Tag:Kirby Puckett
Posted on: July 12, 2010 10:10 pm

Torii Hunter: Babies yes, Rally Monkey not yet

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- As the lone Angels' position player on the American League team, outfielder Torii Hunter has emerged as the unofficial All-Star host.

It's a job he'll handle willingly

"FanFest, a couple of things with TV stations, autograph signings, talking to kids, kissing babies ... it's going to be fun," Hunter said, wide grin crossing his face.

So far, though, no appearances with the Rally Monkey.

"I'm actually scared of the Monkey," Hunter joked. "He's pretty aggressive. When he's in a bad mood, he'll actually scratch you."

Hunter was bitterly disappointed that he had to bow out of last year's game in St. Louis with a groin injury. As a kid growing up in Arkansas, Hunter was a huge Cardinals fan. He loved Ozzie Smith and Vince Coleman. To a degree, last year's game in St. Louis was personal with him, given the ties to his boyhood memories.

So he's determined to enjoy everything about this year's game. Three of his children were trailing around with him Monday, and Hunter said he was showing them the ropes -- up to and including "kissing babies."

Part of it is that Hunter naturally is a friendly, outgoing guy who simply enjoys people.

Part of it is that he learned from another gregarious legend as he was coming up as a kid in the Minnesota Twins' system.

"I used to watch Kirby Puckett all the time," Hunter said. "He was always smiling and talking to people. Whenever people needed him, media, vendors, whoever, he talked to them. I watched that.

"That's why I always talk. That's why, if you come to me and need something, I'll say yes. I don't beg for it, but if you've got a kid coming up. ..."

And if that kid is unsure of himself, or needs a good influence ... Hunter is there.


Posted on: April 12, 2010 3:48 pm
Edited on: April 12, 2010 3:54 pm

Sad that Puckett not around to see new park

MINNEAPOLIS -- The one obvious absence as the Twins christen their new outdoor ballpark this afternoon is the late Kirby Puckett, the all-time most popular Twin before hometown hero Joe Mauer's arrival.

Boston slugger David Ortiz, the former Twin who broke into the majors in 19976, spoke eloquently about Puckett and said he thought a lot about the Hall of Famer as he was driving to Target Field on Monday.

"All I can remember when you talk about those World Series was Kirby, man," Ortiz said as the Red Sox were hitting Monday afternoon. "Everything he did, how great he was. How good he was to young players."

Though Ortiz never played with Puckett, who retired because of an eye damaged by glaucoma in 1996, Puckett was still around the Twins as Ortiz got his feet on the ground.

"He was so cool to me," Ortiz said. "It was hard to see him go. I wasn't expecting that at all. I was talking to my boy about it yesterday and today, how great he was to this organization, to the Twins.

"That's one of the main reasons I wear No. 34, because of him. I thought about him a lot today."

Ortiz, by the way, already was finding life different at the new Twins' stadium: He got lost traveling to the ballpark. Looking for the loading dock, he finally had his driver drop him at Gate 29 (Rod Carew's old number), which is one of the main stadium entrances.

Several early-bird fans got a big surprise when they saw him, and Ortiz said he signed several autographs as he was circling the stadium looking for the entrance.

Posted on: April 12, 2010 12:44 pm

Twins vs. Mother Nature: Looks like Twins win?

MINNEAPOLIS -- The countdown has begun in earnest, with hundreds of fans waiting outside the gates of Minnesota's beautiful downtown and the early verdict is ... it is a gorgeous day for an outdoor baseball game in Minnesota.

Now, the skies are a bit overcast and there's still a chance of rain this afternoon, but it's right around 70 degrees and perfect. It's shirt-sleeve weather, not jacket weather.

The Red Sox are here, the Twins are about to start batting practice and if we can just keep the rain away, it is going to be one memorable afternoon here at Target Field. First pitch: 3:10 CDT. Right now, they're unveiling the Kirby Puckett statue outside the park with dignitaries, including Hall of Famer Rod Carew, at the ceremony.

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