Monday, March 6th, 2006
9:35 pm - Kirby Puckett, R.I.P.  
Kirby Puckett may have been the most popular man in baseball in the late eighties and early nineties. He proved that one doesn't have to be tall and lithe to be an athlete. He was short, roly-poly, and funny looking, but he played the game brilliantly. He was always enthusiastic and jovial, and seemed to take great joy in playing. That made it all the sadder when glaucoma (the result of a pitch that hit him in the head) destroyed the sight in his right eye, forcing him to retire at age 35. Five years later, he was elected to the Hall of Fame on his first try.

Apparently he wasn't able to handle the end of his baseball life as well as he'd played the game. His reputation became tarnished in later years as stories of infidelity, alleged sexual assault, and bizarre hehavior began coming out. People who'd admired his skill and joie de vivre, as I did, stopped paying attention.

Puckett had a massive stroke over the weekend, and died today. He was only 45. It's such a shame. He was a joy to watch.

eta: There's a great post by Batgirl about Kirby here.
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Hecubothecubot on March 7th, 2006 - 05:53 pm
Twins/Braves was the best World Series I ever saw. (Yeah, better than Red Sox/Reds.) And Kirby rose and rose and rose to the call in that series. It was one of the most dominating post-season performances I'd seen - up there with Brooks Robinson's MVP and Ricky Henderson single-handedly
dismantling the Blue Jays.

He wasn't just popular with the fans - other baseball players loved him too. From '87 through '91 the A's and Twins were in the same division and they split all the American League Pennants between them during that stretch, winning three WS. Every year it came down to one key series between the Twins and A's and whoever took that went on to win. When the A's beat the Twins in '88, I knew they'd go the series that year.

More than anything I'll remember Kirby's hitting stroke. The pure timing and quick snap of his bat, fast enough to drive the ball, but also able stay back on the breaking stuff. What a hitter.
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DXMachinadxmachina on March 7th, 2006 - 06:08 pm
Actually, I agree with you about Twins/Braves being the best World Series. Jack Morris was the MFM in game 7.
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Hecubothecubot on March 7th, 2006 - 07:01 pm
Morris was totally the MFM. In fact, all aspiring MFM's need to check their resolve against a tape of that game before they even submit their claim.

Poor Smoltz. You pich 9 shutout innings in Game 7 of the World Series and you should get something for it.
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