Herald Journal Columns
March 20, 2006, Herald Journal

Kirby Puckett restores pride

I have a reason to appreciate Kirby Puckett that has nothing to do with baseball.

Before I was married my name was Rosalind Puckett. My father’s family came to America in 1664 and settled in Henrico County, Va., the area just north of what is now Richmond. Another one of my Puckett ancestors fought in the American Revolution.

Although the first Pucketts owned slaves, subsequent generations became Quakers. So by the time the Civil War started, many of the Pucketts were abolitionists and early supporters of Abraham Lincoln, the Republican Party, and abolishing slavery.

The Pucketts worked their way west, and even rode in a covered wagon on the Oregon Trail. By the time my dad was born, most of the Pucketts lived in the Iowa/Missouri area. My dad came from a big family. When he became an adult, the Pucketts scattered across the United States.

I had good reason to be proud of the Puckett name. The Pucketts have been in this country for a long time and are entwined in US history.

But then came junior high school. Like most adolescents I was touchy and overly sensitive.

My classmates and I often had to sit in rows in alphabetical order. I sat next to a boy named Rodney Rucker. My classmates thought it was absolutely hilarious that our names rhymed with an unmentionable word. We got teased about it all the way through high school.

When I got married and became a Kohls I was happy to have a name that didn’t rhyme with anything obscene.

Along came Kirby Puckett. Kirby Puckett was a star, even more so than Gary Puckett and the Union Gap, a singer from the late ‘60s. No one ever mentioned or implied then that “Puckett” rhymed with an unmentionable word. Sometimes he was even called “Puck” for short. I loved it.

My dad was an avid baseball player. He watched baseball on TV all the time so I know he saw Kirby Puckett play. He maybe saw him play in a ballpark in Florida.

My dad died in May 1991, a few months before the World Series when Kirby Puckett’s star really shined. I wish he could have seen it. It would have been the ultimate fantasy, to have someone share your name and be such a great baseball player.

Thank you, Kirby, for restoring the shine to the Puckett name for me.

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