Minnesota Twins: The 4 players who are on the franchise’s Mount Rushmore

Oct 7, 2019; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Fans stand next to a Kirby Puckett statue before the start of game three of the 2019 ALDS playoff baseball series between the New York Yankees and the Minnesota Twins at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: David Berding-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 7, 2019; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Fans stand next to a Kirby Puckett statue before the start of game three of the 2019 ALDS playoff baseball series between the New York Yankees and the Minnesota Twins at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: David Berding-USA TODAY Sports /
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Kirby Puckett, Minnesota Twins
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Minnesota Twins: Kirby Puckett has unique place on this Mount Rushmore

For segment of Twins’ fans who are a certain age, Puckett was (still is?) the face of the franchise and someone who was easy imitate on the diamond as young baseball players. The third overall pick in the 1982 draft, he arrived in the big leagues in 1984 and hit just four home runs over his first two seasons.

Armed with a different swing, a little more weight on his short frame and leg kick he would become famous for, Puckett surged to 31 home runs in 1986. That would stand as his career-best home run total, but he had plenty of hits, drove in lots of runs and played a Gold Glove center field for years to come afterward. He was the heart and soul of Twins’ championship teams in 1987 and 1991.

Pucket’s shining moment(s) on a national stage came in Game 6 of the 1991 World Series. First, there was this catch — with the added effect of the sound of him colliding with the Metrodome plexiglass.

Then, with Jack Buck’s iconic television call adding juice to it (“And we’ll see ya tomorrow night!”), came Puckett’s game-winning home run to force Game 7.

Puckett’s career ended early when he woke up late in 1996 spring training without vision in his right eye. He was diagnosed with glaucoma, and he officially retired during that season at the age of 36.

In 12 seasons, all with the Twins of course, Puckett had a .318 career batting average with 2,304 hits. He was a 10-time All-Star, a six-time Gold Glover and a six-time Silver Slugger winner, with an ALCS MVP (1991, of course), a batting title (1989) and an All-Star Game MVP on his resume. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2001, in his first year on the ballot, and he passed away just shy of his 46th birthday in March of 2006.