Previous Page 3 of 6 Next

Continued: After the game: The Kirby Puckett we never knew

• • •

In 1986, Puckett hit nine home runs and batted .389 in April to earn American League player of the month honors. The numbers signaled his evolution at the plate; the previous season, he hit only four home runs in 691 at-bats. "You never see me down," he said. "I'm always a person that says, 'If things aren't going my way now, hey, they'll change.' "

• • •

Without baseball, Puckett filled his nights by inviting friends to his home in Edina to throw back the beers and tell stories into the wee hours.

Sometimes they played poker --Tonya and her mother played, too. And Puckett hated to lose. If the game was just for fun, he'd sometimes cheat. And when he got caught, he'd throw his head back and let out a high-pitched giggle that rolled up from deep inside his chest before filling the room.

He spent time at his new cabin, too. It was on Deer Lake, a few miles east of St. Croix Falls, Wis. He and Leske fell into the habit of fishing the lake's hot spots together just about every weekend morning Puckett was there.

Floating on the calm water, downing chocolate doughnuts and casting a line ... it wasn't baseball, but it was almost as good. Hauling in the fish became a summertime obsession nearly as engrossing as hauling in pop flies.

Puckett and Leske were an unlikely pair -- the bald professional athlete and the graying village president of Dresser, Wis. Now 71, Leske met Puckett in the fall of 1996 when Kirby and Tonya bought the cabin. Leske had come by to inspect the property, and when he got there, he found Puckett standing in the driveway, all smiles and extending his hand.

Ever fish this lake? Puckett asked him.

Yeah, Leske said.

A week later, they were out in Leske's boat, catching their limit in crappies.

When they came ashore, Leske said he dragged the fish to a cleaning table at the base of a pine tree while Puckett stood back and watched.

We've got 100 crappies here, Puck, and I'm not cleaning them all, Leske says he told him.

Sherm, I've never cleaned a fish, Puckett said.

Well, we'll learn how, won't we, Puck? Leske said.

Puckett watched as Leske plopped that first crappie onto the table. He slid the knife around a gill, then turned the blade slightly and ran it across the side of the fish to separate meat from bone. He flipped the fish over and repeated the move.

Now it was Puckett's turn.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Houston 23 FINAL
Pittsburgh 30
San Diego 10/23/14 7:25 PM
Denver
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Chicago 98 FINAL
Cleveland 107
New Orleans 88 FINAL
Washington 84
Milwaukee 120 FINAL
New York 107
Philadelphia 88 FINAL
Brooklyn 99
Charlotte 114 FINAL
Atlanta 117
Sacramento 99 FINAL
San Antonio 106
Memphis 103 FINAL
Dallas 108
Tampa Bay 2 FINAL
Edmonton 3
Arkansas State 10/21/14 7:00 PM
Louisiana
Connecticut 10/23/14 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 10/23/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
Montreal 10/24/14 5:30 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 10/24/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
Hamilton 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Winnipeg

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Are you happy to see the Royals in the World Series?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close