Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Saying Goodbye to Harmon Killebrew

My earliest baseball memory was of Harmon Killebrew.  I was pre-kindergarten, and we were living in our old, old, old house in Crystal.  My dad and I were sitting in the living room, it was dark, so it must have been fall, and my mom was asking me to go to bed. 

I was watching the old black and white TV with dad.  We were watching the Twins game, and I asked to stay up to see Harmon hit.  My dad had told me of the long home runs the giant man hit, and I wanted to see one.  My mom overruled my protest, came to scoop me up, but just as she arrived dad lobbied on my behalf, "Harmon's coming up next inning."  Mom reluctantly agreed, and I remember the conscious thought of how dad had the ability to buy me some more time before bed. 

At this date I don't know what Harmon did at the plate.  He didn't hit a home run, but the fact I got to stay up a little later with my dad was reward enough. 

Harmon was always bigger than life to a little kid growing up in Minnesota in the 70's.  As we'd play ball, kids would often pretend to be a player - Carew, Oliva, Tovar - but nobody really ever picked Killebrew.  It was like he was just too big, too powerful for a little kid to even pretend being him. 

I ended up meeting him later in my childhood, at a Camera Day at Met Stadium.  We stood there, my brother and I and about a dozen other kids, and Harmon came over to us for the photo.  My brother happened to be wearing a kid's batting helmet that day, and just as the shutters of the fathers' cameras were about to flash, Harmon reached his massive bat across and tapped my brother on the top of the helmet.  I felt at that moment that my brother had to be the luckiest kid alive. 

In a franchise full of incredible players, Harmon was a gem.  Unassuming, quiet, but ridiculously powerful in a way that basically can only be mimicked through illegal methods, Harmon was unique.  He had a unique name, hit uniquely massive home runs, and had a unique look that basically prevented him from looking like he'd aged over the past thirty years. 

And he had the unique ability to allow a father and son to share a first baseball moment together. 

Thanks for everything, Harmon.  We will miss you.  


  1. My very first baseball game was either the first or second "Killebrew 500" in 1971. (I looked up in and I am pretty sure it was the first Killebrew 500 game!). I remember the excitement every time Harmon came to the plate. He was 0 for 1 with 2 BB and a SO so it was unenventful. It was fascinating though, and I remember we were down the 3rd base line and watching Steve Braun as the 3rd baseman and George Mitterwald as the catcher. The starting pitcher that day was a non-entity names Steve Luebber, but I more remember Tom Hall and Ray Corbin being hte relievers.

    The game was a lot different then!

  2. Love it Sid. He played and loved the game like a 10 year old kid. They don't make players like that anymore. Our heros are leaving us but memories like yours above keep them close in our hearts


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