They retell the story on the video “Magic in Minnesota“, which recounts the Twins 1991 World Series Victory.
Puckett did not think he would get anything he could hit off of Leibrandt, but he was sure he could bunt for a hit. He told Davis as much, and Davis recounted his reaction:
"I said this is Kirby Puckett, we’re here in Minnesota, the opportunity to be the hero, and he IS the hero. So, I went up to him and I said ‘Puck, I gotta better game plan.’"
As Puckett explained on “Magic in Minnesota”, Davis did not want to see Puckett bunt. Instead, Puckett recalled Davis’s words:
"‘Bunt! Bunt my “you know what”? You get a change-up, a good hanging change-up, hit it out, let’s go home.’ And I said ‘Okay, I’ll do that.’"
Puckett’s at bat inspired one of the most memorable calls of all time, Jack Buck’s famous “We’ll see you tomorrow night!” as Puckett’s bomb sailed over the plexiglas and his homerun trot became an instant legend. Watch the video. No matter how many times you see it, it will send chills down your spine.
The finish was fit for a victory, but it was only Game 6. The Twins needed one more win to be the World Champions, and Game 7 was do-or-die for both teams. It lived up to the hype.
"And it’s a storybook World Series. What’s gonna happen tomorrow in Game 7, chapter 7, oh my God, I can’t wait. It’s gonna be something. Can you imagine this? Goin’ on like this? Unbelievable. -Tom Kelly"
Check back at lunchtime on Saturday for a Game 7 recap, as the Twins taste victory again.