Later in the same
conversation he said, "What am I supposed to do, stop living? I ain't even
had a midlife crisis yet."
was to come. In 2001, the year Puckett became a first-ballot Hall of Famer, his
wife told police he had threatened her life. No charges were filed, but the
couple divorced. In '02 Puckett was charged with false imprisonment, criminal
sexual conduct and assault after a woman accused him of forcibly groping her in
a restaurant men's room. He was acquitted, but Puckett seemed incapable of
carrying this baggage, and he disappeared from Minnesota.
Minnesotans can't carry the baggage either. Reading the news of his death,
local anchors lost their composure. When I proposed to my wife four years ago,
I did so in the number 34 Twins throwback jersey she'd given me that day. When
Puckett died, my e-mail in-box filled with commiserations and condolences.
I once asked
Puckett to name the single thing he'd be remembered for, and he instantly
answered, "Game 6."
home run in the 11th inning of the penultimate game of the '91 World Series
made my skin pebble like a plucked chicken's. Late that Saturday night I stood
at his locker--Game 7 just 19 hours away--when a drained Puckett was asked if
he'd ever be able to sleep that night.
His reply still
gives me chills: "I'll sleep when I'm dead."
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