Born: May 14, 1960 (Chicago, IL)
ML Debut: May 8, 1984
Final Game: September 28, 1995
Bats: Right Throws: Right
5' 8" 210 lb.
Hall of Fame: 2001(Baseball Writers; 423 votes on 515 ballots; 82.14%
|Played for Minnesota Twins (1984-1995)
All-Star 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995
Gold Gloves 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1991, 1992; Silver Slugger 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1992, 1994
1991 ALCS MVP
1993 ML-AS MVP
1993 Branch Rickey Award
His smile brightened up Minneapolis and his blazing bat lit up the American League for 12 enjoyable seasons. Charisma oozed out of Kirby Puckett's Smurfian 5-foot-8 body like water out of a sponge. He brought effervescence, personality and success to a downtrodden Twins franchise while charming his way through a productive career cut short by a serious eye problem in 1996.
It was easy to love the barrel-chested, thick-necked Puckett, who signed autographs with the same enthusiasm that he drove line drives into the gap and chased down fly balls hit into his center field domain. Fans and teammates were swept away by the quick smile; opposing pitchers were swept away by the quick righthanded swing that whipped through the ball from a crouching stance. No area of the ballpark escaped the wicked drives lashed out by one of baseball's classic bad-ball hitters.
Over his 12 big-league seasons, Puckett topped .300 eight times and reached the 200-hit plateau four years in a row. He could finesse you with his deceptive speed or club you with his surprising power. The 1989 A.L. batting champion also was three-time 100-RBI run-producer from his No. 3 spot in the Twins order and the catalyst for Minnesota World Series winners in 1987 and 1991.
Puckett was at his memorable best when scaling the Metrodome's center field fence to rob hitters of home runs, a feat he pulled off with amazing regularity. Twins fans will never forget Game 6 of the 1991 World Series, when Puckett leaped above the fence in the third inning to rob Atlanta's Ron Gant and then hit a game-winning, Series-saving home run in the 11th.
Puckett, at age 35, woke up one morning before the 1996 season with blurred vision in his right eye, a condition later diagnosed as glaucoma. He never played again. The 10-time All Star Game performer finished with a .318 average and 2,304 hits -- and status alongside Harmon Killebrew as the most popular players in Minnesota history.
Heroes of the Hall
Led the AL with a .339 batting average in 1989.
Led the AL in hits four times: 1987 (207), 1988, (234), 1989 (215), and 1992 (210).
Led the AL in RBI in 1994 (112).
On 28 September 1994, Puckett's jaw was broken by a fastball from Dennis Martinez (CLE).
The Twins nearly lost Puckett to the Boston Red Sox in 1993 because owner Carl Pohlad was opposed to signing free agents; Pohlad made a last-minute exception in Puckett's case.