Tuesday, March 07, 2006

This cat could PLAY.

Kirby Puckett played centerfield for the Minnesota Twins in the '80s and into the mid-'90s, when glaucoma blinded him in his right eye and ended his career. He suffered a stroke yesterday, and died today at the age of 45.

I've been a Detroit Tigers fan all my life. In the late '80s, when both the Twins and the Tigers were great, there were plenty of times when a key series would come down to a play involving Puckett in some way; he'd make a diving catch, or leap over the wall to steal a home run, or get a key hit which would win it for the Twins. You did not want to see him come to the plate with the game on the line, because you knew it'd be as good as over.

Sure, he was great in the '91 World Series, and sure, he put up some fantastic numbers in his shortened career. But when I think of Kirby Puckett, I remember the sense of dread I always felt in the pit of my stomach, knowing he was somehow going to come up big when his team needed him the most, and ruin my day in the process.

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