Kirby Puckett

This is belated:

Kirby Puckett



Considering the bandwagon jumping that has accompanied the passing of Kirby Puckett, I must lay claim to my rightful place in the pantheon of those who would honor him. I was nine years old when Kirby led the Twins to victory in what is widely considered the best World Series ever played. As anyone who lived within a 250-mile radius of Minneapolis that season knows, Kirby was... in a word... Jesus. Not on a scale seen more than a handful of times in major league sports, Kirby Puckett was a figure of such sterling reputation and staggering popularity that, as many hack journalists have been quick to point out, he probably could not exist in the modern, post-A-Rod contract, Pacers brawl, Barry Bonds era. To anyone growing up in the region, his status was a given, a sort of agreed-upon point of faith: Kirby Puckett is inherently and intrinsically good. His lovability factor was high- 5'8" tall, 210 pounds, he was a tiny boulder of a man capable of moving quickly and rather gracelessly, stubby twig legs and barrel body chugging along. His personal problems have tarnished his public image, but does little to diminish his power as an icon for several generations, whose psychic connection to him was formed during his years of hard work and spectacular play. Every article I've read since his passing has focused on the home run in Game 6, but it's the catch that made that home run possible that dominated my memory. It was always Kirby's defense that delighted the most, as he looked at his most Kirby when his entirely unconventional body was fully in motion- his vertical leap was basketball big and his timing was usually dead nuts on, allowing him to grab balls a foot and a half past the outfield fence in a motion that, for him, was quite graceful, practiced and nonchalant. His work ethic always impressed but, I think, the attachment I (we) had with him had more to do with the fact that he made it look like fun. Bye, Kirby.

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