Harmon Killebrew, one of baseball's greatest power hitters, has passed away today at age 74.
Harmon Clayton Killebrew (b. June 29, 1936 in Payette, Idaho) was famous for his ability to hit home runs. Killebrew was an All-State quarterback in high school when Washington Senators’ scout Ossie Bluege saw him playing in an impromptu baseball game. After seeing Killebrew’s raw power, Bluege reported back to the Senators who immediately signed him up to a $30,000 contract. Because of his large bonus, Killebrew was a bonus baby.
Because of the Bonus Rule, he was immediately added to the big league roster in 1954 at the age of 18. He played only small parts for five seasons before finally making it into the lineup regularly in 1959, hitting 42 homers. The Senators moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota to become the Minnesota Twins in 1961.
Killebrew was a stocky 5 ft 11 in, 210 pounds (95 kg) hitter with a short, violent swing that generated tremendous power. Nicknamed “Killer” for his home run hitting ability, Killebrew became one of the American League’s most feared power hitter of the 1960s, belting 40 homers in a season eight times. In 1965 he helped the Twins reach the World Series where they lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Killebrew had his finest season in 1969, hitting 49 home runs, driving in 140 RBI, and winning the MVP Award. Killebrew led the league in home runs six times, in RBI three times, and was named to eleven All Star teams.
Despite his “Killer” nickname and his powerful style of play, Killebrew was in fact a quiet, kind man who was not much given to the partying lifestyle enjoyed by his peers. Asked once what he liked to do for fun, Killebrew replied, “Well, I like to wash dishes, I guess.”
Injuries reduced his effectiveness in the early 1970s, and after a one-year stint with the Kansas City Royals he chose to retire. Killebrew hit 573 home runs in his career (eighth best all time, as of 2005) and drove in 1,584 runs. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1984; the first Minnesota Twin to be so honored. He is, by a wide margin, the all time homerun leader for players born in the state of Idaho.
Following his retirement, Killebrew became a successful entrepreneur in insurance, financial planning, and car sales. In 1990 he retired from business to pursue endorsement and charity work, especially in the fields of preventive and palliative health care charities and causes.
|1955 Topps Rookie Card|
|1959 Home Run Derby|
|1961 Peter's Meats|