29, 1936 – May 17, 2011)
Minnesota Twins Bids Fond Farewell
To The Original Twin Star in Arizona, Fans Remember Beloved Legend at Target
Harmon Killebrew was
the Minnesota Twins’ first and most enduring superstar, playing 14 thunderous
seasons and then continuing his role as the face of the franchise after
becoming its first Hall of Fame inductee in 1984.
“No individual ha sever meant more to the Minnesota
Twins organization…than Harmon Killebrew,” said Twins President Dave St. Peter,
who credited “The Killer” with helping to lay the foundation for the long-term
success of the Twins franchise.
So it is only fitting that so many past- and present Twins players were
on-hand for his funeral in Peoria, AZ.
a fortunate twist of fate, the Minnesota team was in Arizona to begin a three-game
interleague series against the Diamondbacks on Friday night, so the entire
squad was on hand. Current Twins
Joe Nathan, Michael Cuddyer and Justin Morneau, as well as manager Ron
Gardenhire, were pallbearers, along with ex-Twin Paul Molitor and Killebrew's
former teammates Rod Carew, Tony Oliva and Frank Quilici. Hall of Famers Robin
Yount and Frank Robinson also attended the service.
philosophy was so simple and clear and he wanted to make it clear to us,"
son-in-law Craig Bair said. "Always give more than you take. Always
maintain an even calmness that you might calm others. Truly know that you are
loved beyond measure and go out and share that love. Find a place of peace with
your partner. Experience daily the love of your family. Enjoy your friends.
Know your neighbors and especially go out of your way to do the same to the
people new in your life.' "
Earlier this year, the
who many believe is the model for the silhouette of the batter
preparing to hit in the official logo of Major League Baseball, recently
lively crowd of Milaca (MN) High School students, parents and
(many of whom fondly remembered his days protecting the first - and
base - lines in the old Metropolitan Stadium.
Here are just some of the
gems that he shared with the crowd:
• There wasn’t a draft
of high school/college players when Killebrew finished high school. Out of the
16 teams in the league at the time, 15 had their scouts talk to him. The Red
Sox didn’t scout him but they did make him an offer.
• Killebrew regards
former Boston Red Sox batting champion and fellow 500 Home Club member Ted
Williams as the greatest player in baseball history. “I
always wonder what would’ve happened if I’d signed with Boston,” he said. “I
would have been a teammate of Ted Williams for 6 or 7 years and that would have
really been something.”
• Killebrew played his
first Major League game at second base. He had two singles and a double.
his first trip to Detroit, the Tigers’ catcher told Killebrew, then 18,
“We’re going to throw you a fastball on the first pitch.”
Killebrew believed him and slugged a 476-foot homer. When Killebrew
back at home, the catcher told him, “Kid, we’re never going to throw you
• Killebrew competed on the TV show “Home
Run Derby” several times. “In 1959 I hit 42 home runs and my salary was about
$9,000,” he said. “Players, including myself, made
about that much in the home run contests which were filmed in Florida in the
• Killebrew met seven
U.S. Presidents during his career. In June of 1959 while playing for the
Senators, President Dwight D. Eisenhower asked him to autograph a baseball. He
did and then had the President sign one for him. Eisenhower’s
son David still has the baseball.
• Killebrew once asked
Japanese home run hitter Sadaharu Oh what his secret was for hitting over 800
home runs. Oh said, “Eat, drink, sleep, practice.” When Oh would go hitless in
a game he’d take his bat and take 1,000 practice swings.
• Killebrew had great success hitting
against Oakland reliever Rollie Fingers. When the A’s would arrive at the
airport, Fingers’ teammates would say, “Hey Rollie, Killebrew has a limo
waiting for you.”
• Killebrew, who received a $120,000
contract from Calvin Griffith after leading the AL in home runs and RBIs
following his MVP 1969 season, said “I’m not envious
of today’s player salaries because I know that I played during baseball’s
Golden Age.” That remark drew a loud applause.
• “I knew
how many homers I hit in the majors, but once I added up my walks and
strikeouts and determined I’d spent about six years of my career doing
absolutely nothing,” Killebrew said with a grin.