Kirby Puckett’s family is auctioning off hundreds of pieces of memorabilia, with the crown jewel of the collection being the jersey he wore on the night he hit a game-winning home run in the 1991 World Series.
There are 158 Puckett items, or lots, that went up for bid Monday in the online auction run by Vintage Sports Authentics of Maple Grove.
“This is not something that just came up,” Tonya Puckett-Miller, the former wife of the late Twins star, said Thursday. “This is something we had talked about for years.”
When their children, 30-year-old Catherine and 28-year-old Kirby Jr., were very young, “if you would’ve asked them at that time, they would have hung on to all of that forever,” she said. “When your dad dies, you want to hang onto every last thing.”
Puckett died in 2006 from a stroke.
But now, Puckett-Miller said, her children are honoring their father and turning over a portion of the auction proceeds to the Kirby Puckett Memorial Fund as well as various charities assisting with the community’s effort to cope with the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.
“My kids share their father’s generous heart,” Puckett-Miller said of her children, who live near her and her husband in the Twin Cities. “It’s time, and I think that’s what Kirby would have wanted as well.”
Auction house owner Steve Jensen said the family took the items out of climate-controlled storage early this year in preparation for the auction.
Along with items directly associated with Puckett’s Hall of Fame career, the inventory was fed by his own passion of collecting sports memorabilia, Jensen said.
“He was a pack rat” who traded game-used uniforms, shoes and equipment with other athletes, Jensen said.
The gem among the items up for auction is the jersey Puckett wore when he hit the Game 6 home run in 1991, forcing a Game 7 that the Twins won over the Atlanta Braves.
“There’s no way to know for sure” what the winning bid will be, Jensen said. “If [competing bidders] decide they want it, the auction will go crazy.”
As of late Thursday afternoon, the top offer for the jersey stood at more than $23,000.
Other Puckett items sure to get a lot of attention, Jensen said: his 1986 Gold Glove trophy, a 1987 World Series game-worn jersey, the 1986 Silver Slugger award and the glove the outfielder wore from 1985 to 1989.
“This is the most fun I’ve had,” said Jensen, who’s been in the auction business since 2002. “It feels like I’m a fan.”
Puckett-Miller acknowledged that she and her children are holding onto a few things from Kirby’s collection.
Many items connected to the Twins 1987 and 1991 World Series titles and other Gold Glove trophies will remain with the family or stay on loan for continued display for fans at Target Field in the Legends Club, she said.
“The kids will never part with what’s on display” in honor of Puckett, Puckett-Miller said.
The auction, which is part of a much larger sale that includes memorabilia being sold by others from the careers of Michael Jordan, Babe Ruth and others, continues until late on April 23.
Buyers will have to pay the auction house a 20% premium on top of the final price.