Tuesday, March 7, 2006

Remembering Kirby Puckett

News of Kirby Puckett's death came as a surprise today. I'm not up to date much on former players, and had trouble recalling his retirement even after my wife reminded me of his glaucoma. But I do remember a gamer, a player who made things work, a loyal Twin, respected and loved by the Minnesota fans and community and the baseball world, a hall of famer.

He was a prime heckling target of mine from the Coliseum bleachers even though I had a great deal of respect for him personally. I knew he could hear me from left field, but he was one of those players who tuned the fans out with no discernible reaction. His baseball skills were beyond legitimate criticism, so I concentrated on his person, with emphasis on his width-height ratio. My favorite line was, "Hey, Puckett, you look like the Pillsbury Dough Boy!," or maybe the Michelin Man, which usually made people laugh a good deal.

"Kirby Puckett" was also one of the best "baseball names" in history. A baseball name is an odd name that doesn't make it in the general population, but has a quirkiness tailored to the grand old game. His name kept good company with Dizzy Dean, Wade Boggs and some pitchers named Lefty.

Kirby, I'll remember you always, and consider it a gift to have watched you play.

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