The Minnesota Twins and their fans always pause briefly now on March 14th. That is to remember one of the best to wear the uniform, Kirby Puckett.
The Minnesota Twins have quite the history of great players who have put on the uniform. Twins fans have had the privilege of cheering on the likes of Harmon Killebrew, Rod Carew, Tony Oliva, Kent Hrbek, and many others. It may be safe to say no Twins player ever grabbed the hearts of fans quite like Kirby Puckett did.
It was on March 14, 1960 in Chicago, IL that the world was introduced to Puckett. He would have turned 58 this year. And though his years on this earth were cut short, the memories are plentiful of No. 34. The Twins drafted Puckett 3rd overall in the 1982 MLB Draft. When Puckett made his debut with the Twins in 1984 his smile and his play immediately grabbed the attention of fans as he slashed .296/.320/.336.
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Puckett was able to just play baseball in ways very few players could. He could hit balls no matter where they crossed the plate. Then in the field, Puckett manned center field and scaled the wall to rob batters of extra-base hits and home runs. As he did all those things on the baseball field, he earned the respect of his teammates. If you ever listen to one of his former teammates talk about him you can hear that respect and love for him in their voice.
Over Puckett’s career, he slashed .318/.360/.477 and A .837 OPS. He also added 2,304 hits, 207 home runs, 414 doubles, and 1,085 RBIs. Puckett was also a 10-time All-Star, six-time Gold Glove award winner, six-time Silver Slugger award, was the 1989 batting champion, and is all a member of the Hall of Fame.
Puckett was one of the seven players that were with the Twins for both World Series championships. He was also a huge part of those teams and in playoff games, Puckett hit .309/.361/.536, 5 home runs, and drove in 15 RBIs. Puckett was also the MVP of the 1991 ALCS. and added plenty of highlight reel plays from in those two World Series runs.
It is still a shame that Puckett wasn’t able to leave the game on his own terms. Puckett the baseball player was an incredible person to watch play a game so many of us love. That is the Puckett we look to remember today. It is why we love to remember “Touch ‘Em All, Kirby Puckett!”