We Minnesotans are a stoic breed. It takes a lot to get us really wound up, and when we’ve been hurt, we tend not to show it. We just get really, really polite, and then don’t do much talking beyond the necessities of social decorum.
The outpouring of emotion around this state over the last couple of days has been truly overwhelming. I think, in the years since Kirby disappeared from the limelight, when his name didn’t come up in daily conversation much, many of us had forgotten just how much he meant to us. Or, if we didn’t forget, maybe we chose not to think about it, so deep was our disappointment in finding out that our hero was, after all, human and flawed.
But the film clips and the sound bites have brought it all back. Reading through the comments on Batgirl’s post from yesterday, people are remembering where they were, what they were doing, how old they were when they watched the ’91 World Series, or met Kirby at spring training, or got his autograph at Twins Fest. They’re remembering that part of themselves that once believed in heroes. I suspect I’m not the only one who is surprised at how powerful those returning emotions have been.
Demigoddess the Elder was only a few days old during the 1991 World Series. We covered her with a Homer Hanky in her bassinet as we watched the games on TV. By the time she was old enough to understand much about baseball, the Kirby we had known was gone.
Both my girls were visibly upset when we heard that Kirby had died, but not having lived it, I know they won’t ever fully appreciate what Kirby Puckett once meant to the people of Minnesota. I still don't think I fully understand it myself. But I think maybe I’ll take them down to the Dome tonight. I’d like them to see the things that people have left there. Maybe we’ll add a little something of our own to the memorial.
I hope, wherever he is, Kirby can feel all of this. I hope he knows that, in spite of everything, he is so loved.