I remember the first time I saw him...I had never heard of him before, but I was watching a White Sox game (I know, but the Cubs weren't on that night) in 1984 (or was it 1985?), and I can still remember the telecast announcers Ken Harrelson and Tom Paciorek introducing him...I believe it was the first time either of them had seen him as well, and they were making light of his name, and how perfect a baseball name it was...
Meeting Kirby (Cooperstown 2005)
Kirby died only a few short months after I met him for the first time, which was back in July 2005 at the HOF Induction Weekend in Cooperstown, New York. And when I say that I met him, all I mean is that I paid to stand in line for his autograph, I got to say hi, that I loved watching him play, and then said 'thank you' for the signature. Folks were asked not to take his picture, on Kirby's request, as I guess he was no longer proud of his hugely rotund stature. He was not interested in chatting it up with the fans, but he wasn't rude, either. From everything that you heard over the past few years, and that I was then able to see in front of me, it sure seemed to me that the real Kirby might have passed away quite some time ago...shortly after his eyesight quit on him. This man was truly robbed of his gifts, and unfortunately, we have since been robbed of his company.
Here's the ball that he signed for me that day in 2005.
My collection of Kirby Puckett items includes the ball above, as well as several autographed cards from the 2005 Upper Deck HOF issue, many cards (some pictured below), and one item that is very important to me, which is pictured here, one of his baseball bats. This model was used in the 1986-1989 time frame, and has been authenticated and graded as a GU-7 by PSA. It is cracked through the handle, has his characteristic tape and pine tar work along the handle, and his number markings on the handle. You can see dried grass blades stuck in the pine tar, as well as scuff marks from baseball contact, his spikes, as well the bat racks and donuts that it came into contact with over the time of its significant use. A really fun piece of his history.