It's not often that I do this. . .but here you go.
It was one year ago today that the world of Minnesota sports lost one of its true giants. Kirby Puckett passed away on 6 Mar 2006 following a massive stroke and the resulting complications.
When I was growing up in North Dakota, I spent many a summer night listening to the Twins on the radio or catching them on TV on the rare occasion that they were on. (A town of 600 people doesn't exactly have their own affiliate networks or anything.) Whenever we played baseball at the old field in the neighborhood and everyone was "calling" who they wanted to be, my choice was always #34. He wasn't the biggest guy on the field. . .or the strongest guy. . .or the fastest guy.
All he was. . .was great.
I still get chills up and down my spine every time I hear the legendary Jack Buck utter the words "and we'll see you. . .tomorrow night!" as I watch Kirby circle the bases after taking Charlie Liebrandt deep in Game 6 of the '91 World Series. My father, two of my brothers, and I were in attendance at Game 7 the next night. . .and we got to see the single greatest game of the single greatest World Series ever played. The Twins beat the Braves 1-0 in 10 innings and won their second World Series championship in 5 years.
Kirby Puckett made that possible. I didn't know the man personally, but for as long as I live, I'll never forget that. . .and I'll never forget him.
R.I.P., Kirby. Your life, much like your career, ended much sooner than it had any reason to. Believe me when I say you're still missed.