Long Live The Killer
May 17, 2011 12:21 PM   Subscribe

"The Killer," Harmon Killebrew, a slugger for the Minnesota Twins (formerly Washington Senators) has died today at 74.

Killebrew was known as a gentle person who inspired the best in his teammates.

Rememberances include:

Twin Cities Pioneer Press
Minneapolis Star Tribune

Many say he was the inspiration for the MLB logo, but that is not confirmed.
posted by Clinging to the Wreckage (33 comments total)
. (>
posted by oneironaut at 12:28 PM on May 17, 2011

posted by hippybear at 12:28 PM on May 17, 2011

His statement from a couple days ago.
posted by fluffycreature at 12:29 PM on May 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

Man. Remember when Minneapolis used to have a baseball team?
posted by yeti at 12:32 PM on May 17, 2011


Man, that was quick, but dignified.
posted by tigrefacile at 12:32 PM on May 17, 2011

The original pure power hitter, and a good human being too. RIP.
posted by RogerB at 12:38 PM on May 17, 2011

That is quite sudden after the press release. I hope he was able to find the comfort he expressed.
posted by yeti at 12:40 PM on May 17, 2011

posted by drezdn at 12:41 PM on May 17, 2011

What a kind thought to use that statement to turn the spotlight on hospice and the good work they do.

posted by S'Tella Fabula at 12:44 PM on May 17, 2011 [2 favorites]

posted by Thorzdad at 12:44 PM on May 17, 2011

I saw Killebrew play several times when I was a youngster. I was a Tiger fan in those days, and it seemed like he was always beating us. A great player.

posted by steambadger at 12:46 PM on May 17, 2011

Great memorial post from Joe Posnanski:
Naturally, the reporters began to call him Killer. The nickname, in many ways,was an absurdity. "Killer" fit Killebrew the way "Jazz" fits Utah or "responsible" fits government. He was so quiet and gentle that, when one reporter asked him if he had any hobbies Killebrew said, without apparent irony, that he liked washing dishes at home. He had married his high school sweetheart, and they were raising a family, and there was just nothing violent about his nature. As Barbara Heilman wrote in Sports Illustrated: "You can't look an abstraction of amiability in the eye and call it 'Killer,' day after day, no matter how hard it hits." [...]

As a hitter, he was ahead of his time. His high-walk, big-power numbers would anticipate the 1990s, when various factors -- steroids not being the least of these, though weight training and advances in diet and so on played their role -- would give many players the superhuman strength of Harmon Killebrew. At the time, though, Killebrew was different. He was apart. He was larger than life.

And, as a person, he was endlessly gracious. When word spread late last week that Harmon Killebrew was no longer going to fight the cancer that has struck him, that he was ready to accept his fate, there was a thousand stories told of Killebrew's small kindnesses, bits of advice he gave to players, moments he took to talk with fans, compliments he gave to umpires, smiles he offered to anyone who caught his eye. He will live on in baseball's record books, of course, for his 573 home runs and a homer hit per 14.22 at-bats (a better ratio than Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams or Sammy Sosa -- this though he played in a pitcher-dominated era) and his place in the Hall of Fame. But wouldn't we all want to be remembered for making countless people's days brighter?
And Rob Neyer:
But while Killebrew first brought to mind power, his personality couldn't have been more different. Hall of Famer Rod Carew once said of his long-time teammate, "He is a quiet man, and a true gentleman. He commands respect. He always went out and did his job and never complained. Harmon never argued with an umpire. It just wasn't his nature."
posted by RogerB at 12:59 PM on May 17, 2011 [3 favorites]

posted by ZeusHumms at 1:05 PM on May 17, 2011

Saw him play at Fenway during his final season. We were more interested in seeing Rod Carew and the Red Sox players, but in retrospect I'm glad I got to see him swing the bat.

posted by Knappster at 1:13 PM on May 17, 2011

My uncle, a diehard Yankees fan who grew up in the 70s and 80s, had a brush that he called Harmon Killabrush.

posted by ChuraChura at 1:39 PM on May 17, 2011

Damn, there goes a big chunk of my youth, which spanned the Senators and Twins eras. Thanks for the post, and I can't improve on RogerB's comment:

> The original pure power hitter, and a good human being too. RIP.

(Thanks also for your memorial post quotes. They got me choked up, dammit.)
posted by languagehat at 2:02 PM on May 17, 2011

If you're ever at Target Field (which is worth swinging by if you're a baseball fan, even if there is no game), the big gold glove is 520 feet from home plate... Killebrew's longest home run.
posted by starman at 2:05 PM on May 17, 2011

The voice of Herb Carneal, narrating a Killebrew at-bat, via a staticky transistor radio on a warm summer evening -- that's a slice deep out of my childhood, and now both those gentlemen are gone.

posted by Kat Allison at 2:17 PM on May 17, 2011 [2 favorites]

Even though I grew up in Ohio and was nominally an Indians fan, I loved the Twins of the early 70's because of all the great players, Tony Oliva, Rod Carew, Jim "Kitty" Kaat, Bert Blyleven, and of course Killabrew. What a team.
posted by e1c at 2:19 PM on May 17, 2011 [2 favorites]

In the name of Harman.

posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 4:12 PM on May 17, 2011

As a lifelong Twins fan, a very sad day.

posted by chris24 at 4:24 PM on May 17, 2011

posted by lilkeith07 at 4:32 PM on May 17, 2011

Another life-long Twins fan here. R.I.P. Harmon.

My brother and I got autographs from him around '69/70. I had never seen such thick arms on a human being. And like everyone said, the nicest professional athlete you could ever hope to meet.

When Harmon connected it was monumental. Even his pop flies were an event. But he always knew when he had hit one out and he would always watch it sail way over the fence just as he began his slow trot around the bases.
posted by Ber at 4:42 PM on May 17, 2011

RIP, Killer. One of the great sluggers.
posted by jonmc at 4:46 PM on May 17, 2011

posted by marsha56 at 4:51 PM on May 17, 2011

posted by clearly at 5:09 PM on May 17, 2011

A true baseball player. A man. An icon.
(and this from a White Sox fan)

posted by Bighappyfunhouse at 5:44 PM on May 17, 2011

I still have my Harmon Killebrew t-shirt from childhood, I respected and admired him that much although baseball means nothing to me now.

posted by kuppajava at 6:10 PM on May 17, 2011


I was always a National League girl, but I also respected and admired him.

Unfortunately, baseball doesn't mean much to me, either, anymore. Perhaps that will change.
posted by jgirl at 7:00 PM on May 17, 2011

posted by Vibrissae at 7:03 PM on May 17, 2011

Wow. There's a name from my past and a great ballplayer. I was a Twins fan as a kid but in the early 70s it seemed like all the players I knew from "my team" were being traded away. I never got over that sense that a familiar set of names had been turned into commodities and sort of lost interest. I'll always remember with fondness however, that great lineup of Carew, Oliva, and Killebrew.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 8:19 PM on May 17, 2011

Jim Caple's piece on ESPN.com about Killibrew was very good, too: http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/columns/story?columnist=caple_jim&id=6549955

My uncles & aunts are of Molitor's generation and knew him from the neighborhood (and he and Mauer went to my high school). It's nice that they brought Molitor in to comment: two very good guys.
posted by wenestvedt at 8:54 AM on May 18, 2011


I am now old enough that the pro athletes of my childhood have started dieing of what is essentially old age.

Tick Tick Tick....
posted by srboisvert at 9:26 AM on May 18, 2011

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