Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Rest In Peace Kirby...

Kirby Puckett (Hall of Famer) was my favorite player in baseball during my high school and college years. Robin Yount and Paul Molitor were close to the top spot in my book as well. He died last night after suffering a massive stroke. It made me sad when I heard this morning that he had passed away.

It was sad enough when his career was cut short after being hit by a pitched ball and eventually losing sight in that right eye (due to glaucoma). Now this.

I still have a friend who calls me, "Kirby," because that was my nickname when I worked at McDonalds some 16 years ago. But, it wasn't his name that made me like him so much (but yes, it is a cute, little name). It was the way he played the game of baseball. I fashioned my style of play to be like the hard-nosed kind of player that he was. He was someone who truly enjoyed playing the game, and I made sure I had fun playing the game (after getting over my hot temper early in high school).

That style of play and my devotion to playing the game the way it should be played took me through my two college baseball teams -- and to the position of Team Captain (even though I was "undersized" and didn't always have the best stats on the team) my senior year in school.

I own more than 100 different kinds of baseball cards of Kirby. It was fun to keep on the look-out for ones I didn't yet own. I just collected them for the love of it. It wasn't an investment hope really. It was just fun to own a little piece of baseball history -- of one of the game's best clutch hitters.

There's a time for birth, and a time for death. Kirby, your death came far too soon. You a weren't perfect man, you had your share of faults -- we all do. I'll choose to remember you fondly, and the great feeling you gave me when you took the Twins team on your shoulders during the 6th game of the 1991 World Series. That great catch when you jumped to catch the crucial out against the outfield wall. And then that home run. That was truly one of the most impressive home runs in World Series and baseball history. Then you helped the Twins win their second World Championship Title (in a 4-year stretch) that next day.

Kirby Puckett, you were one of the greatest players of all-time. You will be missed. Rest in peace, brother. Rest in sweet peace.

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