As most everyone knows by now, Kirby Puckett died yesterday, the youngest Hall of Famer to do so since Lou Gehrig. During his career, it was hard not to be a fan of Puckett, a spark-plug with speed and power who played the game the “right way” and had an infectious smile. Post HOF-election revelations indicate he was really not the sweet and cuddly guy that his image suggested. For a Yankee fan, this leaves a particularly bitter taste, as he was a borderline Hall candidate who probably made it on his “intangibles” and “persona” while Don Mattingly, whose numbers are comparable, remains on the outside looking in (and is the real deal, persona-wise). Ironically, it was Puckett who dubbed Mattingly “Donnie Baseball.” For that, and for his wonderful play, we’ll always be thankful.