July 25, 2021

Kirby Puckett, tragic hero – Twinkie Town (Twinkie Town)


Like many of you, Kirby Puckett was my childhood baseball hero. I’ve probably told this story before. I do not mean this say he was a good person—some of the things that later came out about his personal life are abhorrent, but his legacy is complicated. Had events become public knowledge during his playing career, things would likely have been different, but as it stands now, many of us attempt to balance the ballplayer we idolized with a man who committed acts we deplore. As always, the real story is deeper. The common thread though— Puckett was a man who was cut down at his peak.

The classic tragic hero goes back to the days of the ancient Greeks. He or she is someone who demonstrates strength in the face of adversity, but is brought low by a fatal flaw, and for who the audience feels fear and pity. Your typical tragic hero arc unfolds with a hero who is brought down by hubris, suffers a reversal of fate, and faces an unavoidable punishment, at which point the audience feels both pity and disgust. If this doesn’t describe Puckett, I don’t know what does.

To begin with, Puckett was a funny shape for a ball-player. He was short and round, yet made spectacular…

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