Goodbye Kirby

Kirby Puckett died last night. Kirby was one of the first superstars of baseball that I ever knew about. His career started about the same time as I started learning about the MLB. I remember my dad telling me about him, describing him as a "rain barrel in center field." I remember always wanting to have him on my team when my dad and I played a baseball board game. He was one of the first lessons I had in the strange turns that life can make. He played for 12 years, and was arguably the best of the best over that span of time, but then he started to lose his sight and he had to retire far too early into his career. He would still appear on TV and at Twins games and whatnot, always with a big smile on his face. He was a man who was just happy to live life, and to be associated with baseball in any way he could. Now, at just 45, he is gone. I'm not used to talking about death in regards to those who were close to me, let alone those who just held spots in my childhood memory, so I'll leave this with the ending to Jayson Stark's column:

So it's hard to compute that we now find ourselves reflecting on the end of Kirby Puckett's life.

His career ended way too abruptly. His final years were far too sad. But his death just feels wrong, and cruel -- no matter how many pounds he'd added, or how much his friends worried about him.

In baseball, there are never enough reasons to smile. And no player of his time ever made us smile more than Kirby Puckett. It's too late to engrave that on his Hall of Fame plaque. But it's never too late to be grateful he passed through our world.