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Continued: Goodbye, Kirby

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Last update: March 6, 2006 - 10:57 PM

In March 2002, a woman filed an order for protection against Tonya Puckett, alleging that Tonya had threatened to kill her over an alleged affair with Kirby.

That month, a St. Louis Park woman asked for protection from Kirby Puckett, saying in court documents that she had an 18-year relationship with him and that he had shoved her in his Bloomington condominium.

Then, in September 2002, Puckett was involved in a very public incident at Redstone American Grill in Eden Prairie. That time, a woman accused Puckett of dragging her into a restroom and grabbing her breast.

After a nine-day trial, a jury ruled Puckett not guilty of false imprisonment, fifth-degree criminal sexual conduct and fifth-degree assault.

He relinquished his role as Twins executive vice president. The team, which retired Puckett's jersey in 1997, tried maintaining ties to him, but he continued to withdraw.

When friends saw him, they grew increasingly concerned about the weight he was putting on his short frame, with estimates that he was well beyond 300 pounds.

But for those who saw him in Arizona at Harmon Killebrew's charity golf tournament in November, there was renewed hope. Puckett had spoken of taking better care of himself. Recently, there was news that he planned to remarry in June.

And there was always appreciation of him as a ballplayer and teammate.

"He made me a better coach," Crowley said. "He made Tom Kelly probably a better manager. He made the mediocre hitters on that team probably a little better. He was a pleasure. He really was."

Puckett would have turned 46 on March 14. He is survived by two children, Catherine and Kirby Jr., from his marriage to Tonya.

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