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About Me

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Will Tinkham has published six novels: THE CARY GRANT SANATORIUM AND PLAYHOUSE, THE GREAT AMERICAN SCRAPBOOK, THE ADVENTURES OF HANK FENN, BONUS MAN, NO HAPPIER STATE, and ALICE AND HER GRAND BELL. He lives and writes in Minneapolis, MN. His short fiction has been published on three continents and he long ago attended Bread Loaf on a scholarship. An actor of little renown, his credits do include the Guthrie Theater and Theatre in the Round. @WillTinkhamfictionist on Facebook

Thursday, January 27, 2011

On Meeting Kirby Puckett

[Wikipedia: Kirby Puckett (March 14, 1960 – March 6, 2006) played his entire 12-year baseball career with the Minnesota Twins (1984-1995).]



The Visalia Oaks came to play the San Jose Bees back in 1983. The Bees played in the lowest (single A) minor league and were a co-op team owned by four Major League teams and one from Japan. The first base coach doubled as their interpreter. Small ballpark, small crowd; the players and umpires couldn't help but hear the hecklers.

After some tailgating, my friends Bodie (from Tennessee), Tex (from Mississippi), DinDin and I took our seats behind the third base dugout. (Both southerners had booming twangs. Very effective. Us Minneapolis natives, not so much.) It was our custom to pick one member of the opposing team and ride him relentlessly throughout the game. We saw the name Kirby Puckett in the program and he was the one. Though comparatively svelte in those days, Kirby still had the huge butt and, when he waddled up to home plate to lead off the game, we let him have it. We gave him our best stuff, even managing to rhyme his last name without being vulgar.

The first pitch came in eye-high. Kirby hacked at it anyway, hitting a line shot that was by the shortstop before he could even react. The ball stayed on the same plane till it crashed into the fence in left-center. The hardest hit ball I've ever seen. Kirby chugged into third with a stand-up triple, looked up at us and tipped the bill of his helmet—all the while flashing us that wonderful smile.

We quickly searched the program for someone else to taunt. Within a year Kirby was getting four hits in his first game with the Twins and the rest is World Championships and Hall of Fame. (Okay, so we really didn't meet him. But he did acknowledge us.)

2 comments:

  1. Sounds like your unrelenting taunting led him on to be a Hall of Famer, or not.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Likely not, though he did have the last laugh at our expense.

    ReplyDelete