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Harmon Killebrew, Baseball's Humble Slugger, Dies

SCOTTSDALE, Arizona - Legendary baseball player Harmon Killebrew lost his battle with esophageal cancer on Tuesday.    He was 74.

The native of Payette, Idaho, played 22 major league seasons with the Washington Senators, Minnesota Twins and Kansas City Royals. In 2,435 career games, he hit .256 with 573 home runs and 1,584 RBI.

He led the league in home runs six times during his career, with a career-high 49 with the Twins in 1969, the same year he won the American League most valuable player award. He drove in 100 or more runs nine times during his career.

A first baseman, third baseman and left-fielder during his career, he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1984.

“Harmon Killebrew personified Hall of Fame excellence in every aspect of his dynamic life,” Jane Forbes Clark, the chairman of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, said in a statement.

“He will forever be remembered for his 573 career home runs and as the 1969 American League most valuable player, and as one of the greatest hitters of his era.”

Killebrew's cancer battle became public in December and he was undergoing treatment in Scottsdale, Arizona. He entered hospice care last Friday.

“I have exhausted all options with respect to controlling this awful disease,” he wrote in a statement when he ended treatment and began hospice care last week. “My illness has progressed beyond my doctors' expectation of cure.”

Killebrew is synonymous with the Twins, having spent 14 seasons in Minnesota.

His No. 3 was retired by the Twins in 1975 and a street in Minneapolis near the Mall of America, the former site of Metropolitan Stadium, was named Killebrew Drive.

“No individual has ever meant more to the Minnesota Twins organization and millions of fans across Twins Territory than Harmon Killebrew,” said Twins president Dave St. Peter. “Harmon will long be remembered as one of the most prolific home run hitters in the history of the game and the leader of a group of players who helped lay the foundation for the long-term success of the Twins franchise and Major League Baseball in the Upper Midwest.”

 Personal Quotes

"Look for the seams (on a knuckleball) and then hit in-between them."

"Well, I like to wash dishes, I guess." - when asked what he liked to do for fun

"My father used to play with my brother and me in the yard. Mother would come out and say, 'You're tearing up the grass'; 'We're not raising grass,' Dad would reply. 'We're raising boys.'"

"Life is precious and time is a key element. Let's make every moment count and help those who have a greater need than our own. I like to tell the story of my loving mother, Katie, saying, 'We're here to help each other. What other reason could there be? So get with it, son.'"

"When I watch the games today I see pitches right down the middle called balls. So I don't know where the strike zone is these days. They seem to have a wide plate and a small strike zone." [in 1998]

1 comment:

WRLTHD said...

Dave Wickard
Very very sad. I never had a ton of heroes, but Harmon was one of them.
I remember meeting him and shaking his hand at the old "Foreman and Clark" clothing store downtown. Dad brought me there when I was a kid. I bought Adam an autographed baseball and picture of Harmon and we had them framed together. A sad day for Minnesota baseball fans everywhere.