Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor,

Not only did Minnesota lose a hero Monday, nor did just the world of sports, but the world as a whole. Transcending a game that he loved so much, Kirby was so much more than just a roly-poly, atypical athlete.

I know we’ve all heard and told our share of Kirby stories by now.

How many times have we reminisced about that Game 6 catch, where what could have been Al Roker’s doppelganger defied physics and elevated to make a catch that will last forever?

Or his home run in the same game that sent the Series to Game 7?

Or how the world stopped when he took a pitch in the eye.

Or when he retired.

Or, worst of all, when we heard the news:

They pulled the plug.

Monday night, as I sat glued to the TV, fighting to stifle that lump in my throat, it truly hit me how much Kirby Puckett meant to my generation.

I was born in 1983. When I was 4, the Twins won their first Series. I can admit that I don’t remember that one.

Then, in 1991, I was 8 and will never forget that Game 6 or when Dan Gladden – sporting a classic mullet – stomped on home plate as his teammates engulfed him.

But as clear as those memories are, especially for an 8 year old, that’s not what will last the most.

What I’ll remember most is what he meant to us kids as we gloriously rounded the bases after knocking one out to the weeds.

Kirby taught us all fair play. He taught us a love for the game. He taught us persistence, and succeeding against all odds.

And he taught us about life. What kid didn’t have or know someone who had the Kirby Puckett poster that said, “I can handle smoking fastballs. It’s smoking cigarettes I have a problem with.”

So many people can argue that his image has been tainted with the messy divorce, allegations and later charges.

You could even argue that for this to affect me and so many people like this is simply sad to see how high we’ve vaulted professional athletes in this country.

But I know I can speak for millions of kids my age when I say that when we heard that news Monday night, we didn’t think about all that.

We remembered the fact that Kirby provided a true role model in a sports world rife with corruption and insincerity.

He taught us — and showed us through example — that the game was about playing for a love of the game, at any level. Simple as that.

Most of all, he taught us as kids to believe in ourselves.

And that can never die.

Matt Paulson
Editor, Kanabec County Times
Class of 2005

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Journalism operations manager at the University of La Verne. Production manager and business manager of the Campus Times.

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