Kirby Puckett, 1961-2006
He came out of the South Side of Chicago and played a year's worth of ball for Bradley down here in Peoria. He then went on to become, with the Minnesota Twins, not only a ten time All-Star, not only a two-time World Champ, not only a batting champ, and not only a Hall of Famer; but also (according to Chris Rock) one of only two black men who lived in Minnesota (the other, of course, Prince.)
Luckily, I remember 1991 better than I do 1987. In late October of '91, I was 11 years old and with my old man and grandpa, closing up our cabin in Indiana for the winter. I remember being thrilled by Kirby's performance in Game 6, not only because he completely changed the momentum of the World Series, but because I got to stay up until midnight to see it happen. The next night made it all too sweeter. His heroics in Game 6 of the '91 World Series, followed up by Jack Morris' performance in Game 7 were some of my favorite childhood sports memories. That 1991 Twins team was a thing of beauty.
Yeah, a bad side of his came to light later in his life, but much like Bill Cosby, people forgot that he was, in the words of Dave Chapelle, "a nigga from the hood." Some times, "real shit happens."
It did seem, however, that he had made peace with his family before passing, so I'm going to go ahead and forgive him.
I'd rather remember him jumping up against the plexi-glass.
So long, Kirby. We'll miss ya.
[Update- While it may not have the shock that DK57's death had, Kirby's death does seem like what would happen if all of a sudden Willie McGee turned up dead. The FYC's thoughts are with the Twins and their fans today. Godspeed]