Hunter given seventh Gold Glove
Outfielder surpasses Puckett for total awards with Twins
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Torii Hunter celebration continued at the Metrodome on Tuesday night. The Angels' new center fielder was presented with his seventh Rawlings Gold Glove, surpassing by one the total of Gold Gloves claimed his predecessor with the Twins, the great Kirby Puckett.
The fans at the Dome rose and cheered, just as they had on several occasions on Opening Night for Hunter. He spent his first nine Major League seasons with the Twins before signing a five-year, $90 million free-agent deal with the Angels in November.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire handed the luminous Gold Glove trophy to Hunter, who'd lifted his cap to the crowd and acknowledged his former teammates in the home dugout with a tap of the chest.
Before the presentation, a video salute of some of Hunter's memorable plays, accompanied by a "Thanks for the Memories" tune was played.
It was Puckett, the Hall of Famer and World Series hero, who took Hunter under his wing when Torii was a teenager starting to make his way through the farm system.
"I was with him every day, having lunch, dinner," Hunter recalled of Puckett, whose career was cut short by glaucoma, forcing his retirement in 1995. "We'd have deep conversations about life. He played a big part in my career, taught me how to carry myself. He'd say sign as many autographs as you can -- when it's over, it's over.
"He never lost that love of the game and always wanted to play. He'd get in the [batting] cage -- we called him `One-eye Jack' -- and he was supposed to take two swings, and he'd take 15. I miss him."
Puckett died in 2006, eight days shy of his 46th birthday. Carrying Puckett's legacy, infusing young players with insights and knowledge just as Kirby did for him, is one of Hunter's missions.
"You talk to the younger guys, so they don't have to go through a lot of the things he went through and I went through," Hunter said. "He kind of schooled me on that. Older guys aren't going to change, but with younger guys, you can show them the way."
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.