Hall of Famer Kirby Puckett, the buoyant, barrel-shaped outfielder with the perpetual smile who led the Minnesota Twins to two World Series titles in a five-year span, died Monday at an Arizona hospital.
Puckett, whose weight gain in recent years had concerned friends and former teammates, died after suffering a stroke early Sunday at his home in Scottsdale, Ariz. He was 45.
He wasn’t the best baseball player in the world (he was, frankly, a bit overrated), and he had some demons in his personal life, but he was more fun to watch play than just about anyone in the game at the time. I was ten when he debuted in the majors, and he was one of a handful of stars that carried me through my teenage years as a baseball fan.
If you love the game, you don’t forget the stars of your childhood. Kirby Puckett was one of them, and he will be missed. RIP.