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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Charismatic All-Star Puckett Leaves Baseball

LOS ANGELES -- Kirby Puckett, one of baseball's best and most charismatic players, has announced his retirement after the latest in a series of laser procedures on his right eye showed irreversible damage to the retina.


Puckett, who had not played this season because of glaucoma that developed late in spring training, wore a bandage over the eye during an emotional Metrodome news conference Friday.


He used the appearance to tell his Minnesota Twins teammates that he loved them and would miss them but would not appear in uniform again.


"I never took the game for granted," the 35-year-old outfielder said.


"I loved it and treated it with respect, but my life isn't over, the world hasn't come to an end.


"There was so much more I could have accomplished in the game, and I regret that I won't have that opportunity, but I can still see my beautiful wife and wonderful kids. I can still drive a car.


"I have a lot to live for and look forward to."


Acting commissioner Bud Selig said it was a sad day for Kirby and for baseball.


"He obviously was one of the greatest players in the game but also one of the nicest people I've ever met. Kirby stands for everything you want in a major-league player and, more importantly, in life, period."


In 12 seasons, Puckett was a 10-time All-Star and six-time Gold Glove winner who produced a .318 average, 207 home runs and 1,085 runs batted in.


He led the Twins to World Series titles in 1987 and 1991, hit 20 or more homers six times and had three seasons of 100 or more RBI.


He led the American League with 112 RBI in 1994 and won the 1989 batting title at .339. His best year was 1988, when he hit .356 with 24 homers and 121 RBI.


Displaying his characteristically upbeat demeanor, Puckett said he would now pull his World Series rings out of storage and begin wearing them.


He said he was closing one chapter and beginning another and that he hoped to get into baseball broadcasting.


He nodded in the direction of former teammate Kent Hrbek, attending the news conference, and said his immediate plan was "to go fishing with Herby."


Former major league manager Sparky Anderson heard the news at his home in Thousand Oaks, California.


Anderson said, "This guy could not only play, but he played the way you're supposed to play. He had fun when he played, but he played to win. I've tried to tell that to so many players -- have fun but also play to win.


"I had him on a trip to Japan a few years ago and finally said to him, 'Don't you ever shut up?' He said, 'Skip, if I ever shut up it wouldn't be me.' He was a treat and a half, and he put those numbers up every year. He wasn't one of those guys who does it once and goes to arbitration trying to get all the money.


"He was good to everybody, from kids to his manager, and he'll leave the game knowing he never cheated it."


Puckett, who came out of the projects of Chicago's South Side, had this year and next remaining on a five-year, $30-million contract. He recently told the Los Angeles Times that he was set financially.


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