Sports Outside the Beltway

Kirby Puckett, Hall of Famer, Dies at 44

Minnesota Twins legend Kirby Puckett has died following a stroke yesterday. He was 44.

Kirby Puckett died Monday, a day after the Hall of Fame outfielder had a stroke at his Arizona home, a hospital spokeswoman said. He was 44.

Puckett died at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix, Kimberly Lodge said. He had been in intensive care since having surgery at another hospital following his stroke Sunday morning.

Puckett carried the Twins to World Series titles in 1987 and 1991 before his career was cut short by glaucoma. His family, friends and former teammates gathered at the hospital throughout Monday. The hospital said Puckett was given last rites and died in the afternoon.

”On behalf of Major League Baseball, I am terribly saddened by the sudden passing of Kirby Puckett,” baseball commissioner Bud Selig said. ”He was a Hall of Famer in every sense of the term. ”He played his entire career with the Twins and was an icon in Minnesota. But he was revered throughout the country and will be remembered wherever the game is played. Kirby was taken from us much too soon — and too quickly,” he said. The buoyant, barrel-shaped Puckett broke into the majors in 1984 and had a career batting average of .318. Glaucoma forced the six-time Gold Glove center fielder and 10-time All-Star to retire when he went blind in his right eye. ”This is a sad day for the Minnesota Twins, Major League Baseball and baseball fans everywhere,” Twins owner Carl Pohlad said.

Indeed it is. Puckett had some personal issues after leaving the game but was one of the most beloved figures in the game during a period when baseball was in trouble.

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