EDIT... I heard this afternoon that Harmon Killebrew has passed away at the age of 74. This post was written on Monday prior to that news. This afternoon ESPN had this quote from 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." -- former Twins star and Hall of Famer
My original post:
Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew announced this week that he was losing his battle with esophageal cancer and was no longer going to go through treatments and was entering hospice care. Not much else to say about that.
'Killer' (that doesn't seem like an appropriate moniker right now) is one of those players that seemed to draw fans to him in droves. The first post season baseball games I attended were the very first AL Playoff games in 1969 in Baltimore as they took on the Twins. (My aunt 'set me up' with a family friend for the Saturday game, but that's another story.) Anyway I remember my uncle, devoted Birds fan that he was, saying that he loved Killebrew but he sure hoped he stunk up the place for a couple of days. Thats kind of how things were, everyone seemed to like Harmon Killebrew. Can't say if it was his cool and unique name, his powerful barrel-chested style or his seemingly friendly nature. But whatever it is nobody ever uttered a bad word about him that I ever heard.
Killebrew, as noted on the card's cartoon, was signed by Washington as a 'Bonus Baby' which meant he had to remain on the Senators roster for a couple of seasons beginning in 1954. In '56 he began splitting time between the Nats and their farm clubs but in 1959, having never really given indication that he could succeed at the highest level, he came into his own. That year he grabbed a starting job and put up numbers that earned him MVP votes and his first All Star appearance.
That was the first of six times he led or tied for the AL homer crown. Over the course of 22 seasons, in Washington, Minnesota and for one final year Kansas City, Harmon Killebrew smacked 573 homers, was named to 12 All Star teams, took home the 1969 MVP trophy and in general punished opponents around the American League.
There is an interesting subplot that involves Killebrew and the distinctive MLB logo seen near the bottom of this post. Is the logo based on this picture?
Harmon thinks so and addresses it in a USA Today story. The guy who designed the logo claims it isn't. Uniwatch blogger and ESPN contributer Paul Lukas delved into it further with an ESPN article.
BTW...it doesn't show in the scan but I put a crease and a gouge in this card when I was removing it from the grading case it came in. I'll be more careful next time.