On May 25, 1997 The Minnesota Twins retired the number 34, which belonged to the beloved Kirby “Puck” Punkett.
The ceremony was a recollection of his 12 seasons with the Twins that included 10 All-Star games with a small side of two World Series rings and Rookie of the Year award.
The end of Punkett’s retirement started in a sea of tears in March of 1998. This was such an iconic moment that his teammates were even let into the press conference. The question and answer session was broadcast live across the state of Minnesota where thousands of viewers who were not only Twins fans but there were also many people who were fans of Punkett himself. His career ended prematurely when he was hit in the jaw by a pitch thrown by Dennis Martinez. The team thought he would be able to recover from the jaw injury but in the end they were wrong. The ball was thrown so hard that his jaw broke and made him blind in the right eye. He was placed on the disabled list in 1996 and never recovered his sight which eventually forced his early retirement at the age of 35.
Punkett was a fan favorite and a baseball player who had a tendency to keep his numbers up which lead to his Baseball Hall of Fame induction in 2001. He died after suffering a stroke in March of 2006.
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