Thursday, March 6, 2014

1993 TOPPS FINEST: #112 KIRBY PUCKETT


A KEG OF DYNAMITE ON AND OFF THE FIELD.



SHOWING OFF THE GUN.


DEFINING THE PLAYER

  • Kirby Puckett looked like a beer-league softball player but played like a Hall of Fame hardball player. In a career cut short by glaucoma that left him without vision in his right eye at age 35, Puckett was the "Have a Nice Day'' smiley face on the game for 12 years. He was a contact hitter who neither walked nor struck out much but could drive the ball, amassing 2,304 hits, 207 home runs with a slash line of .318/.360/.477. That smile might have been as put on as those smiley-face stickers were in the '70s. The 10-time All-Star allegedly had inappropriate contact with various women, prompting a Sports Illustrated cover story by respected writer Frank Deford in 2003. It exposed a side baseball fans never saw. Between the lines, however, he was a player universally loved and mourned after he had a stroke and died in '06 at age 45.

DEFINING MOMENT

  • Puckett saved the Twins from elimination in Game 6 of the 1991 World Series on Oct. 26. Trailing the Braves three games to two, Puckett gave the Twins the lead in the first with a run-scoring triple and robbed #68 Ron Gant of an extra-base hit in the third with a catch against the center-field wall. He saved the real heroics for the bottom of the 11th. Facing Charlie Leibrandt, Puckett rocketed a 2-1 pitch over the left-field wall for a 4-3 victory. Minnesota wrapped up their second World Series in five years the next night.

DEFINING SEASON

  • Puckett hit a career-high .356 in '88 with 24 homers and 121 RBI in '88. He led the majors in hits with 234 and total bases with 358.

FIVE FINAL FACTS

  1. Puckett was the third overall pick in the '82 draft and quickly advanced to the majors, hitting .296 in 128 games in '84.
  2. Had his first All-Star season in '86, hitting a career-high 31 homers with 96 RBI and 20 steals.
  3. Hit .357 in the seven-game World Series win over the Cardinals in '87.
  4. Led the AL in RBI in the strike-shortened '94 season with 112.
  5. Puckett was charged with sexually assaulting a woman in '02 but was found not guilty. That along with other accusations from other women forced him to quit his job as Twins executive vice president.

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