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On this day: Kirby Puckett walk-off homer keeps Twins' 1991 World Series hopes alive

It’s been over three decades since the Minnesota Twins have been crowned world champions, but reliving Kirby Puckett’s Game 6 walk-off will make it feel like yesterday.

TNS-KIRBYPUCKETT-1991
Fans paid tribute to Kirby Puckett after he had to announe his sudden retirement.
Brian Peterson / Star Tribune via TNS
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MINNEAPOLIS — It's been more than three decades since the Minnesota Twins have been crowned world champions, but — thanks to the archives — it can still feel like yesterday.

Heading into Game 6 of the World Series on Oct. 26, 1991, the Twins trailed the Atlanta Braves two games to three in the best-of-seven series. Suffering a brutal 14-5 loss the night before, Minnesota needed to make a statement.

With over 55,000 fans packed into the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in downtown Minneapolis, the Twins jumped out to an early lead, after Kirby Puckett tripled to left field, scoring Chuck Knoblauch from first. Two batters later, a Shane Mack single drove in Puckett to start Minnesota off with a 2-0 lead.

Three scoreless innings followed before Atlanta’s Terry Pendleton hit a two-run home run to deep centerfield in the top of the fifth, countered only by a game-tying Puckett sacrifice fly to score Dan Gladden in the bottom of the inning.

The game entered extra innings at a 3-3 tie, with no scoring in the 10th. In the top of the 11th, Twins pitcher Rick Aguilera dashed any hope for Atlanta after catching their only baserunner of the inning attempting to steal second. The next two batters flew out, leaving Puckett at the top of the Twins’ order.

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On Charlie Leibrandt’s fourth pitch of the game, Puckett took a cut at a high fastball, driving it deep over the left-centerfield wall to keep Minnesota’s World Series hopes alive and force a seventh matchup.

“Into deep left-center, for Mitchell … and we'll see you tomorrow night,” Jack Buck called over the television broadcast as the Metrodome erupted in cheers.

Twins players and staff — all sporting the classic Minnesota pinstripes — piled on Puckett as he reached home plate as fans whirled their classic Homer Hankies in the air.

As history would have it, the Twins topped the Braves the following evening in a 1-0 nail-biter that took 10 innings to decide.

More than a decade later, in 2003, ESPN would name the series the greatest of all time as part of the network’s 100th anniversary World Series countdown, as five of the seven matchups would be decided by just one run, four were decided in the game’s final at-bats and three requiring extra innings to decide.

Puckett, the all-time Twins leader for career hits, runs and total bases, was inducted into the Major League Hall of Fame in 2001. He died in 2006 as a result of a stroke.

A South Dakota native, Hunter joined Forum Communications Company as a reporter for the Mitchell (S.D.) Republic in June 2021 and now works as a digital reporter for Forum News Service, focusing on regional news that impacts the Dakotas, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
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