Harmon Killebrew, former first and third baseman as well as left fielder for the Minnesota Twins, was better known to baseball fans as “Killer” and “Hammerin’ Harmon”. He moved to Minnesota with the Washington Senators in 1961 and would make it his home for the next 19 years where he would win the 1969 AL MVP, as well as getting the honour of being named to 13 All-Star teams throughout his career.
In 1977 he founded the Danny Thompson Memorial Golf Tournament with former Idaho congressman Ralph Harding in honour of Danny Thompson; a teammate of Killebrew’s who suffered from leukemia during his stint in the big league before passing away at the age of 29 in 1976. This event takes place every year in late August in Sun Valley, Idaho and has donated more than $8.6 million to leukemia and cancer research since being founded in 1977. In 1990, Killebrew founded The Harmon Killebrew Foundation; a non-profit organization that is dedicated to enriching the quality of life by promoting both positive and healthful participation in sports – especially baseball, by partnering with other organizations to raise funds for their missions of promoting mental and physical health, education, self-sufficiency and community service.
The Minnesota Twins have honoured Killebrew by retiring his number 3 amongst the rafters along with other great Twins players as well as Jackie Robinson, they have named the street on the south side of the Mall of America – the former site of Metropolitan Stadium, “Killebrew Drive”, have a larger than life size statue of him located outside Target Field and they even named Gate 3 on the southeast (centerfield) side of the stadium in his honour.
Killebrew announced on May 13, 2011, that he was ceasing treatment and entering the hospital to hopefully find a cure for his esophageal cancer. Just four days later he passed away at his home in Scottsdale, Arizona after receiving news from the doctors that his disease was incurable at that point. Michael Cuddyer who first met Killebrew when he was a 21-year old prospect out of college, said that the players want to wear the 1961 Twins home jerseys for the remainder of the home games for the 2011 season in honour of Killebrew.
“I never watched him play. The only way I do know him is as a mentor, as a genuine person,” Cuddyer said in a statement. “He was a father figure to pretty much everybody he met. That says it all.”
He sits 11th all-time on Major League Baseball’s top home run hitters and is portrayed in the logo that is known worldwide to everyone. Gone but not forgotten, Harmon Killebrew will always be remembered not just in Minnesota but all over North America. Every time someone takes a look at the Major League Baseball logo, they won’t help but think about Harmon Killebrew; the man they called “Killer” because of how far he was able to launch the ball with one swing of the bat.
R.I.P. Harmon Killebrew
June 29, 1936 – May 17, 2011
To learn more about The Harmon Killebrew Foundation, visit http://www.harmonkillebrewfoundation.org/mission.cfm
To learn more about the Danny Thompson Memorial Golf Tournament, visit http://www.dannythompsonmemorial.com/