Kirby Puckett and Dave Winfield inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame

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Kirby Puckett and Dave Winfield will be inducted into the Hall on Sunday. A Baseball Hall of Fame extravaganza to preview the event with the recorded words of Kirby Puckett himself, sports analyst Howard Sinker live from Cooperstown, and comments from MPR listeners.

Read the Text Transcription of the Audio.

(00:00:20) And welcome back to midday. I'm Mike Mulcahy sitting in today for Gary eichten. It's going to be a big weekend for Minnesota Baseball fans to greats are headed to Cooperstown. They hardly even need an introduction Kirby Puckett played 12 years for the Minnesota Twins led the team to Two World Series victories, and in the process became the most popular sports figure in the state's history and Dave Winfield grew up in st. Paul went on to play for six clubs including the San Diego Padres the New York Yankees Toronto Blue Jays and two seasons with the twins both men were elected to the Hall of Fame the first year, they became eligible. Well, lots of minnesotans will be heading to Cooper's town for the ceremonies this weekend and we'll spend the hour talking. About what these two men have meant to sports fans and to minnesotans at large to start Minnesota public radio's William wilcoxen has this report on the newest arrivals in Cooperstown if Dave Winfield grew up in the st. Paul of today. He could practice hitting baseballs year-round on an indoor field like the park Department Dome on the city's North End where older brother Steve Winfield works as the lead instructor. Dave and Steve Winfield used (00:01:31) their sidewalk shoveling earnings to practice for a different prospective Sports career buying time in the nearest bowling alley where (00:01:38) Steve says they impersonated the best Bowlers of the day. (00:01:41) Don Carter was my idol and guy named Eric Weber was David's I'll so we used to pretend like we were those guys but we always looked at it later back over the years and thought should we could have been pretty good if we had kept bowling (00:01:58) inevitably though the snow melted and the Winfield boys drifted from the bowling alley back out to the baseball diamond to pursue their true passion Billy Peterson coach the wind fields for eight years on midget jr. And American Legion teams at st. Paul's Oxford playground Peterson says the brothers invented ways to keep playing their favorite sport, even when it was out of season these two kids were so creative and what they did nowadays kids aren't creative. They go to a baseball practice. To Saint Etienne baseball form these kids it after practice or before practice they'd be up and they'd make some games of Home Run Derby or they strike out or some little creative game and you didn't need a field you could do it inside. And so it was that's why I say they played baseball all year long. They they created ways to play Dave Winfield was always known for his strong throwing arm as well as his long home runs Peterson remembers a young David standing atop the pitcher's mound grinning with a mixture of confidence and joy, as one teenager after another failed at his fastball at the University of Minnesota Winfield played the outfield on days when he wasn't pitching Scott Franzen now the circulation director for the st. Paul Pioneer Press was Winfield's catcher on the 1971 Gophers friends in says the confidence Winfield exuded added to the respect his peers had for him. He (00:03:11) said he was going to be a big league player. He told us that and you know for a lot of people you would think that he was bragging or you know, you think gee what a what a jerk this guy's brags about himself, but he had such Manner in such a way about himself that when he said something to you when he said, you know, I'm gonna be I'm gonna be a professional baseball player. I'm going to be playing in the big leagues. You knew he was going to do that (00:03:34) when people didn't even pause in the minor leagues Moving Straight From the U of M to the majors as the starting right fielder for the San Diego Padres is value as a hitter meant the Padres wanted his Bat in the lineup every day and never seriously considered using him as a pitcher which would have meant resting him a few days after each start when field says he understood the decision and didn't mind it. But he says some in the Twin Cities were mystified by the move (00:03:56) most of my friends. I left for San Diego and they said and when you're going to pinch because I was 13 and one my last year here in Minnesota. I probably record was probably Twenty Eight and four over my career here and all of a sudden I'm not pitching (00:04:12) 12 and a pitch ground ball left side. Number three thousand for Dave Winfield (00:04:20) Winfield did well without taking the pitcher's mound winning. Seven Gold Glove awards for his play in the Outfield and becoming only the fifth player to exceed both 400 home runs and 3,000 hits his Landmark 3000th hit came at the Metrodome in 1993 the first of two seasons Winfield played with the Minnesota Twins and was broadcast on WCCO radio by John Gordon the player who scored from third base on that hit will stand alongside Winfield at Cooperstown this weekend in 12 years with the twins Kirby Puckett became arguably the most popular athlete in Minnesota sports history at 5 feet 8 inches and more than 200 pounds pocket cut a teddy bears figure as he sprinted around the bases and the Outfield with surprising quickness leading the twins to World Series Championships in 1987. And again in 1991, but bucket old Minnesota Public Radio 3 years ago his greatest baseball. Thrill came not in the World Series, but on his first day in the majors after a boyhood in a public housing project. Checked on Chicago's South Side pocket broke into the big leagues in 1984. He left his minor league team in Maine and hurried across the country to join the twins on a road trip in California just before game time. (00:05:28) I walked into the clubhouse and I saw a Randy Bush was the first guy. I saw and Tim London can her back and I call them all. Mr. Mister Viola and I got there just in time take a couple swings and when I walked on that field and Anaheim, I knew that You know, I belong I mean because I worked so hard and I knew there since I was five years old. I was my dream and I got a chance to live my dream for 12 (00:05:49) years and it's one very high and deep to left Center back his pocket. He's at the fence. He leaps up. He caught it Oh What A Catch? Oh Kirby Pucket with a great grab and left center field (00:06:04) in addition 26 Gold Glove Awards pocket one a batting championship and had more hits through his first ten Seasons than any other player in major league history, but apart from his skills. It was Pucketts unbridled enthusiasm for the game that made him one of baseball's best loved players his Readiness to work hard combined with his fun-loving childlike attitude won him the admiration of fans teammates and opponents and counter the notion of the prima. Donna pro athlete a (00:06:30) smile to sign autographs for the kids. I shook their (00:06:32) hands. I saw what a difference I mean these kids lives by throwing Baseballs in the stands and give them a baseball every now and then and I still get letters today from people the same when I was a kid, of course, I must be getting old now when people say mr. Parker when I was a kid you threw me a baseball and (00:06:47) Milwaukee County Stadium and I kept it and you signed it for me. You're my hero. I mean it makes me feel pretty good. (00:07:00) Both Winfield and pocket have received (00:07:01) Service Awards and recognition of the time and money that contributed to charitable causes while teammates on the twins. They started to baseball league for Twin Cities youngsters that has flourished in the last eight years and is now divided into the pocket division in the wind field division Winfield who now lives in Los Angeles says the values instilled by his extended family in st. Paul are what carried him through his professional career and landed him in baseball's Hall of Fame. (00:07:25) The seeds are Planet the foundation is built long before people. Find out that you're a good athlete or whatever by the time I got to the University of Minnesota and had a little bit of Polish. I mean a lot of things were instilled in me the way I conduct myself the way I played the game (00:07:44) Kirby Buckets baseball career ended prematurely in 1996 when glaucoma suddenly blocked the vision in his right eye now as a vice-president of the twins pocket often speaks to schoolchildren reminding him that hard work can overcome many obstacles, but that some of life's curves should be accepted philosophically (00:08:01) doctor told me mr. Puckett. I'm sorry, you're not going to play baseball anymore. (00:08:05) Everybody around me started to (00:08:06) cry but I didn't cry because I just thank God that I played those 12 years. Like I played those 12 years in the big leagues (00:08:13) Kirby Pucket and Dave Winfield will be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame Sunday along with former Pittsburgh Pirates star Bill mazeroski and former Negro League. Great Hilton Smith. I'm William. Wilcoxon, Minnesota Public Radio, and I'm Mike Mulcahy for the rest of the hour. We're going to be talking about Pocket and Dave Winfield we're going to be joined by MPR sports analyst and Star Tribune State News editor Howard Sinker who is in Cooperstown and we will hear more of what Kirby Puckett is had to say over the years. We'd like to hear from you too. What do you remember best about Kirby pocket? What moment landed him in your own personal Hall of Fame? Join us by calling 6512276 thousand in the Twin Cities 6512276 thousand anywhere else. You can hear us. It's a toll free call 1-800 to four to Twenty Eight twenty eight one eight hundred two four two 2828 Howard Sinker. Thanks for being with us today. (00:09:09) Good too. Good to be with you Mike. How are you? (00:09:10) Good. Now the ceremony isn't until Sunday. So so what happens up until then in Cooperstown? Is it just one big party (00:09:17) really today and tomorrow a lot of the other about 40 current members of the Hall of Fame who will be here. It's really a big weekend for people coming to visit the hall. They expect about 20,000 people. In Cooperstown, which is a city of about 2,200 people and so things just things just get overrun and you know, you have your shuttle staking people around town. There's a there's a New York Penn League Baseball game tomorrow. There are a couple of organized activity sponsored by the hall, but really really the main event is Sunday, which is which is the the induction ceremony at 12:30 central (00:09:59) time. No, I've never been to the Hall of Fame. What's it? What's it (00:10:03) like, well, this is this is our first trip. This is a little Father and Son bonding event. We started out in Vermont earlier this week and it's it's, you know, you can make this into 6 7 or 8 hours worth of looking around just anything that has anything to do with baseball is at the hall of fame. And of course, there are a lot of little cottage He's and not so cottage industries that have grown up around baseball in Cooperstown. One of them is that many of the many of the Hall of Famers do appearance of do do signings over the weekend where you can pay anywhere from like $15 for a mud Captain William Mud Cat Grants autograph. And of course, he's not a Hall of Famer to you know, upwards of 90 or 95 dollars. I think it was for Bob Gibson to autograph a jersey. Wow, but this is this apparently is a lucrative weekend for folks who can cash in on their Hall of Fame and on there, you know, one time up playing the game (00:11:11) status. The great thing about baseball is you can be a casual fan and watch it every, you know, a couple weeks or follow it when it gets hot, or you can be a die-hard to stat crunching monster Kirby Pucketts career cut short obviously by glaucoma. There are question among the baseball purists about his numbers being good enough to be in the Hall of Fame. (00:11:37) Oh, no, I think Mike that but his numbers it's his numbers and really the way he played the game. Yeah, his career was cut short but you know, the his career wasn't really in any kind of decline. You wouldn't he would have had 3,000 hits. He may have won a couple more gold gloves. He certainly would have made the Twins and more competitive team and the latter part of the 90s and he would certainly be playing today. I mean, he might be just a DEA chasing but II think that you know, in addition to the way he played the game. It's kind of like the opposite of Pete Rose his impact on the game is it's all good. It's nothing negative whatsoever. So I think that you know, there's a reward in heaven for being an excellent baseball player, but for being Kirby (00:12:28) Puckett and what about Dave? Hilda we heard William wilcoxon story 400 home runs 3000 hits. Not much doubt. He should be there right? (00:12:38) No doubt at all, you know, especially played so many years for the Yankees. He's a New York favorite, even though he has decided to go into the into the Hall of Fame wearing a Padres cap. This is still probably a little bit bigger weekend for the Hall of Fame because of Winfield's induction. (00:12:56) We're talking with Howard Sinker. He is a sports analyst and his real job start Star Tribune newspaper State News editor. We'd like you to join our conversation today about Kirby pocket and Dave Winfield going into the Hall of Fame. Tell us what you remember about Kirby Puckett and tell us when it really struck you that this guy was the real thing. I'm sure for most of us. It was probably before the 1987 World Series. Anyway the number to call six five one two, two seven six thousand 6512276 thousand if you're listening outside the Twin Cities, give us a call toll free. One eight hundred two four to Twenty Eight. Twenty eight one eight hundred 242. 2828. Let's hear from Kirby Puckett early on in his career. He he did an interview with a couple years ago and talked about how he started out in (00:13:46) baseball for me. It was a good experience. I'll tell people if I had to do it all over again, I'd do it the same way I think grew up in that neighborhood taught me to be tough. First of all, I'm a baby in nine kids. So I got beat up by my five brothers and three sisters a lot. So I had to take a lot of weapons but I mean, yeah that was just part of the program. You know why I grew up you had to take your beatings and and go on and if you bounce back from you're gonna be a nice stronger person, but if you didn't you can be lost in the shuffle somewhere and always considered myself a Survivor. I was going to do whatever it took to reach my goals and I thank God that ever since I was five years old. I look at my son little curvy every day and he's five years already since I was his age. I just knew that I was going to be a professional baseball player. I knew that it was in the cards because I was gonna put everything I had into it and I played baseball for a long time and it paid off. For me I get to play 12 wonderful years in the big leagues and went to World Championships and do I mean I consider myself an overachiever, but I worked hard at it. What drugs what Drew you to baseball? What was it? What was it about it, you know nobody push me towards baseball and all my brothers played in high school and they can pursue it any further my family played my dad pitched in to eat and Negro Leagues he pitch for a little while. And and so I saw it on TV one day and that's what I wanted to do. Of course, I grew up in Chicago and of course we had chat walk and Bob love and all these guys, I mean get when I was a kid growing up, but I know it was going to be very tall so I know what's basketball. I want to play even though I was good at it baseball was my (00:15:07) love. RB pocket also talked about the early days before he made it into the big leagues. (00:15:16) I used to play with older guys my whole life my brothers and my brothers told me that if I want to get better at playing baseball had to play with guys that older when I was 15 years old. I was playing Semi-Pro ball will guys there were in double-a Triple-A and Major League ball clubs, and he said guys have been in the minor leagues for years and years and unfortunately, they never made it but I was holding my own with these guys. I was hitting ball just as far as they were and I don't know how to play defense and I could run and throw I could do everything they can do and I was holding my own so I knew right then that was kind of my calling card that I knew that I belonged. I knew that somehow somewhere. Somebody gave me a chance to show what I had they were going to like what they (00:15:50) saw. That's Kirby Puckett talking with us here at NPR couple years ago Howard Sinker anything that Kirby Puckett there's the said there that surprised (00:15:59) you, you know, I didn't hear the I didn't I didn't hear the tape. Oh, I'm sorry then what would you like to recite it for (00:16:05) me? Well I could but that would bore our listeners No Doubt. What does it usually take to make the Hall of Fame in terms of career (00:16:13) statistics, you know that there's some benchmarks with people look at you know, I mean, if you hit 500 home runs, you're almost certain that you're certain to get in if you win 300 games, but you know, one of the things that's happening now, especially you know with with some players is their careers just aren't long enough to sustain some of the classic numbers. And while the audience was listening to Puckett. I was I was going back and looking at some of his statistics. I mean this is this is someone who, you know had a 318 career batting average and 207 home runs over about an 11-year career and one of the things that you got to remember about that career is that in for in his first two seasons with the twins, he hit all of four home runs. I mean, he really transformed his game over time. And he became an excellent all-around hitter, you know power hitter guy could hit for average a guy who could put down a bunt to get a base hit and he also, you know really worked his way up as a Fielder. I mean, we remember the spectacular catches, but over time he just became a guy who other teams didn't run on and and and they respected the way with the way he played defense. (00:17:31) Hmm. Let's take a call from Pam who's calling from Excelsior with the Kirby Puckett story. Hi (00:17:37) Pam. Hi. I just wanted to tell you this story about he's just such a gracious man. I take care of people and go on outings with people with Alzheimer's and we were at the Big Ten and Hopkins and Ruth fell and Kirby was in the restaurant. He rushed over and picked her up. And what was so awesome about it. Is she just adored Kirby? Market and the sad part was she had Alzheimer's disease, but she just would have been so thrilled if she would have realized who was picking her up. Hmm. It's just we just couldn't get over it. You know, what a kind kind Spirit he is on top of being a great player. (00:18:18) Well, thanks for the call Pam. Yes. You're welcome. Thank you. And we want to remind our other listeners. If you want to say something about Kirby Puckett, give us a call at six five. One two, two seven six thousand 6512276 thousand if you're listening outside the Twin Cities, it's a toll-free call. You can call us at one eight hundred two four to Twenty Eight. Twenty eight one eight hundred 2422828. And of course the sad thing about Kirby Puckett is that it was just five years ago that he announced he was retiring from baseball because of glaucoma and He made that announcement on July 12th 1996 at the Metrodome news conference. Here's what he had to say then (00:19:06) for me. (00:19:08) Kid growing up in Chicago coming out of bad neighborhood never the people thought I'd never do anything. And here I am sitting in front of you guys and only sad thing that I only regret I have about this game at all is that I know I could have done so much better if I could have played. But then again that's 2020 something else could have happened. I mean, who knows but I think that anybody who knows me including my teammates know that every time I put the uniform on. I laugh and joke with the opposition. But when I was trying to get it on I got it on and I gave it everything I had. And that's what I try to tell our young guys. Here's to enjoy life. I mean every day you don't get four hits every day. No, maybe Nabi, you know, maybe Molly, you know, it's a couple guys and get four hits every day. But just because you don't get a hit on me. You can't make a good defensive play or run the bases good or do whatever. I like to thank Carl Pollard and Jerry Bell and everybody for giving me the opportunity to wear this uniform that I have on just like hit her back only one uniform and I'm proud to say that I'm Minnesota Twins, you know how some people say they bleed Yankee Pinstripes or the Dodger blue? Well, whatever you want to call this. I want one uniform in my career. And I'm proud to say that it's a tough day for me because I can't sit in a lot of you and said I'm not going to miss the game because I am I missed it every since March 28th when I haven't been able to perform. Well, I mean, it's been nice for me. I've been a Minnesota twin for this is my 13th year. And I'm proud to say that I've played with with a lot of Pride and a lot of class and integrity when I put the uniform on and that's the part of mr. Most of camaraderie with my teammates and coming in stirring up trouble. My wife really going to give me I can't stir no trouble up at home because my kids are against me, but it's going to be all right, I'm gonna miss TK on me. It's all you guys, but I'm not going anywhere. I'll be here, but I just won't be putting this on anymore. Just the last time you see Kirby Pucket in the Minnesota Twins uniform. And I just want to tell you I love you all so much. And I want to tell all you press people. Thank you very much for being behind me and putting all those good things about me and all those bad things sometimes too, but I don't mind the criticism because you can't take the heat then get out of the kitchen and I'm here to tell you. I stayed in the kitchen all the time because I know how to handle it. I'm not afraid to fail and I've always throw myself out there no matter what It's like I did in game six with struggling. I told you guys to jump on we jumped on and we went. But I've never been afraid to fail. And it's kind of like Ozzie Smith said it's time for another Another Part baseball has been a great part of my life ever since I was 5 years old. I'm 35 years old sitting in front of you now and I'll play baseball ever since I've known for 30 years has been a great part of my life. It really has. But now it's time to close the chapter on this book and baseball and going with the part 2 of my life. It's going to be all right Curry Puck is going to be all right. Don't worry about me. I'll show up and I'm gonna have fun. I'm going to have a smile on my face. The only thing is I won't have this uniform or but you guys can have the memories of what I did when I did have it on. And that's what I want my young teammates to know right now is when you put the uniform on you put it on and you play with with pride and integrity what it can hurt back plays with it play with it and Paul Molitor and Navi and all you guys play with it. Just don't take it for granted because you never know tomorrow's not promised to any of us. Anything could happen to any of us whether we reporters or whatever we may be anything can happen. So enjoy yourself and I love you all. Thank you very much (00:22:45) Kirby pocket announcing his retirement from baseball on July 12 1996 at a press conference at the Metrodome. Apparently not a dry eye in the house except for Kirby Pockets. We're going to talk a lot more about Kirby pocket and Dave Winfield with Howard Sinker from the Star Tribune newspaper and we're going to take more of your calls and comments as well. But first, let's get an update of the latest news from Stephen John. All right, Mike. Thank you about 100 people have been injured in a morning Rush Hour train Collision in Chicago. And the number could rise. It happened when one commuter train rear-ended another on elevated tracks just north of the city's downtown Loop the Collision snarled train traffic stranding hundreds of commuters President Bush is getting the five point five billion dollar Farm Aid package. He says he can support the Senate approved the plan which previously cleared the house after back. Away from a more expensive proposal that faced a veto threat. The Nebraska Supreme Court is changing the way judges in the state decide the death penalty a three-judge panel used to be able to sentence someone to death as long as two of the judges supported it the high court overturned that saying that death sentences can't be handed down unless the panel's decision is unanimous Southeastern Louisiana is on alert for tropical storm. Barry storm warnings are up as Barry churns toward the state from the Gulf of Mexico. The storm has already soaked parts of Florida with up to 14 inches of rain, the code red worm slowed internet traffic in Southeast Asia today a Singapore a singapore-based internet company says things should improve this weekend when many people turn off their personal computers, the worm has already infected computers in the u.s. Twice already. Authorities are warning people to avoid contact with Minnehaha Creek after a construction crew broke a line is sending raw sewage into the water the affected area of the creek extends from Hopkins East to the Mississippi River the Minnesota Pollution Control agency says the fast-moving Creek will probably clean itself out over several days, but people should use caution in the meantime the forecast calling for warmer weather back into the region partly to mostly sunny this afternoon temperatures from the mid 80s to low 90s than tomorrow hot and humid in the west highs from 85 to 95 across the state and it's 81 in Crookston this hour 75 and Grand Marais 83 at st. Cloud 81 in Mankato and the Twin Cities is sunny and 82 degrees Mike that's latest from the MPR News Room. touch em all (00:25:16) Kirby Puckett touch Em All knock it out of the park touch your toes every base put your hope in every heart put your smile on every face. You don't have to look big to Walk Tall touch em all Kirby Puckett touch Em All (00:25:42) Kirby pocket being inducted in the Baseball Hall of Fame this weekend along with his one-time former. Teammate Dave Winfield. We're talking about Kirby Puckett and baseball during this hour of. Midday Our Guest is a sports analyst Howard Sinker who is in Cooperstown Howard. How are you doing? Just fine. What was it about Kirby Puckett. You can't find anybody who didn't like Kirby (00:26:07) Puckett. I just think it was a combination of the way. He played the game and the way his and his personality and just the fact that the he stepped onto a twins team that had some very good players and had a good personality and he just fit right in he could just he could be himself and just just from from day one. I mean, he really was a guy who I mean as he said at the press conference he referred to you know, or when he talked about first breaking and he referred to go. As you know, mr. Kelly, mr. Her beg, mr. Viola and you know, he got over that in about a week. I think I bet but it was just he did things that earned respect because he showed people that he respected them. (00:27:00) Let's take a call from Kyle who's in st. Paul Kyle. Hello and welcome to midday. (00:27:04) Hi. I just wanted to tell a quick story about when I was a kid. I lived over in Bloomington not far from the Met Center and Kirby Pucket at that time lived in an apartment building which is just across the street from the old met stadium and as a kid, I happened upon his apartment building to sell subscriptions to the store and Tribune and knocked on the door and found Kirby Puckett standing there in a towel. He'd just gotten out of the shower and wasn't interested in buying the paper, but he was gracious enough to sign an autograph for me, even though I was in kind of an awkward position one of the things that kind of a lasting memory of the I like to say it was always a friendly and respectful people and and even in a situation like that. I wanted to share that with your audience. (00:27:52) Thanks for doing it. Appreciate it and just remind everybody if you want to say anything about Kirby Puckett, you can give us a call at six five. One two, two seven six thousand 6512276 thousand if you're listening in the Twin Cities anywhere outside the Twin Cities, you can give us a call toll-free 1-800 to four two two eight two eight one eight hundred two four to Twenty Eight Twenty Eight and let's go back to the phones now and take another call from Denise in Fergus Falls. Hi Denise. (00:28:21) Hi, thank you for I'm not a big baseball fan, but I want to commend Kirby Puckett for his outstanding behavior and conduct on the field and what he has done for children in the state of Minnesota and probably in the United States in terms of a role model I think else Athletic achievement is one thing but being a decent respectable person and taking the Limelight for that is probably the greatest achievement a human being can (00:28:54) do. Well, thanks for the call Denise. Yep. Preciate it let's hear a little more about Kirby Puckett. He was always known for being a decent man. (00:29:05) I was saying, mr. To a lot of guys because they kind of paved away from me while I was trying to go. I mean they had already been there and done what I was trying to achieve and so I thought that was just a matter of respect. I wasn't anything wrong with it. I think the guys they laughed at me, but I mean, I was very sincere man in my actions and and before I know it people was coming to the big leagues and calling me mr. Answer. So it's kind of a big one big circle, you know, you start off at the bottom and you work your way up and you work to get respect and and once you respect it people respect you (00:29:32) always Pocket talking about respect and how he treated people and how people treated him. Let's take another caller Dave is on the line from Minneapolis. Hi Dave. (00:29:44) Hi. What I like to say is that when it was screamed over the loudspeakers touch him all Kirby Puckett, then it wasn't just the baseball basis. It was everybody's hearts that he was touching. Thanks. (00:30:00) Well, thanks for the call appreciate it and let me give out the phone numbers one more time, six five. One two, two seven six thousand if you're listening in the Twin Cities and want to talk a little bit about Kirby Puckett this Friday before he's inducted into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame six, five. One two, two seven six thousand anywhere else. You can hear us give us a call toll-free 1-800 to four to Twenty Eight. Twenty eight one eight hundred 242. 2828 Howard Sinker is with us from Cooperstown Howard. It's really hard to find someone who will say something bad about (00:30:33) Pocket yeah, I remember he tried to when I was covering the twins he tried to not talk to me because I had written something about his weight and that lasted all of about 20 minutes and he was back, you know chatting you up just like just like he'd known you for years, you know, there were people who quibbled with his game. There are people who felt like you played too deep in center field there were people who felt that he bunted when he should have been swinging away. But you know, what he would do over time is when he would go into what was for him a slump. He would break it by trying to put down a bunt and getting on base with his speed which is something that a lot of guys who had a lot of home runs just just can't do or couldn't do (00:31:22) a lot of people see Kirby Pucket as a role model. Do you think athletes are still looked at like that? (00:31:29) Oh, I think that it's so hard to put athletes. In the position of role model, and I'm not sure we ever really did if you go back and look at you know the and you know athletes, you know closer to you know, World War II and afterward, you know, what did they do ads for they did ads for cigarettes and liquor, you know, I mean, it really wasn't even a role model thing way back then I mean that they're entertainers if if they're good people like Puckett is that's just incredible bonus instead of you know, just guys who turn on the smile for a camera or for you know group of people when they're either being compensated for it or you know, because they have to do it, you know was as part of keeping up an image. There was no image with bucket. I mean, that's just the way he (00:32:21) is. Okay. Let's hear from another caller. Larry is calling from La Crosse Larry. Hi, welcome to midday. (00:32:29) Thanks for taking my call. I just wanted to call us tell you it's nice. See both both of these individuals going into the Hall of Fame and especially in today's age were a lot of ball players are in it for the money. And these are two guys that just seemed to just love the game probably would have played it whether they were getting paid much or not and growing up as a kid, you know, when you kind of dreamed it you could have maybe done that. It was fun watching somebody that I really enjoyed the game and and two people are real class individuals. Well when film Puckett will be fun to see go in and I hope this is going to something that's going to be televised at you know, when this is going to be on there. (00:33:08) It happens on 12:30 at 12:30 on Sunday. I think it's on one of the e-s-p-n (00:33:14) channels. It's on the ESPN 2 and I guess if you go to the Twins game that day, they'll be showing the induction ceremony immediately afterwards. Okay, that's eastern time. That's our 12:30 or time. You know? Okay. I'm thinking an hour behind for you. Okay. You haven't missed anything in the lab. Nothing's happened in the last 15 minutes. Okay, (00:33:37) that's good to know. Thanks Howard. We appreciate that update. Let's go right back to the phones. Take another call this one from Scott in Hastings. Hi (00:33:46) Scott. Can you hear me? Okay, sure. Can. Yeah. The reason what I'm calling about thing, I remember about pocket I'm kind of of his same age, but the season that he developed glaucoma. I read it was in the mr. Sinkers paper in the Star Tribune. I believe Patrick Roy C interviewed him during the preseason during spring training. It was just a couple of days before he found out he had glaucoma and Pockets comments were typical Kirby Puckett, but he said, you know, I play this game like today's my last day and that you know, you never know what tomorrow brings, you know, I might not be able to play the game tomorrow and and that's just typical Kirby. I know I'm just in awe of the guy and has such tremendous respect for him. And unfortunately, you know, it proved to be real insightful, but that's my memory of him. (00:34:39) Okay. Well, thanks for the call appreciate (00:34:41) it, you know one of the things about and I mean it was a you know, it was a real bad thing that happened to bucket. I mean literally glaucoma was just a really bad break that you know took him out of a career that was still in top form. But you know, we never saw we never saw waning days. We never saw the debate over whether he should be in the field or D aging we never saw, you know him hit 250 and try to decide whether he was going to keep playing. And it's you know, as unfortunate as the end of his career was this is a guy from whom you have nothing but good moments (00:35:18) and some great moments, especially in those World Series specially in the second one. (00:35:22) Yeah. Yeah, and you know you everybody remembers a second World Series and yet in the first one he hit 357 and you know always seem to be on base against the Cardinals. (00:35:33) Yeah, he could he could really get it done in the big games to what does Kirby Puckett do now on a day-to-day basis. Do you have a good sense of that? He's a vice president for the twins. (00:35:45) He does some you know, he does some speaking for the twins the the he will he will do it, you know, pretty much whatever is needed. I mean, he'll spend some time with players who spend some time, you know, someone needs to close a deal on some season tickets pocket can help out there. He is someone who I think has a real good grasp of the game. Understanding it, you know he understands it as naturally as he played it. So I really think he's someone who the twins look to for wisdom and advice, you know, I mean whenever he would talk about the game with reporters, he would make it sound so simple, you know, see ball hit ball see ball catch Ball, but you know, he Kirby really understood the game. It wasn't just going up to the bad going up to bat swinging away. And I think that some of that knowledge, so it is especially valuable, you know in working in a front office capacity (00:36:45) 6512276 thousand the number to call if you'd like to join our conversation about Kirby Puckett, if you're listening in the Twin Cities 6512276 thousand anywhere else you can hear us. It's a toll free call 1-800 to for to 2828. Let's take another caller. This is one is Bob from Bloomington. Hi Bob. (00:37:06) Thank you for taking my call. I have a Worried about what a wonderful person and just to repeat the idea of a number of other callers our grandson who is five years old and as curious as anybody was shopping with his mother and he kind of disappeared from his mother's reach and she was wondering where he was and then she heard him talking to somebody and asking well what happened to your eye he noticed something was funny with one eye and she came around the corner and there was her son talking to Kirby and Kirby picking all the time that was needed to explain about his eye and I don't know that our grandson will remember it but all of our family will remember this is wonderful experience and this wonderful guy. (00:37:56) Thanks for the call Bob. (00:37:57) Oh, that's a great story. That's just I mean and there are a hundred good stories about how about him like that? And and and that's it's not just hitting the ball and catching the ball. Then bring it home World Series. (00:38:11) Right? Right. It's a it's a guy who lives right here in the Twin Cities. Yeah, let's take another caller Sarah from North Oaks. (00:38:19) Yes. Hello. I'd like to tell a story about my French husband and his first experience at a baseball game. He was invited to a Twins game with a bunch of guys and they were all bedding each time a new player came up to bat. They were all all bedding and when it came to my husband's turned the pot had grown quite big and up steps Kirby Puckett and my husband says, oh just my luck was short fat guy and you know of everybody guffawed and were laughing and of course Puckett hit a homerun and bases loaded and so my husband came away with tons of money, but I'd only that he came home from this baseball game and said America is such a great place people came up to me afterwards and we're shaking my hand because Kirby Puckett hit a home run and it was just a nice nice introduction to baseball for him. That was it. Kirby Pucket was responsible for him like in (00:39:08) baseball, okay. Thanks for the call (00:39:10) Sarah. Thank you. I was trying to think of the appropriate reply off Ron Cey and my mind went blank. (00:39:16) I was trying to think when she said her French husband. I wonder if she had an American one somewhere (00:39:20) to be. Yeah, but he didn't like baseball. He can tell a story about meeting Pelé or (00:39:24) something. There you go. We were pretty lucky to be able to watch Kirby Puckett Puckett play weren't (00:39:30) we? Oh, yeah. Yeah. I mean I covered baseball, you know from the time he for the I covered the twins from from a time. He got called up through the 87 season and and it was fun to watch him go from being, you know, a slim. I mean the guy way 285 pounds when he came up. I mean there was no belly there and he was a little you know, relative, you know, singles hitter who brought a lot of speed to the team and batted leadoff and in 1986, probably the the one good thing that Ray Miller did in the year. He managed the twins was moved bucket into the into the number three spot. Tell them, you know your power hitter (00:40:11) now. It worked out pretty (00:40:14) well. It certainly did and it's it was a wonderful career and I mean there can really be no doubt. I mean this is you know, not only the reward of being in the Hall of Fame but making the Hall of Fame of the for the first time he was eligible is just it's a double coup. (00:40:32) Let's hear a little more now from Kirby Pucket (00:40:34) himself people said, what was the difference between 87 and 91 Caribbean? I say, you know what 91 was a great World Series world to 87 was was more special to me because I've never been around a close-knit group of guys. Then we were I think we have waited got to but we are going to Bucks kick together ever since I come up in 1984 and they were getting their butts kicked way before I got here. So the situation where they were losing a hundred plus games, you know, the violas to her back to the guy and he's super Nancy. They know what it was like to lose and I came in 1984 and we almost won our division by going 500 1884 and we end up losing and we didn't make the playoffs when I mean it was it was still it was it was just hard and because I looked around the room and I see We get all this town. Why can't we win and I look at other teams and we had just as much talent as they had but we were just younger we had to just put our time in that's all we had to do is just buy it on time and hopefully get the right combination of guys to kind of help us in 87 we did that. We went and got Dan Gladden 87 and we went out and we got some help, you know, we got Bert Blyleven back from the Indians and me and we could go on bear and gear from Detroit. I'm here here with all of a sudden we're piecing these guys together and I will show you try to make a puzzle. We got these pieces to these final pieces now that we think that's going to make a difference if we get Jeff Reardon from it free agent from the expose us all of a sudden we like. Okay now we got everything we need now. All we need to do is just put it together and that chair just seemed to be a magical year. I mean when you came in this place in the Metrodome, we knew that we were going to win at home and on the road. It was a different story. It's not like we're trying to lose anything with just just just wasn't clicking force on the road, but when you came into the The Metrodome, you know the house of Terah you knew they would our fans screaming in the way. We played the game no matter what the score was. We can be losing 829 in the first second and we knew that somehow we're going to come back and we want like what 50 some games in there. So whatever it was 58 games at home, and that's something that's unheard of but we did that and that allowed us to win because we're so good at home and we're just mediocre on the road. We ended up winning out Division and nobody expected us to do anything and they said well, you never guys never beat Detroit we beat Detroit or there's no way you guys are going to go and beat the Cardinals. We beat the Cardinals in seven. We want to games and I would say we are world champions and and I can't forget that team ever because those guys I mean we genuinely we loved each other. I mean we sacrificed a lot for each other you don't see that these days because the most guys are out there for themselves. It's kind of every man for themselves. It's not like we used to be because we knew in order to win we're gonna be a lot of sacrifices made it was days that I wasn't swinging. Well that I Bun It On My Own TKD give me no bumps on a button on my own because I knew my swing wasn't right. Bunt to get them over and for her back a guy idiot, whatever and you know and them guys and I'm getting RBI. I didn't want any credit, but I was just trying to do anything. I possibly could to help us win. And that's what made us so special. I mean we went out on the road. I mean after the games you see like 14 or 15 of us at the same place eating together, you know table for 15 to 16. You don't do that. Now, you might see one guy one or two one or two guys or maybe one guy over here one. It's all spread out. Where as we were we were together. We we knew we were going to be around each other all Year and we love being around each other not that's why 87 was so (00:43:36) special. Kirby Pucket talking about the first World Series that the twins won the first World Series that he played in 1987 course the twins also one in 1991 with Kirby Puckett Howard Sinker. What do you think the differences were between the 87 and 91 teams or the 87 and 91 World (00:43:58) Series? I don't think anyone sure. You still have the 87 team won the World Series beyond the good home record. They were they were terrible and the road they I think one either only 2 or 3 of 12 games against the Detroit Tigers and then they defeated the Tigers and the in the American League Championship Series, and then they play the played the Cardinals who were a better team and yet in a seven-game series. They wanted four games to three by comparison in 91. That was a good team. That was a solid team top to bottom, you know, any weaknesses the 91 twins had you could cover up for them. With with a couple of strengths and that was more of a classic baseball team. (00:44:44) Hmm. Well, here's my baseball story 87 I was here. You know, I even I think I was at a couple of the World Series games as a reporter 91. I was out of the country and I was in England and it was just really hard to get news about the World Series in England. I try to find a USA Today or something and you keep hearing these little Snippets that they're calling it the best World Series in history and I missed every single game (00:45:11) but you had soccer and Cricket to fall back on (00:45:14) and it just wasn't the same. Let's take another caller. Kareem is standing by in Fargo. Hi Kareem. (00:45:22) Yes, I want to tell you that I lived there in that year, but I moved to Fargo and the year in 96 when pocket came here there was He signed for hours of hours of autographs and they were supposed to quit a certain time. But he stayed and finished everybody had gone through and I think that is one of the greatest people all ever remember. (00:45:52) Thank you. Thanks for the (00:45:53) call Kirby Pucket on those twins Caravans during the offseason was was just an incredible sight. I mean just people I mean, you know 13 people might show up in Olivia to see Gene Larkin and there'd be 13,000 people in st. Cloud if bucket was there hmm. I mean he just it was that kind of draw and you know, especially especially for kids (00:46:16) And did you ever get the sense that you know, he would do something like that stay overtime and signing autographs because he was getting paid for it or working for the team or was that just the way he treated (00:46:27) people, you know, don't get the idea that he'll sign autographs 24/7 and and give everybody all the time they need whenever all the time they want went at whim but he understood that when he was representing the twins that he was a special player that he was somebody who people came to see they came to see him play baseball, they'd come to see him eat lunch or dinner when he was on tour. He knew that he had a special obligation and and he wasn't shy about fulfilling (00:46:57) it. And there was always something with Kirby Pucket and (00:47:01) kids. Yeah, I was on the North Shore in 1987 when the Twins were in Milwaukee and he had that weekend where he had 10 hits. Right? And we were at a restaurant along 61 and all of a sudden you heard from the other side of the restaurant the three-year-old boy all of a sudden you hear you hear about Casey imitation, you know Kirby Puckett and it says high-pitched squeal from a little kid and it just cracked up the whole place people did everything but applaud (00:47:34) And he still has that. Oh, he said that yet. (00:47:37) He still has even with you know, kids like my son never really saw him play but you know, he's a you know, he's a guy who he can relate to. Hmm. (00:47:49) Let's take another caller. Susan is on the line from Duluth. Hi Susan. (00:47:54) Hello as a teacher. There are not many sports figures that I encourage my students to follow and I can tell you that Kirby Puckett is one to this day. I would trust telling any student of mine to emulate him. I said wonderful things for my kids. (00:48:14) Okay. Well, thanks for the call. And let's take one more caller Bud from Rochester. Hello Bud. (00:48:22) Hello. Yes. I was working at IBM Sports banquet 1988 spring and I just walked into this room and Kirby was sitting there with some Personnel from IBM when the Twins and he saw me he says do I know you and I said, no, but I know you and then I sat down to eat a little lunch beside him and he was going through his speech and his wife says what's the matter? He says, I don't like to give speeches and she said I thought you liked to go speeches. He said if I had to give speeches for a living honey you and be wearing that for you got on and my wife and I both cried when he retired. (00:48:58) Yeah. Well, thanks for the call Bud. Okay, appreciate it and one more caller Grace and st. Paul. Hi Grace. Hi. I moved back to (00:49:08) Minnesota and 87 a couple days before the big parade for for the game and had three little kids and what a To see day that was to come back to Minnesota and over the years we run into him up at the grocery store with his daughter and he's just the most pleasant person to be around. He's kind and always just an exceptional human being proud to say he's a twin. (00:49:36) Okay. Thanks for the (00:49:37) call. You just don't imagine Daunte Culpepper or Kevin Garnett in the produce aisle, you know the way you you can imagine pocket doing that with his kids. (00:49:47) Well, of course as we mentioned glaucoma ended Kirby Buckets career in 1996 a few years later. He reflected on on the end of his career during an interview with Minnesota Public Radio. I (00:49:57) mean, it wasn't a problem. Of course. I can't I got short of my goal but you know things happen for a reason and I'm not upset about it. I mean, I still got to achieve more and I'll take my numbers in 12 years and put them up against anybody's it's the highest achievement as you can possibly get as a as an athlete's going to a baseball athletes going to the Baseball Hall of Fame. That is not what I play for I play because I love the game and I've always played I didn't play for the love of money or anything. I played because I love the game of baseball since I was five years old. This is what I want to do. And this is what I loved, of course, not the Hall of Fame because not going to my doing 2000-2001 whenever it is and they tell me that I'm into the Hall of Fame and that's good. And I mean, I'm happy. That's great. But never thought I'd do that. But if they don't call me and then I don't make it then I still think that my life has been great. I mean, I never worry about things. I can't control I've done everything. I possibly could in 12 years now so to the Time reporters and all these guys to kind of cast their votes and if they want me to be in I'll be in if they don't then I want but as far as I'm concerned, hopefully that day will come but that's not the reason that I played the game the way that I did I play because I love the game and I wanted the game to thrive and and go on and be the greatest game in the world that it is. I played because that is all that I grew up playing was baseball and to meet I was special so off they come calling great if they don't that's great, too. (00:51:16) And of course they did come calling Kirby Puckett was elected to the Hall of Fame will be inducted during ceremonies in Cooperstown in New York on Sunday and Howard Sinker any final thoughts. You want to give us about Kirby Pucket as you get ready to watch him go into the Hall of Fame. (00:51:30) I'm just trying to imagine what it would have been like with the questions would have been if he hadn't made it this year. It's just such a fitting. It's just such a fitting thing that he's going in that he's going in the same weekend as the same day as Dave Winfield. It's a great weekend for baseball in the Twin Cities. And on top of it all the twins are in a pennant (00:51:49) race, right? And what do you think people will think about in the future when they remember Kirby Puckett maybe after we're all gone. (00:51:58) Oh, I think more than anything else the images from the 1991 World Series in catching the ball up against the fence him hitting the home run in game six that brought the twins into game seven those just I mean not only were those moments where he did great things as a player but he looked like he enjoyed them so much and that that was what his game was. It was just enjoying it was just the enjoyment and that made him so special (00:52:26) Howard Sinker. Thanks so much for being with us (00:52:28) today. No problem. Thank you for having me (00:52:30) Howard Sinker is midday sports analyst in his real job. He's a state news editor at the Star Tribune newspaper. We want to thank all of you who called in with your comments about Kirby Pucket as well Kirby Puckett, of course along with Dave Winfield going into the Major League Baseball. Hall of Fame on Sunday at 12:30 Central Time in Cooperstown And we want to tell you. Midday is produced by Sarah Mayer care a fig and shoe is assistant producer our engineer. This week was Steve Griffith. I'm Mike Mulcahy and I'll pass along the news to you that Gary eichten will be back in this chair on Monday. (00:53:08) Where are all the actors at The Fringe where are all the directors at The Fringe where are all the dancers and filmmakers at The Fringe perhaps you should go to but not before tuning in word-of-mouth tonight at (00:53:21) six. You're listening to Minnesota Public Radio. It's sunny 82 degrees at KN o WF M 91.1 Minneapolis Saint Paul. You're also listening to KN CM Appleton 88.5 FM Twin Cities weather for this afternoon. Mostly sunny a high near 92 night. Mostly clear a low near 70 degrees tomorrow hot humid and mostly sunny a high right around 92.


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