Monday, March 06, 2006

Goodbye, Kirby

It's hard to overstate Kirby Puckett's impact on any baseball-loving man born in Minnesota and many parts of the Upper Midwest between 1978 and 1983, but here goes: Puckett was Christ-like to this group.

He was as cool as Darkwing Duck, a neverending pizza party and a cute girl who'd hold your hand at recess all wrapped up in one.
He had a really weird staccato speech pattern, cool facial hair and always seemed to be having fun.
He was so cool that McDonalds sold something called the "Puck Pack" for a sort while that included, and my details might be a little blurred, a quadruple cheese burger, two pounds of fries, a 5-gallon pail of Coke and a fudge sundae.
He was so cool that some four years after his early retirement because of glaucoma, he made 19,000 Timberwolves fans at the Target Center lose their minds cheering just by taking off his hat and waving to the crowd.
He was short, kind of chubby and had little legs, so he stuck out among other baseball players. But what he lacked in speed he made up for in effort and sheer determination.
He single-handedly won the World Series for the Twins in 1991 (arguably the greatest series ever; sorry Red Sox fans) by hitting a dinger and stealing a homerun that was sailing into the Dome's outfield, but he never seemed to gloat about it.
He fulfilled all Minnesotans' untold fantasy by being in outsider (he grew up in Chicago) who went to Minnesota and never left.

Every game he'd stand in the batter's box clutching a piece of wood that looked gigantic at the top and was like a toothpick at the bottom and take his cuts. He'd get his undersized legs moving around the bases if he got a hit, or if he was chasing a ball in centerfield. You couldn't take your eyes off him, and you couldn't control yourself or cheer loud enough when Bob Casey announced his name over the Metrodome's PA: "Kirrrbbyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy Puckett!!!!"

Kirby was my hero because he was a good player, and, more importantly, because I knew he'd never leave my team. And that used to count for something. Teams and loyalty. He understood that. He didn't chase more money, even though I'm sure he could've. He didn't demand to be traded. He didn't try to negotiate his contract by using the press. Kirby just played ball.

Rest in peace, number 34.


At 10:01 AM, Blogger Kristina said...

You really should get your Kirby reflections published somewhere besides on your blog. Just a thought.

At 3:11 PM, Blogger Libby said...

Long live Kirby, nice reflections. (ps, this is Margo, signed in as Libby)

At 7:42 PM, Blogger Brianna said...

sad fucking day. tragic. i liked what you wrote, friend.


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