|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.
- 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.
- 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
- Puckett was the third overall pick in the '82 draft and quickly advanced to the majors, hitting .296 in 128 games in '84.
- Had his first All-Star season in '86, hitting a career-high 31 homers with 96 RBI and 20 steals.
- Hit .357 in the seven-game World Series win over the Cardinals in '87.
- Led the AL in RBI in the strike-shortened '94 season with 112.
- 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.