Kirby Puckett Tribute Space--Open Thread
Just heard on the radio that Kirby Puckett has passed. Anyone living in Minnesota from the mid-80s to the mid-90s understands what he meant to sports fans in this town. His name, his bowling ball physique, his electric charisma, and his sublime sense of the dramatic made him a favorite of diehards and bandwagon-jumpers alike.
Puck was "cute" and it was fun to let that ride. But make no mistake: This is a guy who climbed out of the projects, whose parents both died at a young age, who knew the ways, means, and rewards of competition. You don't deliver in the clutch as often as Puckett did without an internal killer instinct, which he expertly masked with his genuine, but also convenient, cuddly persona. Since his enforced retirement due to glaucoma, unpleasant things have been alleged, admitted, and bandied about regarding his behavior, particularly toward women. It besmirched his legacy.
But it doesn't erase the memory of Puckett speeding frantically down the first-base, his little-toy legs churning beneath his barrel-round upper torso. Or the way he began to stride into a pitch before it left the hurler's hand, often swinging at offerings out of the strike zone, and often sending home baserunners while he motored around first and took second or third. Or his patented home-run stealing catches against the center-field wall, be it baggy or plexiglass, timing his leap and lifting himself higher than one would imagine that body could go. Or erupting off the dugout steps to heckle folks during batting practice, or erupting into the locker room to interrupt a card game or television-watching with some choice insults for teammates near and far, occasionally silly, more often profane, always upbeat.
What all those memories have in common is Kirby Puckett living life with gusto and glee and covering himself in glory along the way. Who wouldn't want that said about them as an obituary?
Your turn. This is a forum for any impressions you have of Puckett and what he meant to you and this area.