Harmon “Killer” Killebrew
Today, Harmon “Killer” Killebrew passed away from esophageal cancer at the age of 74 at his home in Scottsdale, AZ. And when I first heard about it this morning, I thought, “This dude was IT.”
Baseball fans remember his knack for knocking balls out of the “Ice Palace” throughout his playing days in Minnesota. The MOST feared hitter of the 1960′s, is a member of the 500-home run club with a steroid-free 573 home runs.
My father, who grew up in Des Moines, IA, used to play ball in his backyard and step up to the plate saying,
“And here we go folks, bases loaded, bottom nine, and whaddya know, look who is stepping up to the plate……. HARMON KILEBREWWWWWWWWW!!!!!!”
To this day, my father, without hesitation,
“Dad, who is your favorite player?”
“Killer. Harmon Killebrew. I still have his autographed baseball card.” And then he’ll show me. Every time.
Seeing his eyes light up when he gets to talk about his favorite baseball player, and the images that are going through his head as he cycles through memories spent at The Met, is fascinating.
He was his childhood idol. The second-most important man in his life, his influence unparalleled.
Every time he stepped into the batter’s box he’d stop any baseball banter going on, and clap the loudest he could for him with a little bark of “Let’s get ‘em here, Killer”. The player he’d go straight to the box score after a night game he’d have to miss and check his stat line. His signed rookie card was his ONLY show-and-tell memorabilia.
Killebrew was IT when he hit the longest home run ever at The Met. He was IT as the American League MVP in the summer of ’69. He was IT when he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1984. He was IT when he chaired the Harmon Killebrew foundation in 1990. He was IT when he battled cancer till the day he died.
He was IT as a role model.
He was IT for baseball.
He was IT for my Dad.