On this day 19 years ago, Kirby Puckett was named MVP of the All-Star Game. Puckett led the American League to a victory in that 1993 edition, taking home its top honor in the process. Puckett was 2-3, hitting a 2nd Inning Home Run of Terry Mulholland before following it up with a 5th inning RBI double off of John Burkett. The MVP award Puckett lifted after the 9-3 victory would prove to be another achievement in this legendary career.
Puckett played his entire career in Minnesota and is arguably the greatest player in Twins history. A Chicagoan, Puckett did not earn a single college offer coming out of high school as he went to work on a Ford assembly line before getting a chance at Bradley University, where he became a star. A first round draft pick by the Twins, Puckett's major league debut would come on May 8, 1984 and he found immediate success, finishing 3rd in the 1984 Rookie of the Year voting. However, 1986 would prove Puckett a star, as he won his first All-Star Game appearance, Golden Glove, and Silver Slugger that year, repeting that trio of achievements for the next three seasons after.
However, Puckett's most iconic moments came on the highest stage. He batted .357 in the 1987 World Series as the Twins won their first ever championship, defeating the Cardinals in seven games. Puckett would continue to star through the end of the 80's and into the 90's. 1991 would see Puckett help lead the Twins back to the World Series against the Atlanta Braves, as Puckett turned in some decisive defending and hit an 11th inning walk-off home run in Game 6 to force game 7. The Twins won Game 7 1-0 on the back of a 10 inning performance from Jack Morris, as Puckett took home his 2nd World Series title.
Puckett would never return to the playoffs, but he did turn in four more strong seasons, and All-Star in each. Sadly, during 1996 Spring Training, Puckett woke up one morning without vision in his right eye. Puckett was diagnosed with glaucoma, and subsequent surgeries could not return his vision. Puckett was forced to announce his retirement on July 12 at the age of 36. Puckett's #34 would be retired by the Twins the next year, and in 2001 Puckett was named a first ballot Hall of Famer.
The new millenium was not kind to Puckett, as controversy, weight, and illness followed. On March 5, 2006 Puckett suffered a massive stroke, and passed the next day at the age of 45. Puckett's untimely death was grieved by all of baseball. In 2010, as the Twins entered the new Target Field, a statue of Puckett was unveiled outside the ground.
Puckett remains a beloved son of Minnesota and one of the greatest outfielders of his era. Mitchell & Ness honors the late Kirby on the anniversary of his first and only All-Star Game MVP. Want to honor Puckett yourself? Check out our offering of authentic Puckett gear:
Minnesota Twins 1991 Home Jersey
1991 Batting Practice Jersey