Baseball Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew, said Friday he is ending his battle with esophageal cancer and will live out the final days of his life in hospice care.  

“If ever anyone wielded a blunt instrument at home plate, it was Harmon Killebrew. There was nothing subtle about the Idaho strongboy: it was always his intention to mash a pitched ball as hard and as far as he could.” – Donald Honig in The Power Hitters (1989)  —Baseball Almanac

Harmon Killebrew landed in nearby (I was in North Dakota) Minnesota with the old Washington Senators American League franchise newly reborn the Minnesota Twins. They called him Killer or the Gentle Giant; he was a genuine young superstar who helped ease my turn from the Detroit Tigers and Al Kaline to become a Twins fan. Over the next dozen years as a Twin Harmon built a record making him one of the all time baseball greats before finishing his 22 year Major League baseball career in Kansas City. He played baseball the way he lived his life with class and character. Although Mr. Killebrew and I were born hundreds of miles apart, we were separated at birth by just hours.

The Killebrew record:

  • 22 years and 2435 games in the American League (directly from high school.)
  • 8147 At bats
  • 2086 hits
  • 1283 runs scored
  • 1585 RBI (100 or more 9 times)
  • 535 Home runs (40 or more 8 times) This record is second to Babe Ruth among American League players.
  • 13 All Star game appearances
  • One League MVP award when he led the league in home runs, RBI’s, walks and on base percentage.

I’m hoping he makes July 1st and 75 years with me.

Update: May 17, 2011; Harmon Killebrew ended his run in this world today —45 days short of that joint celebration of 75 yeaars.

About Richard Johnson

Richard Johnson: a mature Christian who understands the sweep of history, the unique role of America and these times clearly and precisely.
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