Kirby Puckett Essentials

Positions: Centerfield
Bats: Right Throws: Right
Weight: 178
Born: March 14 1960 in Chicago, IL USA
Died: May 6, 2006 in Phoenix, AZ USA
Debut: May 8, 1984
Last Game: September 28, 1995
Hall of Fame: Inducted as a Player in 2001 by BBWAA
Full Name: Kirby Puckett

Career Batting Stats
G AB H R HR RBI SB AVG SLG OBP OPS OPS+
1783 7244 2304 1071 207 1085 134 .318 .477 .360 .837 114.0

Intro

In his first 1,248 major league at-bats Kirby Puckett hit just four home runs. In his third season he exploded for 31 homers and batted over .320 for the first of five times. He won the 1989 batting title and topped 200 hits five times. He played on the Twins only two World Series winning teams and was the most popular player in franchise history.

Quotes About

“He never had a bad day. I don’t care how bad things were going on or off the field, Kirby found a way to make you laugh… He was a breath of fresh air in this game.” — Frank Thomas

Best Season 1988

Following up the ’87 championship season, Puckett pounded out 234 hits, scored 109 runs, batted in 121, and clubbed 42 doubles. He batted .356 with 24 homers and a .545 slugging average. The Twins failed to repeat, but that was hardly Kirby’s fault. He finished third in MVP voting behind Jose Canseco.

Facts

Puckett had the most hits in the major leagues (1940) in the 10-year period from 1986 to 1995. Tony Gwynn was second with 1,842.

Feats

Puckett joined his mentor Tony Oliva and Ty Cobb as the only AL players to top the league in hits three straight seasons (1987-1989)… In the strike-shortened 1994 season he became one of the few players to record more RBI than games played (112-108).

Description

Puckett credited his power surge in 1986 to coach Tony Oliva, who helped Kirby by suggesting he kick his leg for extra weight shift and power transfer. The result was six seasons with at least 20 home runs and seven years of 35 or more doubles. Puckett’s batting title in 1989 was the first by a Twin since Rod Carew, and the first for a right-hander in a full season since Alex Johnson in 1970. After he won the batting title in 1989 he was rewarded with baseball’s first $3 million per year contract, quite an accomplishment for a player in small market Minnesota.

Notes

Career batting average of .337 against lefties (644-for-1912) and .311 against righties (1660-for-5332)… In All-Star contests, Puckett batted .292, and he was named 1993 All-Star Game MVP when he collected a double, home run, and two RBI… From 1986 to 1988, Puckett may have been the best player in baseball, winning three Gold Gloves, averaging 221 hits, 37 doubles, 13 steals, and a .339 batting average… No one was happier about Puckett’s election to the Baseball Hall of Fame than Cleveland Indians manager Charlie Manuel, Puckett’s minor league hitting coach at rookie league Elizabethon, Tennessee, in 1982. Manuel said he uses examples of Puckett’s play and attitude in motivational speeches to his players before games. Manuel said he became emotionally depressed for days when he heard that Puckett was forced to retire from baseball because of glaucoma.

Nine Other Players Who Debuted in 1984

Terry Pendleton
Kirby Puckett
Stan Javier
Eric Davis
Roger Clemens
John Franco
Dwight Gooden
Mark Langston
Bret Saberhagen

Post-Season Notes

Puckett was MVP of the 1991 ALCS, hitting .429 with two homers and six RBI against the Blue Jays… In 1991 his game-ending home run won Game Six of the World Series, propelling the Twins into Game Seven, which they ultimately won. He was a clutch performer – hitting a home run, driving in three, and scoring five runs in the 1987 playoff win over favored Detroit. In that season’s World Series he went 10-for-28 (.357) with 3 RBI, 5 runs, and a stolen base. In 1991 he improved upon that clutch image when he battered the Blue Jays in the ALCS, batting .429 (9-for-21) with two homers and 6 RBI. He homered in the final game and drove in the go-ahead run with a double in the 8th inning. For those efforts he was named ALCS MVP… In 10 AL Championship Series games, Puckett batted .311 with three homers and nine RBI. Puckett appeared in the World Series against the Cardinals in 1987 and Braves in 1991, helping the Twins win both seven-game series. Puckett’s World Series statistics include a .308 batting average, 16 hits, two homers, and seven RBI. In 1991, he became the ninth player to end a World Series game with a home run, belting an eleventh inning walk-off tater in Game Six off Charlie Liebrandt.

Feats

Puckett joined his mentor Tony Oliva and Ty Cobb as the only AL players to top the league in hits three straight seasons (1987-1989)… In the strike-shortened 1994 season he became one of the few players to record more RBI than games played (112-108).

Injuries and Explanation for Missed Playing Time

On September 28, 1995, Puckett was struck in the face by a pitch from Dennis Martinez. The incident ended his season with a broken jaw. In the spring of 1996 it was revealed that he had glaucoma, resulting in damage to the vision in his right eye. He would never play again. In 1997 the Twins retired his jersey #34.

Hitting Streaks

23 games (1993)

All-Star Selections
1986 AL
1987 AL
1988 AL
1989 AL
1990 AL
1991 AL
1992 AL
1993 AL
1994 AL
1995 AL