The National Baseball Hall of Fame and the Minnesota Twins Remember Harmon Killebrew
Harmon Killebrew passed away Tuesday morning at his Scottsdale, Ariz., home. He was 74. Killebrew had been battling esophageal cancer, and he announced last week that his battle was coming to an end. Killebrew died peacefully, with his wife, Nita, and their family at his side.
"Harmon Killebrew personified Hall of Fame excellence in every aspect of his dynamic life. He will forever be remembered for his 573 career home runs and as the 1969 American League Most Valuable Player, and as one of the greatest hitters of his era. Since joining the Hall of Fame family in 1984, Harmon was a beacon of light among his fellow Hall of Famers, always smiling, always enjoying every moment that life delivered to his doorstep. We have so many fond memories of this wonderful baseball hero, and we will miss him enormously." – Jane Forbes Clark, Chairman, National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
"Harmon was a Hall of Famer on and off the field. He was baseball's version of Paul Bunyan, with his prodigious home run power, leading by example in the clubhouse and on the field. Off the field, he emanated class, dignity, and warmth, and he was a great humanitarian. He was so down-to-earth, you would never realize he was a baseball legend. It's ironic that his nickname was 'Killer,' as he was one of the nicest, most generous individuals to ever walk the earth." – Jeff Idelson, Hall of Fame President
"No individual has ever meant more to the Minnesota Twins organization and millions of fans across Twins Territory than Harmon Killebrew. Harmon will long be remembered as one of the most prolific home run hitters in the history of the game and the leader of a group of players who helped lay the foundation for the long-term success of the Twins franchise and Major League Baseball in the Upper Midwest. However, more importantly Harmon's legacy will be the class, dignity and humility he demonstrated each and every day as a Hall of Fame-quality husband, father, friend, teammate and man. The Twins extend heartfelt sympathies and prayers to the Killebrew family at this difficult time." - Dave St. Peter, President, Minnesota Twins Baseball Club
"It is with profound sadness that we share with you that our beloved Harmon passed away this morning. He died peacefully surrounded by Nita and our family. He will be missed more than anyone can imagine but we take solace in the fact that he will no longer suffer. We thank you for your outpouring of support and prayers and take comfort in the fact that he was loved by so many." – The Killebrew Family
Harmon Killebrew's Hall of Fame plaque (elected, 1984)
Harmon Clayton Killebrew
Washington A.L. 1954-60
Minnesota A.L. 1961-74
Kansas City A.L. 1975
Muscular slugger with monumental home run and RBI success. His 573 homers over 22 years rank fifth all-time and second only to Ruth among A.L. hitters. Tied or led A.L. in home runs 6 times, belted over 40 on 8 occasions and is third in home run frequency. Drove in over 100 runs 9 times. A.L. MVP in 1969.
Harmon Killebrew Bio
Born: June 29, 1936 at Payette, Idaho
Height: 6-0 Weight: 195
Batted right and threw right
Harmon Killebrew epitomized raw power. His quiet demeanor contradicted an awesome presence at the plate, deserving of the nickname "Killer." "I didn't have evil intentions, but I guess I did have power," he explained. In 22 major league seasons, Killebrew blasted 573 home runs, including many monumental blows estimated at more than 500 feet. The 13-time All-Star was one of the first sluggers to receive intentional walks with the bases empty and captured the 1969 American League Most Valuable Player Award, leading the league with 49 home runs and 140 RBI.
QUOTES ABOUT HARMON KILLEBREW
Hall of Famer Rod Carew: "This is a sad day for all of baseball and even harder for those of us who were fortunate enough to be a friend of Harmon's. Harmon Killebrew was a gem. I can never thank him enough for all I learned from him. He was a consummate professional who treated everyone from the brashest of rookies to the groundskeepers to the ushers in the stadium with the utmost of respect. I would not be the person I am today if it weren't for Harmon Killebrew. He was a Hall of Famer in every sense of the word."
Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson: Harmon was someone I loved and admired and he was one of the most humble people I have ever met. I used to tease him all the time because he hit more home runs against the Orioles than anyone in history. I was able to talk with him on Friday night and tell him what a wonderful friend he was to me. We knew each other well but we became so much closer when he went into the Hall of Fame. He was always doing something to help other people whether it was organizing golf tournaments or raising funds for a cause he believed in. Today is a very sad day. In addition to losing a wonderful friend, baseball has lost one of the true great ambassadors of the game.
Hall of Famer Bert Blyleven: "We all loved Harmon so much. Harmon was a great man, on and off the field. He was a bigger Hall of Famer off the field. Everyone that Harmon ever came in contact with has a story about what a class man he was."
Hall of Famer George Brett: "He was just a fierce competitor and a perfect gentleman at the same time. You don't see that a lot. Sometimes you get fierce competitors who are bad people. You see guys that are not fierce competitors but nice guys. You don't see the two of them together very much."
Hall of Famer Paul Molitor: "We lost one of the most legendary sports figures in the history of our state. He had the integrity to back it up. But there's joy, too. I'm glad that God brought him home after the suffering that he's been through the past few months. There's also joy in that we have memories and the smiles that we all share when we think about Harmon. In death, you think about life. In our life, if you're mindful of Harmon, your life will be enriched, and that's a good thing."
Calvin Griffith, Senators and Twins owner: He was the meal ticket for our franchise for all those years in Washington and Minnesota.
Ossie Bluege, Senators scout: I waited for the rain to stop in Payette, Idaho, and he hit one a mile over the left field fence. I stepped it off the next morning and measured it at 435 feet. That convinced me. I signed him to a three-year contract for $30,000.
QUOTES FROM HARMON KILLEBREW
"In baseball and everything else, you do the best you possibly can and leave the field with no regrets."
"Baseball, like life, is a constant up and down. And how we deal with that shows what kind of character we have."
"I loved putting on a major league uniform and going out on the field every day."
"I got the opportunity to play in what I call the golden years of baseball. There were more great players in that era than any other era in the history of the game."
"Keep swinging, because they might throw it where you're swinging. I guess I was swinging a lot of times where they were throwing."