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1990s / Kirby Puckett with David Letterman
Kirby Puckett was one of the most popular and talented baseball players of his generation. He played 12 seasons with the Minnesota Twins from 1984 to 1995, leading them to World Series titles in both 1987 and 1991. In what would turn out to be Puckett's final MLB game, he was struck by a pitch by Dennis Martinez that broke his jaw on September 28, 1995. Puckett was hitting well during spring training of 1996, but woke up one morning unable to see out of his right eye. Suffering from glaucoma, Puckett was forced to retire. He became an executive with the Twins. This appearance on David Letterman's program took place in 1997. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. Puckett's final years were marred with accusations of violence, marital infidelity, sexual misconduct, spousal abuse, and other unseemly behavior that resulted in the Twins severing ties with him. Sports Illustrated ran an extremely unflattering cover story by Frank Deford on Puckett in a 2003 issue that chronicled his disturbing "secret life." Wrote Deford, "The media and the fans in Minnesota turned the Twins' Hall of Famer into a paragon of every virtue—-and that made his human flaws, when they came to light, all the more shocking." Puckett died of a cerebral hemorrhage eight days before his 46th birthday in 2006.