May 17, 2011

Harmon Killebrew: 1936-2011

Damn.

Harmon Killebrew entered into hospice care last week following unsuccessful treatments for esophageal cancer and the Twins announced that the Hall of Famer passed away this morning at age 74. Killebrew is arguably the greatest player in Twins history and one of the greatest power hitters in baseball history, ranking fifth all time in home runs and 10th in adjusted OPS+ when he retired in 1975.

However, his legacy goes far beyond that. Killebrew, an 11-time All-Star and 1969 AL MVP who captured six home run titles and was inducted into Cooperstown in 1984, was also universally regarded as one of the game's nicest superstars and beloved by seemingly everyone he ever met, including numerous current Twins players with whom he bonded in recent years. Twins president Dave St. Peter issued a statement about Killebrew's death:

No individual has ever meant more to the Minnesota organization and millions of fans across Twins Territory. Harmon's legacy will be the class, dignity and humility he demonstrated each and every day as a Hall of Fame-quality husband, father, friend, teammate and man.

RIP, Killer.

22 Comments »

  1. Maybe it’s time to finish the top Twins list you’ve been working on summaries for…and skip to #1 and put #3 there.

    Comment by JD — May 17, 2011 @ 11:15 am

  2. I visited the site today to make the same comment as JD. Skip to #1 for today, and tell us why the Bashful Basher will forever be the greatest Minnesota Twin.

    Comment by Steve — May 17, 2011 @ 11:27 am

  3. Agree with the others. There can’t be any debate about who #1 is. Let’s see his entry and we can start guessing who #2 is.

    Comment by PC — May 17, 2011 @ 11:55 am

  4. R.I.P. Harmon. In my office, I have two signed items. One is a 1987 Homer Hankie with Kirby’s signature, and a Hall of Fame poster inked by Harmon. Both are great mementos of two eras of Twins baseball.

    Although he went through great personal tragedy after his playing days were over, Harmon remained a great ambassador for the Twins and MLB.

    Comment by funoka — May 17, 2011 @ 12:48 pm

  5. He just seems like the kind of person I want my kids to be someday. A great human being, who really cared about others. It’s just a nice coincidence that he was a great baseball player also.

    Comment by mike wants WINS — May 17, 2011 @ 12:49 pm

  6. No kidding… I watched Killebrew pretty regularly in 71-73 when he was not the player he had been prior to that but he had at least 20 fly-outs against the wall each year. With today’s smaller ball parks, smaller strike zones and livelier ball… I don’t know, I can only shake my head. He could hit the ball a long ways.

    Comment by curt — May 17, 2011 @ 12:51 pm

  7. “With today’s smaller ball parks, smaller strike zones and livelier ball… I don’t know, I can only shake my head. He could hit the ball a long ways.”

    Yup, and the DH rule didn’t come along until ’73. If it had started sooner, both Killebrew and Oliva could’ve had a whole second career as full-time DH’s, just like Chili Davis did.

    Comment by LaBombo — May 17, 2011 @ 1:13 pm

  8. RIP Killer

    Comment by zebano — May 17, 2011 @ 1:37 pm

  9. In the first Twins game I ever went to (1972), Killebrew hit an infield double. Highest popup I’ve ever seen, and three Tiger infielders stood and watched it drop. Met him years later; what a great man. This is a sad day for all Twins fans.

    Comment by Mark in Iowa — May 17, 2011 @ 2:28 pm

  10. RIP Killebrew.

    “@MyFOX9: #Twins put #Killebrew photo under home plate at Target Field for rest of season http://bit.ly/kS1Ko6” — thereby minimizing the chance that any Twins will desecrate it by stepping on it.

    Comment by Strange homage — May 17, 2011 @ 2:44 pm

  11. I will forever remember him for hitting that homerun at the Met in 1967 and every time I went to old Met after that, I would look at that seat every time before I sat down.
    He should’ve had 50 home runs in 1969, if it weren’t for an umpire calling a center field shot at Fenway a double instead of a homer.
    The Twins have had a lot of great players, but only one Harmon Killebrew.
    I vote with the rest. Skip to No. 1 and we’ll debate who’s No. 2.

    Comment by duane — May 17, 2011 @ 4:16 pm

  12. This is a shot in the gut for me. I was very young in Harmon’s last few years, but he was THE guy. Even with Carew and Oliva on the team, it was Harmon’s baseball card that I coveted.

    Comment by Gus — May 17, 2011 @ 4:26 pm

  13. I missed the Killebrew era entirely but I loved the highlights and he was a great player. The conversation about the number 1 twin of all time necessarily brings me to Kirby Puckett because of the era in which I grew up watching baseball. It would be interesting to see the statistical comparison of those two since they seemed like very different players. The great thing about Killebrew and what probably makes him number 1 is that after baseball, he continued to do great things. Kirby, well, not so much. I guess it depends on what Gleeman means when he says number 1. If it is just stats, it might be a little closer. If you factor in stewardship, it’s not much of a contest: Killebrew all the way.

    Comment by Sean — May 17, 2011 @ 5:23 pm

  14. RIP Harmon.

    Comment by scot — May 17, 2011 @ 5:56 pm

  15. A truly great man has left us….but, uniwuely, will always be with us.

    Comment by CommisserBart — May 17, 2011 @ 7:17 pm

  16. so classy of the mariners to honor him the way they did! Could have just done the little moment of silence but no,they did a video tribute and had Bert come to the stadium to honor him. Classy, classy

    Comment by neil — May 17, 2011 @ 9:54 pm

  17. Looking forward to Harmon’s posting.
    No suspense or controversy there.
    RIP

    Comment by brian — May 17, 2011 @ 10:40 pm

  18. RIP Harmon…what a wonderful man.

    Comment by JR Cigar — May 17, 2011 @ 11:08 pm

  19. Arguably the greatest player in Twins history? Arguably? Really?

    Comment by Neil T. — May 18, 2011 @ 6:04 am

  20. I could go on for paragraphs on Harmon, with what he meant to us small town kids growing up in west central Minnesota, waiting with bated breath at each and every of his at-bats to be described by Herb, Halsey or Merle. I could go on about his life after baseball, in which he solidified his place as the most respected, by far, Minnesota professional athlete in history. I could go on about how he agreed to call my aging mother two years ago and say hello when I met him, and he treated her on that phone call as if the two of them had known each other for decades.

    I guess what I am trying to say is that what I think of the most is simply this: While it is true that Harmon was a great man, it is also true that he was a good man. The world is a much poorer place now that he is no longer with us.

    Comment by marietta mouthpiece — May 18, 2011 @ 7:02 am

  21. I met him at the Eliott Lounge in the mid 60′s in Boston. The teammates on hand, Jim Roland, Lee Stange, Bill Daily, clearly had great respect for him, as do I.He hit 15 balls 100 or more feet over the “monster” in bp drawing a standing ovation, then,with 2 on in the first, he lined one down the line barely fair,out in 3 seconds to total stunned silence.

    Comment by al — May 18, 2011 @ 11:00 am

  22. Why can’t there be more people like him in the world?

    Comment by Jon L. — May 18, 2011 @ 4:10 pm

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