Kirby Puckett during the 1991 World Series
This Tuesday, A&E Home Entertainment will be releasing the 1991 World Series which featured the Minnesota Twins beating the Atlanta Braves in an eight-disk Collector's Edition DVD set. This is being released as part of the 20-year anniversary of the worst-to-first 1991 team the won what ESPN rated as the greatest World Series ever played.
On a personal note, no one moment in my life has defined the direction of my life more then the 1991 World Series. I was six at the time, or if you had asked me at the time I was six-and-a-half. It is my earliest memory that I am now able to recall.
I remember watching every game with my family in the living room on our old black-and-white television that still had the knobs to turn the channels. I remember sitting on the floor taylor-sitting like we did during group time in kindergarten.
I had my very first, of many, Homer Hankies, which I am sure drove my parents nuts as I constantly waved it during those amazing seven games during that memorable October. I still bring this 1991 Homer Hanky to every postseason game, but it seems to have lost its magic some in the last 20 years.
My favorite player was Kirby Puckett, like so many of kids of my generation who grew up in Minnesota. I even modeled my tee-ball swing after the pudgy superstar. To this day he is still known to my mother not as Kirby, but Kiiiiiiiirrrrrbbbbyyyyy Puckett!!! I was apparently unable to say his name unless I mimicked the legendary Twins announcer Bob Casey.
Kirby put the Twins on his back in that series, winning Game 6 nearly by himself with plays so iconic I don't even need to mention them to any Twins fan.
Kirby, and the 1991 Twins gave me my greatest childhood memories, and I would not be writing for all of you now had the Twins lost that series because my lifetime love affair with baseball began during that greatest of fall classics.
March 6, 2006 marked the end of my childhood. Kirby Puckett had passed away following a stroke.
I wept as if I had lost a member of my family. Your heroes during childhood are more important then heroes later in life. And Kirby was the greatest hero I could have ever asked for.
Despite an impending snow storm, I knew I had to be at the Metrodome for the memorial for Kirby Puckett along with 15,000 other fans, so I drove the 140 miles south from Duluth. It was the least I could do for a man who brought so much happiness to a boy he never met.
As the players and friends of Kirby spoke I couldn't help but look out towards center field with my misty eyes. Kirby would no longer rob a home run, throw out a over-zealous runner trying to take an extra base, or win any more baseball games for his Minnesota Twins, but the memories I and so many other millions have made will last forever.
To honor both Puckett and the 1991 Minnesota Twins, next weekend's series against the Chicago White Sox has a series of promotions scheduled including the release of a highly anticipated bobble-head immortalizing one of the most famous plays of the seven games versus Atlanta, and the reunion of all living members of the 1991 team.