May 17

Harmon Killebrew Dies at the age of 74

We are just hearing the sad news that Harmon Killebrew passed away this morning at his home in Scottsdale, Arizona, at the age of 74. Late last week the news broke that Harmon decided to stop his cancer treatment for esophageal cancer. As it was very sad to hear about Harmon stopping the treatment it is somewhat comforting to know he is no longer in pain.

Harmon Clayton Killebrew was born on June 29, 1936, in the small town of Payette, Idaho. When Harmon was only 17 years-old he was drafted by the Washington Senators. The young man from Idaho found himself in his first major league game four days “June 23, 1954” after he was drafted. On August 23, 1954, Killebrew recorded his first hit against the Philadelphia Athletics in the top of the second inning when he hit a single off of Alex Kellner. Harmon went on to hit a double and another single and ended the game by going 3 for 4 with 2 rbi’s and a walk.

After the 1954 season Killebrew played most of his next four seasons in the minor league. In 1959 Harmon had his break out season with the Washington Senators as he made both American League All-Star teams. Harmon ended the 1959 season with 42 home runs and shared the AL home run crown with Cleveland’s Rocky Colavito.

During the 1960 season Harmon was a force to be reckon with as he hit 31 home runs and knocked in 80 runs. The 1960 season ended up being Killebrew’s last season in the Nation’s Capital as the Senators moved to Minnesota.

In Minnesota, Harmon Killebrew will become one of the greatest sluggers the game has ever seen. From 1961 to 1964 Harmon will hit 40 or more home runs each season and ended up leading the league in ’62, ’63 and ’64. Harmon went onto win two more American League home run crowns in 1967 and 1969. For me personally I will always remember the 1969 home run race as Killebrew ended the season 49 taters and local hero Frank “Hondo” Howard ended the season with 48 homers, and a young ballplayer from the Oakland Athletics named Reggie Jackson hit 47 round trippers.

During his days in Minnesota, Harmon led the Twins to the 1965 World Series and to the American League West divisional title in ’69 and 1970. Harmon played 22 seasons in the majors and hit grand total of 573 home runs.  To cap off his wonderful baseball career Harmon was elected into the Hall of Fame in 1984.