Words of character and courage from Killer

Killebrew embodies youngsters' values contract

October 09, 2009
Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew spoke to children about Character and Courage at Cooperstown Central School. (Milo Stewart Jr./ National Baseball Hall of Fame)

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- The middle school students at Cooperstown Central School have written a values contract that highlights caring, courage and cooperation.

They couldn't have a better role model than Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew.

In town as part of Character and Courage Day on Saturday, Oct. 10, at the Hall of Fame, Killebrew served as a guest speaker to about 300 middle school kids on Friday. When asked how he made it through 22 seasons of Major League Baseball without ever being thrown out of a game for arguing, Killebrew responded playfully.

"Not yet," he laughed. "I always thought the umpires were trying to do their jobs, and I was trying to do mine, so I let them do it."

His character and integrity were greatly influenced by his childhood idol, his dad.

"My father taught me to keep my emotions under control," he said. "If they get out of control, then the opposition has the advantage."

Killebrew and his wife created the Harmon Killebrew Foundation, which they have used over the years to support a number of charities and community causes. Most recently, they have been involved in building Miracle Leagues fields, specially designed so that children with physical and mental disabilities can play baseball.

The 1984 Hall of Fame inductee still ranks 10th on the all-time home run list with 573 and has spent his life on and off the diamond as nothing short of a gentleman.

The middle schoolers all had questions prepared for the 13-time All-Star and former Most Valuable Player, whom they had been studying about in their classes, and Killebrew responded with stories and advice. One child asked about how he felt when he didn't play well on the field.

"Well, I don't remember ever doing that," he joked. "But in baseball and everything else, you do the best you possibly can and leave the field with no regrets."

Killebrew will share his insights on the game at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 10, in the Hall of Fame's Grandstand Theater in a special Character and Courage Day Voices of the Game program. A ticket is required for the event and costs $10 for adults and $5 for children under 12. Tickets are available by calling 607-547-0397.

Samantha Carr is the media relations coordinator at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum