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An oral history of Nick Punto at Christmas parties

Slide headfirst into some holiday cheer

Minnesota Twins v Detroit Tigers Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Lou Punto (Nick’s father): Anytime we took Nick to see Santa, he slid headfirst onto the poor guy’s lap. Always asked for a Harley. One guy had so much dirt on his costume afterwards they made us pay for dry-cleaning.

Jim “Big Jim” Robinson (manager, Mission Viejo Wal-Mart Supercenter): Nick was always a real grinder at work. We moved him around the departments a lot, but he really loved the garden center. At the Christmas party in ‘92, he decided to practice his switch-hitting with ornaments from the tree. That was the last time part-time workers were invited to the Christmas party.

Lou: After the ‘92 Wal-Mart incident, we decided as a family to recognize Festivus instead of Christmas. No ornaments, no tree. A structured way for him to get his energy out [feats of strength]. It was really for the best.

Ron Gardenhire (former Twins manager): I never could get Nicky to come out to any Christmas parties. I couldn’t believe the guy didn’t want to come to any Christmas parties, but I guess he’d been skipping ‘em for as long as he’d been in the league. Real shame. Love that guy. Really gets after it at a party.

Delmon Young (former Twins OF): Yeah, Punto never came out to any Christmas parties. I love the guy, but it was probably for the best. He’d spill the punch bowl or slide headfirst into the tree or something. Guy hustles EVERYWHERE. Like, off the field AND on the field. Crazy.

Nick Punto: I got Gardy to come to my Festivus dinner one time. He said it wasn’t for him. It was hard to go out and give it 100% when we didn’t have any grievances to air against each other. Did get him to slide headfirst into the aluminum pole with me though GET MONEY.