Harmonizing About Harmon
Written by Jim Rednour   
Thursday, 26 May 2011


Harmon Killebrew
(June 29, 1936 – May 17, 2011)


Minnesota Twins Bids Fond Farewell To The Original Twin Star in Arizona, Fans Remember Beloved Legend at Target Field


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.

In 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.


"Harmon's 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 man who many believe is the model for the silhouette of the batter preparing to hit in the official logo of Major League Baseball, recently entertained a lively crowd of Milaca (MN) High School students, parents and grandparents (many of whom fondly remembered his days protecting the first - and later third 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.


•  During 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 arrived back at home, the catcher told him, “Kid, we’re never going to throw you a fastball again.”


•  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 winter.”


• 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.