Bulletin Board, excerpt

'Kirrrrrr-beeeee, Kirrrrrr-beeeee, Kirrrrrr-beeeee, Kirrrrrr-beeeee … '

Lead entry in (St. Paul Pioneer Press) Bulletin Board

Posted on Thurs., March 9, 2006

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'Kirrrrrr-beeeee, Kirrrrrr-beeeee, Kirrrrrr-beeeee, Kirrrrrr-beeeee … '

Writes Poet X of PDX: "There's another catch that's meant when baseball fans say 'The Catch' [Bulletin Board reluctantly interrupts: They mean Willie Mays' astonishing catch-and-throw of a Vic Wertz fly ball in the deepest reaches of the Polo Grounds' cavernous center field, during the 1954 World Series], but to me the phrase means Game 6 of the 1991 World Series. Years of seeing it replayed on newscasts and tributes have not replaced my own memory of that catch from my place in the stands that Saturday evening. I remember, too, the feeling a short while later, when Kirby Puckett hit the game-winning home run, that the will of the crowd transported that ball magically over the fence.

"Only twice do I remember leaving a game with a crowd chanting one player's name. That night was the first. 'Kirrrrrr-beeeee,' we sang, as we headed out the revolving doors and into the chilly streets. It was a slow and respectful chant, not manic fervor. For blocks and blocks the chorus continued, fading at times but never going away: 'Kirby, Kirby, Kirby… '

"(I was lucky to experience the phenomenon a second time: in Seattle, 1994 or '95, playoff game between the Mariners and the Yankees, Edgar Martinez the hero, 'Ed-gar' the slow chant coming naturally despite the awkwardness of trying to chant 'Ed-gar.') "Of all my sports memories, those are the strongest: feeling part of a crowd, a huge crowd, with one happy feeling in common. It's the same feeling that brings tears to my eyes when the National Anthem is sung — and brief, bittersweet tears recalling Kirby's role in some great memories.

"Years ago, I hoped to live long enough to see some of the baseball players I enjoyed during the height of my fandom (1988 to mid-'90s) reach the Hall of Fame. Kirby was, of course, the first. I certainly didn't hope to outlive any of them. My heart is with Twins fans and baseball fans everywhere."