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Baseball says adieu to Puckett

Published: March 10, 2006
Section: Sports


Hall of Famer Kirby Puckett died late last Monday after suffering a stroke the previous day. Puckett was the third overall pick in the 1982 draft by the Minnesota Twins. Two years later, his major league career began. Thus started a career of a man that touched the hearts of everybody he met.

His twelve year career was stellar. He batted .318 and hit 207 home runs. He was a ten-time all-star and won six gold glove awards in the outfield. He was also a part of the Minnesota teams that won the World Series in 1987 and 1991. He retired in 1996 when glaucoma cost him his vision in his right eye. In 2001, he was voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on the first ballot with 82% of the vote.

But what he did on the field was nothing compared to who he was off the field. He was possibly one of the most beloved players of all-time by both the fans and his peers. He made everybody feel at ease and welcome when he was around. He would pay somebody to pitch batting practice to him every day with his own money. He would pick up the tab at a restaurant.

He touched so many hearts during his career that when he suffered his stroke on Sunday, many of his former teammates flew to the Arizona hospital he was in. Upon his death, only praise had to be given to Puckett. Many former teammates spoke generously of him. Many shed tears.

In Pucketts Hall of Fame induction speech, he spoke of the joy that he was being inducted alongside a friend, Dave Winfield. I think that Puckett could and would have said that about anybody, because Puckett had many friends, and will be missed by them all.