Card of the Week - 1991 Upper Deck #544 Kirby Puckett

1991 was a year of change for me. It included my final year of elementary school and my first year of middle school. For any twelve or thirteen-year-old, they were perilous times. Our family lived in a small rural southwestern Missouri town that had a Tyson factory and a rising software tech company.

The year itself was notable in my life because our family had to relocate from the town we had lived in for five years to the city of Minneapolis. I went from attending a small church of around 100 people to a large megachurch of over 2000 on a Sunday morning. My body began to change as I entered adolescence in my thirteenth year. Pretty much everything changed for me that year. 

It was also in that year when a player named Kirby Puckett came onto my radar. With our family moving to Minneapolis we began to take an interest in the Twins and their run in playoffs. Going from the worst team to the best team in the AL was quite a feat, and they faced the pitching juggernaut of the NL worst to first, Atlanta Braves. 

The Series may be the best World Series ever played. Game 6 came down to one play. The bottom of the eleventh inning. Kirby Puckett smashed it over the plexiglass wall in left-center field and Jack Buck famously declared, “and we’ll see you tomorrow night.” I remember staying up watching the game, the whole game. That home run, for me, was the most iconic hit in my entire life. 

The Twins went on to win the Series in Game Seven after an epic pitching duel between John Smoltz and Jack Morris that also went into extra innings. 

This card brings that year back to me in vivid ways. It was a hard year with so much transition and change. It was difficult to hear my father lost his job. The security and stability we had begun to feel with five years in Missouri were dashed with another relocation; this time to a darker, colder, bigger city.

Yet, with all the change, this card reminds me of the win; the smile; the joy. The Twins won the Series, and God’s happy providence of relocating my family to that same city was his means of shaping and directing my life in new ways. I have no idea where I would be at today had we stayed in SW Missouri. I can speculate that perhaps I would not be in ministry, not because of the call in my life, but because of the people that God used in Minnesota to get me to think about that trajectory. 

Puckett's smile was contagious. His love for the game was huge. That walk-off home run in the bottom of the eleventh inning of Game Six described my 1991. What was a hardship, turned out to be a great good in my life and in my heart.