Harmon Killebrew died today at age 74. If you hadn’t heard of him, he was a basher of the baseball in the late 50s and 60s, way before the steroid era. He knocked out 573 home runs in his 22 year career, and some went record distances. In fact, he had 8 seasons of hitting out 40 or more home-runs, second only to the bambino: Babe Ruth. He played alongside Tony Olivia, Zoila Versailles, Bobby Allison and Mudcat Grant.
Killebrew did it right, he didn’t cheat like the steroid abusers. The cheaters might have all the home-run records, but I doubt if any will ever make the Hall of Fame. Those guys have screwed up baseball for a long time.
Killebrew was a class act both on the field and off. How would I know? You might be wondering that about now! Well when we were kids during those years when Killebrew was in his hey -day, along with Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays and Henry Aaron, to name a few. We read about them in newspapers and magazines, listen to them on the radio (one year I listened to over 100 baseball games), but we never went to any games – too damn poor for that. In fact, we rarely left the reservation. We collected the baseball cards and it was too bad we didn’t have enough foresight to save them in some shoe box in our attic. Hell, we woulda had some walking around change in retirement.
My dearly departed brother Larry lived in the Twin Cities and he went to a baseball card show there one time and got two signed baseballs from Harmon Killebrew, one for him and one for me. Larry said he was a class act. I still have that baseball. I regret that I didn’t get to shake hands with him too. Oh, well thanks for the memories Larry and Harmon.