Kirby Puckett invited Twins teammates to hop on his back and let him lead the way for Game 6 of the 1991 World Series. And now the jersey from the Twins’ most memorable moment that came off his back has a new home.
The crown jewel of a 158-lot online auction of Puckett’s personal collection sold for a final bid of $158,430. With the 20% buyer’s premium fee tagged on, total sale was $190,116. The auction picked up significant traction late Thursday night and extended for two hours. After 32 bids, the auction ended just after 1 a.m. on Friday.
The high bidder, who did not want to be identified, is a lifelong Twins fan who was at Game 6 and has no plans to alter the jersey — like cut it up into sellable squares.
“They said they were happy to keep it in the Twins family,” said Steve Jensen, owner of Maple Grove’s Vintage Sports Authentics, which ran the auction.
The other big-ticket item in the collection, Puckett’s 1986 Rawlings Gold Glove Award (the first of six in his career), sold for $43,681 ($52,417 with the premium). His Silver Slugger Award from that same year went for $36,100 ($43,320). Bidding for a game-worn gray road jersey from the 1987 season went past 1:30 a.m. Friday and sold for $27,121 ($32,545).
Nearly 700 new registered bidders came to the site for the Puckett auction which is “unheard of,” Jensen said. A total of 7,736 bids were placed during the two-week auction and the final winning-bid total came to $767,000.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to do auctions for 19 years,” Jensen said. “This wasn’t the overall biggest [total] but it was by far the most fun because I’m a die-hard Kirby Puckett fan myself.
“I wasn’t working during this one. I was a fan in the middle of it.”
A portion of the auction proceeds will go 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, said Tonya Puckett-Miller, the former wife of the late Twins star.
Puckett, a first-ballot Hall of Famer in 2001, died in 2006 from a stroke.
“My kids share their father’s generous heart,” Puckett-Miller told the Star Tribune earlier this month. Her children, Catherine and Kirby Jr., 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.”
And there’s more to come.
Jensen said two more Puckett Collection auctions are on the way, one in August and one in December. More big-ticket items are planned for these sales like game-worn jerseys and Major League Baseball trophies. Jensen didn’t have details yet on exactly what will be included but said he expects another large outpouring of interest.
“You could just feel the love for Kirby,” he said. “It’s been fun to see an talk to [winning bidders] about their stories.”
Demand was so high in the closing moments of the auction that the website blipped for a short time and the auction host had to be rebooted. All bids were retained, however, sparing Jensen a monumental catastrophe.
“I’ve never seen so much action for bobbleheads,” Jensen laughed.
Brian Stensaas • 612-673-4127