Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Minnesota's #34
By Blogger

John addressed Kirby Puckett's death eloquently and with feeling. My take...

What should I think? It's traditional for the journalist to to give equal time to both sides of the story. But right now, Kirby Puckett is dead, and this is a prime case demonstrating that opposing sides--more accurately, the multiple sides--of a story are absolutely unequal.

What does Kirby Puckett mean? If you think that allegations of predatory behavior and rumors that were more than rumors mar the idea of Kirby Puckett, then sports don't mean the same thing to you that they mean to me. I don't condone those actions in any way, but it isn't central to Kirby Puckett. Jim Brown did jail time for smashing his wife's windshield. That's not central to Jim Brown. Kirby Puckett, to me, is something ethereal and nearly inexplicable. He wasn't a guy who lived in Arizona, rapidly gaining weight and whiling away his days on the golf course. He wasn't some creep who hit women. He was:

Minnesota CF 34 Smile 1987 .356 1991 "And we'll see you tomorrow night!" Smile Glaucoma Hall of Fame

...with billions of words and photographs filling in the gaps, but right there is his essential legacy for the billions of baseball fans that have yet to come and go and will never see him play and won't have memories of him streaking across the pool table in Minnesota to grab some poor batter's would-be double.

I can imagine what it must have been like to see Tris Speaker play center field for Boston, and I wish I could. But he was a Klan member, so I shouldn't wish that, right?

I know I'm making an Unapologetic Romantic's Argument. You could probably even call it an Ostrich's Head In The Sand Argument. Puckett may have been a dick, or he may not have been that much of one. Kirby Puckett was something entirely different. I choose to willingly remember how I felt at the time as a little boy, to ignore that I may or may not have been moved by a mirage, and to get choked up at losing what remained of the most spiritually enthralling baseball player of my lifetime.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I dont care who or what Kirby Puckett was off the field. All I want to remember is the infectious joy he brought to playing baseball. Kirby, Tony Gwynn, and Cal Ripken were the pure ones in the 90's, while McGwire, Sosa, And Bonds were using every loophole to pervert the game. I loved watching Kirby play, he made me feel like I felt playing Pony League ball: IT'S FUN TO BE OUT HERE. He died too young; He will be missed.

9:16 PM  

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