It's a story told many times, but it never gets old.
The truly great 1991 World Series between the Atlanta Braves and the Minnesota Twins is indelibly linked to the heroics of Kirby Puckett, who – besides his leaping catch in front of the Metrodome's Plexiglass in center field and his famous walk-off homer in the 11th inning – literally carried the team to victory almost single-handedly to force a Game 7.
It's likely the greatest performance by any athlete in the history of the Metrodome. Except for the following night. But that's another story for another installment.
First, besides the aforementioned heroics, let's take a look at Puckett's stat line from that Saturday night on October 26, 1991, an 11-inning humdinger that lasted nearly four hours before the Twins topped the Braves 4-3:
Puck went 3-4 at the plate, including a single and a triple in addition to the home run. He also had a sacrifice fly that scored one, meaning he batted in three of the Twins' four runs – and was a double shy of hitting for the cycle.
(Right fielder Shane Mack knocked in the other run.)
In the bottom of the 1st, Puckett tripled in Chuck Knoblauch, then Mack drove in Puckett off Atlanta starter Steve Avery.
Atlanta was knocking starter Scott Erickson around, but Puckett did this in the 3rd inning:
Atlanta finally got a hold of Erickson in the 5th inning, with a two-run homer by Terry Pendleton.
The Twins responded in the bottom of the frame by bringing in Dan Gladden on a sacrifice fly.
In the 7th inning, the Braves knotted it at 3-3 when Ron Gant beat out what looked to be a double play, scoring Mark Lemke.
And that's where the score remained until the 11th, setting the stage for this:
That was the Twins' announcer John Gordon with the call, but those watching on television got one of the most famous home run calls by Jack Buck: "And ... We'll see you tomorrow night!":
Where does the game rank in the pantheon of great baseball moments? Pretty high, according to many, with some people maintaining to this day that the 1991 World Series was the greatest ever played. (Though purists scoff at that darn Dome.)
ESPN has the entire series listed as one of the most memorable sports moments of the last 25 years.
ESPN also ranked the 1991 series as the greatest ever played.
As for that catch, ESPN the magazine published this quote in 2006 after Puckett died:
"'I thought it was gone,' Puckett said. But Puckett, who was 5-foot-8, scaled the Plexiglas fence in left-center and caught it – making one of the greatest catches in World Series history."
Bleacher Report, for instance, says Puckett's walk-off is No. 8 in the greatest MLB postseason moments.
SB Nation says the 1991 Game 6 is the 10th greatest World Series game ever played. (Look a little higher up for Game 7.)
Top Tenz says Puckett's home run is the fifth greatest in Series history.
In 2009, Charley Walters of the Pioneer Press scooped what was long thought to be true: Puckett called the shot before he got to the plate.
Here's a nice recollection of the game and Puckett by his fellow ball players, featuring a recounting by the man himself:
So, we'll leave the late Kirby Puckett with the last words. Except this: Thanks for the Metrodome memories, Puck.