Will Harvin and Morneau join list of Minnesota stars sidelined too soon?

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Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin on Dec. 6, 2009. (AP Photo/Matt York)

It’s not looking good for Minnesota Vikings receiver Percy Harvin. He’s struggled for years with migraines. Today’s troubling news is that he’s been taken off the practice field in an ambulance.

Certainly the team and sports fans are hoping Harvin will be OK — and that he’ll be able to play this year.

But the recurring nature of Harvin’s health issue definitely will make a lot of fans wonder if he’ll be back this season — or ever. It would be a real setback for the Vikings and a disappointing end to a promising career.

morneau.jpgSame goes for Minnesota Twins first baseman Justin Morneau. He’s been out since July after suffering a concussion during a game. Although Morneau’s been making progress, some nervous Twins fans have been wondering if he will ever return.

Hopefully this list is premature, but Harvin’s situation and Morneau’s injury got me thinking about other Minnesota sports star’s whose careers ended much too early. I’m not thinking of aging players who called it quits due to injury after their prime. I’m talking about guys either on the way up or at their peak.

So far, I’ve come up with two fairly obvious ones … John Castino and Kirby Puckett. I’m sure I’m missing some others. Add yours to the comments below.

John Castino

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This one sticks with me because I was just becoming a die-hard Twins fan when Castino made his mark.

I remember loving his defensive gems. And I was young enough to take pride in a Twins player winning the Rookie of the Year award, which Castino did in 1979.

My disappointment over a back problem ending Castino’s career lasted a long time. It just seemed so unfair.

Here’s a summary of Castino’s career from Baseball Reference.


John Castino was the 1979 Rookie of the Year whose career ended prematurely due to chronic back pain. He was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 3rd round of the 1976 amateur draft. … He became the regular third baseman for the 1979 Twins, winning the rookie award. He played in 148 games, although he had only 393 at-bats. His batting line was .285/.331/.397, and he had 8 triples. The next year, 1980, was even better for Castino. He hit .302/.336/.430, with 13 home runs and 7 triples. … The back problems got to him, though, as he played only 8 games in 1984, hitting .444/.531/.481 at the age of 29.

Kirby Puckett

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Kirby Puckett speaks while being inducted into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame in 2001. (Photo by Henny Ray AbramsAFP/Getty Images)

Puckett makes this list because he was still a productive star when his career got cut short. He was having a fine season in 1995 when he got beaned in the face in late September.

The next spring, he woke up one day and couldn’t see out of his right eye. Surgery and therapy couldn’t get his vision back and Minnesota’s most charismatic sports star was done playing.

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