Since baseball became America's pastime throughout the 20th century, there have been many players that have become heroes for their respected teams. The Twins of course have a few that fit the bill. Some are local boys, some come from far away. But one in particular stands out more than all the others. Most of us just knew him as just "Puck."
A week ago today marked the 3-year anniversary of Kirby Puckett's death. This weekend is Puckett's (would be) birthday weekend. But still today, Puck's legacy remains as the greatest player to put on a Twins uniform.
When Puck was playing, it was hard not to notice the effort and joy he brought to the field every game. Puck played the game that everyone did in Little League. He played with a huge smile on his face and always gave it his all. That's the way the game should be played. His energy and confidence was something players only wish they had.
Despite playing at just 5-feet, 9-inches Puck accomplished more things than players that were even half-a-foot taller than him could ever imagine. What Puck lacked in physical size, he made up for in effort and heart. He was a 10-time All-Star, 6-time Gold Glove Winner and most importantly, he was apart 2 World Series Champion teams.
The thing that most Twins fans will remember him were his heroics in Game 6 of the 1991 World Series. Puck made a catch against the Metrodome Plexiglas that no human - at his size - should be able to make. Later in the 11th inning, he hit a walk-off home run to tie up the series and send the game to a sudden death game seven. While rounding the bases, Puck pumped his fists in triumph which to many is the image they'll always remember when they think of Kirby Puckett.
Puck brought so much pleasure to those that got to watch him play. Much like his life, his career was cut short by glaucoma at the age of 35-years-old. But even when he found out that he'd never step to the plate to deliver another game-winning home run again, Puck was still upbeat and told us that there were other things in this world that we should feel sorry for, and he wasn't one of them. The selflessness Puck carried with him throughout his playing days is something that is sadly very uncommon in sports and just another reason why Puck will always be that special player that Twins fans will remember.
"There are a lot of great players in this game, but only one Kirby" - Former Twins Pitcher, Rick Aguilera
This can also be read at BaseballDigest.com. While you're there, make sure to check out the Twins Page.