Editorial: We’ll miss you, Kirby Puckett

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 7, 2006

The entire state of Minnesota mourns the death of Kirby Puckett. So do we.

Legendary Twins slugger Kirby Puckett suffered a stroke Sunday morning at his home in Scottsdale, Ariz. Surgery was required to drain bleeding in his brain. He was in recovery but unable to recover. Puckett, 44, died Monday.

The Hall of Famer was the driving force behind the Twins’ two World Series titles: one in 1987 and one in 1991. He finished his career with a .318 batting average and 2,304 hits. He won six Gold Gloves for his outfield skills. He was selected to 10 American League All-Star teams during his 12-year career in Major League Baseball. In December 1999, Minnesota media chose him as the state’s No. 1 sports figure of the 20th century.

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Glaucoma ended his career early in 1996. Puckett, who would have turned 45 next Tuesday, was inducted into Cooperstown in 2001.

We give the players and staff of the Minnesota Twins our condolences. The current players and staff in the Twins organization looked up to Puckett; he is the greatest icon the franchise has, after all. He coached for a time after retiring from play, and many people there stayed in contact with him. In fact, the Metrodome, where the Twins play, is on Kirby Puckett Place.

We remember Puckett as someone who played for the love of the game. He played hard and always with a smile. He was always willing to sign an autograph. He never became arrogant like many athletes who find stardom, and he was always thankful to play baseball for a living, even when glaucoma ended his career.

And who can forget his home run at the end of Game 6 of the 1991 World Series? Puckett’s shot forced Game 7 and the Twins beat the Atlanta Braves. It’s part of baseball lore now.