As a child growing up in the late 80's and early 90's in the Mid-West there was only one player that epitomized all that was baseball. Kirby Puckett played the game like every little kid dreamed of playing it. His combination of power, defense, and hitting made him worthy of the Hall of Fame. Kids tried to imitate him by wearing Twins hats and swinging the same way that he did.
With all of these baseball attributes there was one other major attribute that made children love Kirby even more. Puckett approached everyday with a smile on his face. He played the game with a child like optimism. He came to the field everyday with two things in mind: winning the game and having a great time doing it.
From posters on the wall to albums full of trading cards, Kirby Puckett was the face of a franchise. He became an iconic figure in the Mid-West as he carried the Twins to two World Series wins in the late 80's and early 90's.
Still to this day fans can be seen wearing Puckett #34 jersey's at games. Bob Casey's iconic introduction of Kirby still echoes through the Metrodome hallways even though the team has moved across town. His performance in Game 6 of the 1991 World Series still gives people goose bumps. Even more memorable was the fact the he told his team to get on his back that evening and he was able to live up to that promise. The sign of a true hero.
There is a new generation of Twins fans that has new heroes to look up to. The Mauer's and the Morneau's will have their place in Twins history but there will only be one Kirby. These younger fans may have questions about the legend that is Kirby Puckett. Don't be afraid to indulge these young minds in all that he was for the Twins.
On a weekend that the Twins will honor 50 years as residents of the state of Minnesota, let's remember the Twin whose career was shortened and whose live was shortened. The one and only, the legendary... Kirby Puckett, a child's hero.