NEWS NOW:David Ortiz shouts out the ‘Real 34’ Hall of Famer who shaped his career

March 7, 2024

Before he wore the iconic number 34, which was retired by the Boston Red Sox, David Ortiz was a little-known slugger who wore number 27 for the Minnesota Twins.

That’s because that number belonged to Hall of Fame outfielder Kirby Puckett, a player Ortiz recently referred to as “the real 34” on social media.

Ortiz brought up the story of former Twins pitcher Mike Trombley, a native of Wilbraham, Massachusetts. The 11-year MLB veteran shared his memories of Puckett, one of the club’s most beloved players.

“In 1992, I sat at my locker and saw my first (MLB) check,” Trombley wrote.

“Kirby Puckett walked by and said, ‘This is your first time checking into a major championship, right?'” I smiled proudly and nodded. 

Puck then reached into his pocket and pulled out a large wad of bills and asked, “Do you want me to cash it?

However, Ortiz reported it on Instagram on Wednesday. “That was him…The Real 34,” Ortiz wrote on his Instagram Story.

Ortiz has spoken several times about Puckett’s role in shaping his MLB debut. Ortiz and Paquette were never true teammates, mainly because Paquette’s career was cut short by glaucoma after 1995. 

However, when Ortiz made his MLB debut in 1997, Paquette worked with the team off the field.

When Ortiz himself was inducted into the Hall of Fame, he paid tribute to Puckett, noting that he wore No. 34 in Boston in honor of Puckett.

“I will miss Mr. Kirby Puckett very much,” Ortiz said in his acceptance speech.

“He taught me a lot about the game.

I mean, he gave me so much advice and was such a great guy to me that I started wearing his number 34 when I went to Boston. God bless you, Kirby, wherever God tells you to go.

Paquette died in 2006 at the age of 45 after suffering a stroke.

Puckett was a six-time Gold Glover Award winner and played all 12 MLB seasons with the Twins.

He won two World Series with Minnesota.

A year after making his 10th straight All-Star appearance, his career came to an abrupt end at age 35.