Hall of Fame OF Puckett in critical condition after stroke

FT. MYERS, Florida (Ticker) - Hall of Fame outfielder Kirby Puckett is in critical condition Monday after undergoing surgery for a stroke.

Puckett, a 10-time All-Star center fielder for the Minnesota Twins, suffered the stroke Sunday morning at his home in Scottsdale, Arizona. He was transported to Scottsdale Memorial Hospital, then airlifted to Scottsdale Osborne Hospital, where he underwent the surgery.

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported that Puckett had bleeding on the brain and surgery was required to drain blood and relieve pressure.

Perhaps the most popular player in franchise history, Puckett played his entire career with the Twins (1984-95) and led them to two World Series titles.

Puckett, 44, announced his retirement in July 1996 due to the eye injury and had his number 34 formally retired by the team in May 1997.

Despite having his career cut short by irreversible retina damage to his right eye, Puckett was inducted to the Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 2001.

However after receiving baseball’s highest honor, Puckett’s personal life took a downward turn. His ex-wife Tonya, alleged that he abused her. In 2003, he was acquitted of three charges stemming from an alleged assault of a woman at a restaurant.

Fun-loving as a player, the 5-6, 190-pound Puckett was a lifetime .318 hitter with 207 home runs and 1,085 RBI. He retired as the Twins’ all-time leader in hits (2,304), doubles (414), total bases (3,453), at-bats (7,244) and runs (1,071).

Puckett was selected to 10 consecutive All-Star Games from 1986-95 and won six Gold Gloves and five Silver Slugger Awards.

Also one of baseball’s great community leaders, Puckett won the Roberto Clemente Man of the Year award in 1996.

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Updated Monday, Mar 6, 2006