Kirby Puckett was a professional baseball player for the Minnesota Twins of the Major Baseball League. He was born on March 14, 1960 in Chicago, Illinois and raised in a public housing project in Chicago. He attended and graduated from Calumet High School, where he played baseball. Due to his short stature, a mere 5 feet and 8 inches, Puckett received no scholarships from universities, much to his disappointment. He therefore decided to work as an assembly line worker at Ford Motor Company. He then went back to school and attended Bradley University, and a year later, transferred to Triton College. In 1982, he was selected by the Minnesota Twins in the first Major League Baseball draft that year. He first played for a few minor leagues such as the Appalachian League and the California League, where he showed great prowess. In 1984, 21 games into the season, he was brought into the major leagues.
He made his major league debut on May 8 against the California Angels. His average during the first year was .296, ranking fourth in the American League in singles. The next year, his average was .288 hits, which made him fourth in the league in hits, third in triples, second in plate appearances, and first in at bats. In 1986, he was selected to his first All-Star game, and also earned his first Golden Glove Award. He began to make a name for himself as more than just a hitter, and began to improve his statistics for total runs scored, bases, at bats and assists.
The Minnesota Twins reached the post-season in 1987, which was the first time they had done so since 1970. Puckett helped his team to win the 1987 World Series title, which was only the fifth time that they had done so in the history of the franchise. Statistically, Puckett’s best season was 1988, where he hit an average of .356, scored 24 home runs, and 121 Runs Batted In. He finished third in the Most Valuable Player voting, same as the year before that. However, the Twins’ performance deteriorated, as did Puckett’s, and the team slipped into last place in the division league in 1990. The very next year, however, they got back on track, and reached the finals of the World Series. In it, they faced the Atlanta Braves as opponents. In the sixth game, the Twins were down but eventually won due to Puckett’s match winning home run at the last minute. The series was decided in the seventh game, giving the Twins their second title in 5 years.
Puckett could not finish the 1995 season due to a broken jaw during a game, although he was having a lucrative season prior to the injury. He got back on the field after recovery, but in 1996, he lost vision in his right eye due to glaucoma. After a series of operations, Puckett announced his retirement in 1996. He was made executive vice-president of the team and also received the 1996 Roberto Clemente Award for community service. In 2001, he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. There were a number of scandals in his personal life, including charges of assault, sexual harassment and abuse, which forced him to give up his position as vice president. He moved to Arizona with his fiancé and her son, where he lived for the rest of his life. He died at the age of 46 due to a brain hemorrhage. Thousands of fans and many of his teammates showed up for his memorial service. A statue commemorating his iconic win in game 6 of the World Series has been erected in Minneapolis.