Daily Archives: March 14, 2014

Kirby Puckett’s Iconic 1984 Fleer Update Rookie Baseball Card

Kirby Puckett’s Iconic 1984 Fleer Update Rookie Baseball Card

There are very few baseball cards that hold the same feeling in my heart today like they did when I was a young collector back in the mid-1980’s.

I guess that a lot of that has to do with the fallen stars that debuted around that time – From Clemens to Gooden to Bonds, and the list goes on…

But, there are a few cards that still make my draw drop from that time period – and this is one of them:

This is Kirby’s lone release from 1984 – making it his major-brand debut.  From the 1984 Fleer Update set, this card was not a common one to have in your collection.  In fact, I never knew anyone that owned one…

Maybe because of the scarcity, maybe because of the cost, and most certainly because the card could only be found in factory sets that also consisted of two other high profile rookie cards in Roger Clemens and Dwight Gooden, this card was more of a dream than a reality for many collectors.

Even on Ebay today, you can usually find no more than a dozen of these running at any one time.  But, for his 1985 baseball cards, you typically find no less than 250.

WHOA!!!

Kirby Puckett & The 2001 Baseball Hall Of Fame Class

Kirby Puckett & The 2001 Baseball Hall Of Fame Class

Kirby Puckett was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.

Of the 515 votes that were cast in 2001, Puckett earned 423 votes, good for a 82.1% clip.

He was elected into Cooperstown with fellow American League outfielder Dave Winfield, who also reached the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.

Kirby Puckett: What Could Have Been…

Kirby Puckett: What Could Have Been…

Of all of the baseball stars to join the league in the mid 1980’s, I don’t know if anyone got more enjoyment out of playing a kid’s game than Puckett.  He played the game with heart and determination which made it very enjoyable to watch him take the field.

Unfortunately, we only got to watch Kirby play for 12 seasons.  First, due to Glaucoma, Kirby was forced to retire after the 1995 season as he lost vision in one of his eyes.  And just a few years later, Puckett passed away due to complications brought on by a stroke.  Puckett was the first player that I cheered for as a kid that passed away at an age when he could have still been a star in the game.  Sadly, this is life and you can never predict when these things will happen.  Besides leaving behind a family and team that loved(and still loves) him, Kirby was embraced by the city of Minneapolis and is still a celebrity for them today.

What I would like to try to do, besides honoring him, is estimate what more Kirby could have done as a major leaguer if he had played another handful(let’s say 6, making him 40 when he would have retired) of seasons.  Taking nothing away from the incredible 12 years he gave his team and fans, I do feel a little ‘short-changed’ by his early exit from the game and really wonder what more he could have done.

First, for the accolades…  Puckett was a 10-time All-Star, so you have to believe that he would have had another 3-4 appearances in the all-star game if he played another 6 years.  Kirby won 6 Gold Gloves in his career, but none in the final 3 years.  It is unlikely that he would have won any more.  Puckett finished in the Top 7 for the MVP award 7 times over 12 years.  At some point, it seems fair to say that he would have been awarded the MVP.

Ok, now for the stats.  After 12 seasons Kirby Puckett had 2,304 hits, averaging 192 hits a year.  6 more years at his average and he would have easily eclipsed the 3,000 hit milestone, coming very close to 3,500.  Puckett also had 207 home runs while averaging 17 a year.  6 more years at this pace and he would have eclipsed 300 career home runs.  Kirby finished his career with a batting average of .318.  It is safe to say that if he played another 6 years, he would have still finished his playing days with a career batting average well over .300.

When you think about the guys from the mid-80’s that put up similar numbers to these, it’s fair to say that Kirby Puckett belongs with that same group.  Tony Gwynn, Wade Boggs, Don Mattingly, Ryne Sandberg, and many others.  But the big difference is that Kirby’s game was more well-rounded.  His home run totals and defensive ability may actually put him on a caliber above these guys.

Your thoughts on this?  Where does Puckett rank in your eyes against the other stars from that 1980’s that have joined him in Cooperstown??

Kirby Puckett & Your 1987 And 1991 World Series Championship Winning Minnesota Twins

Kirby Puckett & Your 1987 And 1991 World Series Championship Winning Minnesota Twins

Kirby Puckett and his Minnesota Twins teammates made the most of their post-season appearances, that is for certain.

Making the playoffs just twice during the 12-season span of Kirby’s career, the Twins captured the prize in each nail-biting contest!!

And Kirby was at the center of it all!!!  In 14 World series games, Kirby amassed a batting average of .308.  He collected 7 RBI while scoring 9 runs in those games – and most importantly, he was on the winning side of both match-ups when it was all done.

Kirby Puckett – Your 1989 American League Batting Champion

Kirby Puckett – Your 1989 American League Batting Champion

The title says it all – Kirby Puckett was the American League batting champion at the completion of the 1989 baseball season.

And while the numbers that he put up in ’89 were not the best of his career, they are still uber-impressive.

The stats: 215 hits (league leader) and a .339 batting average.

Kirby Puckett Captured 6 Silver Slugger Trophies

Kirby Puckett Captured 6 Silver Slugger Trophies

The Silver Slugger award is given to the best hitters from each league by position.  And while the official calculation has never been ‘offered’ up as to how the award is decided upon, the prize usually goes to the most well-rounded hitters in the sport.

Kirby Puckett won six Silver Slugger awards for being one of the three best hitting outfielders in the American League.

What is most impressive about this is that the six awards did not come in six straight years.  Kirby brought home the trophy during the ’86, ’87, ’88, ’89, ’92, and ’94 baseball seasons.

Kirby was a worker – always trying to stay or get back to the top – just the kind of quality that this baseball fan respects the most!!!

Kirby Puckett Won 6 Gold Glove Awards!!!

Kirby Puckett Won 6 Gold Glove Awards!!!

While he may not look like it, Kirby Puckett was a supreme defender.

His ability to get to the ball quickly when hit into the outfield gave him an advantage that many others did not have.  Kirby was always quick on his feet, and that speed that he had helped him make plays and raise his level of defense to elite status.

In 12 major league seasons, Kirby captured the Gold Glove six times.

He compiled a career fielding percentage of .989 during his playing days while committing just 51 errors in 7,831 games.

Kirby Puckett Is A 10-Time All-Star

Kirby Puckett Is A 10-Time All-Star

Kirby Puckett’s major league baseball career spanned twelve seasons.  He never showed any kind of struggles adjusting to the big league game or competition that he faced on a nightly basis.

At just 26 years of age, and in his third season, Kirby made his first All-Star team.  That selection would mark the start of a ten-year run as an American Leageu All-Star.

From 1986-1995, Kirby Puckett was a regular fixture in the mid-summer classic.

Happy Birthday Kirby Puckett!!!!

Happy Birthday Kirby Puckett!!!!

Today is Kirby Puckett’s birthday.  So, at ’30-YOC’, we will celebrate and honor Kirby’s fantastic career with a series of posts that celebrates the baseball player that captured the nation during the 1980’s and 1990’s.

Stay tuned, as it will be a celebration!!!

Happy Birthday Mr. Puckett!

Hall Of Fame Debate: Will ‘The 500 Home Run Club’ Ever Guarantee Enshrinement Into Cooperstown Again?

Hall Of Fame Debate: Will ‘The 500 Home Run Club’  Ever Guarantee Enshrinement Into Cooperstown Again?

For a good stretch of baseball’s grand history, ‘The 500 Home Runs Club’ was full of elite and immortal players that defined the role of run producer and slugger.  Sure, some of the players were quite a bit more than that, but all of them were responsible for driving in a tremendous amount of runs via the long ball.

Then, the steroid era hit.  And pretty soon, new members of the once-elite club were springing up all over the place.  And quite often.  The one-time uber-elite group was getting cloudy and crowded.  All of a sudden, ‘The 500 HR Club’ began to look a little different.  And being in the club did not hold the same level of esteem as it once did.

Today, with the game ‘cleaned up’, can that perception change?  Will the ‘500 Home Runs Club’ once again define offensive greatness?

There are only three eligible members of the ‘500 HR Club’ that have not been inducted into Cooperstown.  And they have all been linked to steroids – Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, and Rafael Palmeiro.  We also have two future possible electees that have been linked to steroids and climbed past 500 home runs – Gary Sheffield and Manny Ramirez.  I am purposely keeping Alex Rodriguez’s name out of the conversation as he is still considered to be ‘active’.

But, after that, are we in the clear?

Frank Thomas’ 2014 Hall of Fame election certainly helps.  And the future election of Ken Griffey, Jr. adds some serious weight to the ‘Club’ again.  And while I may not be his biggest supporter, Jim Thome’s 600+ home runs is certainly going to add some gusto to the club as well when he gets electecd into the Hall of Fame.

3-Time MVP, Albert Pujols is on his way.  Adam Dunn is going to get there.  World Series MVP, David Ortiz has a solid chance too.

So, my question tonight is this – Can the ‘500 Home Runs Club’ once again be what it once was???

500 home run club