Tuesday, March 07, 2006

One Recommendation and One Commendation


Internet friend and fellow-blogger, Pastor Chip Frontz, is integrating the Internet into his catechetical ministry: He has established a blog to accompany a Lenten series that he is teaching on the Ten Commandments. He will be posting here. Check it out; join in the fun; challenge him; give his effort a bicoastal effect.

Blessed Lent to you, Chip. And may Lent be a time of renewal and reconciliation for all who pass by this blog.


A -- perhaps, the -- baseball legend in Minnesota (and in the country, I suspect) and one of my personal heroes has died an untimely death. Kirby Puckett, who played his entire career of 12 years for the Minnesota Twins and established himself as a hero for millions of us of every age, died yesterday of a massive stroke. He was 45 (not as the Twins information throughout his playing career would have suggested, 44). If the governor doesn't send flags to half-mast, there is something wrong. He will be missed and is mourned by all.

He came to the Twins from a day job in Chicago, having grown up in the housing projects and been unable to secure a college scholarship. He immediately established himself as a top-tier player by his playing and his playing -- that is, by his skill and by the infectious joy he manifested in playing the game. His stubby little figure was easy to doubt: How could those short legs and that husky torso (not to mention his round butt -- his "Puckett Pack" as he called it) get the job done. But they did -- with hits, home runs (remember that 11th-inning, 6th game of the World Series homerun?), gravity-defying catches.

He played his entire career here. He was our favorite son, our golden boy (dangerous and ironic wordplay, there). I understand that he turned down offers to leave the Twins that would have netted him $26 million more than he made by staying put. But he stayed loyal to the Twins.

And always there was the sweet human being and humanitarian at work and play. He was "there" for people -- kids, old-timers, his teammates: a smile, encouraging and cautionary words, time.

Reports are that Kirby became something less than heroic in his last few years. I suspect that after glaucoma brought his career to a screeching and painful halt (but with what grace he handled his retirement!), that he couldn't quite find himself. And that manifested itself in less-than-attractive behavior (if reports are true).

But he will be remembered -- as is appropriate -- for the phenomenal and charmed place he established in the hearts of the people of this state. And here I mean in my heart.

Rest eternal, grant him, O Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon him. Amen.

1 comment:

Thomas Adams said...

Thank you, Dwight, for a touching post about Kirby, a great hero of mine as well. I grew up in Eau Claire (Wis.), and I remember that he was one of the few players that everybody admired (even Brewers fans loved him). The mere mention of his name would bring smiles because he played the game with such enthusiasm and delight. The memory of his home run in Game 6 is unforgettable - he ran around the bases, waving his arms and screaming with pure joy. That moment is priceless.

You're correct that he went downhill after retiring, and I write about that on my blog. But the Kirby we saw on the field was not faking it - he was the real deal, and we're not likely to see his kind again.