Today, Minnesota Twins fans, baseball fans, and the world at large lost a hero with the passing of Harmon Killebrew at age 74 due to esophogeal cancer.
There are so many tributes to Harm floating around in cyberspace that I don’t even know where to begin. Heck, I didn’t even see the guy play, but when EVERYONE who know says he was their hero as a child, a legend is pretty much the closest way of describing him.
I could go so many directions here, but I’ll keep it short and say this: When all is said in done, it really doesn’t matter how many home runs he hit or how many ballgames he won/lost. Those moments may produce a lot of nostalgia, but the real reason there are a lot of misty eyes in Minnesota right now is because of the type of man Harmon was. I’ve never heard a harsh word said about him from anyone, and he was always a model for a good, clean, simple life filled with the things and people he loved. Referencing the “hook” of the above video tribute, I think that Harmon DID get all those letters (or at least tried!). He also valued them deeply.
When Babe Ruth, the greatest pre-Harmon slugger, was dying of cancer (also of the throat, oddly enough), he was known to quip “The termites have got me.” Well, sadly those same “termites” got Harm today, along with a big portion of Minnesota childhood for the baby boomers.
As far as relating this to the current Twins team that is mired in a deep slump, I remember a certain ballclub just a few years ago that turned a tragic event:
…into the inspiration for a remarkable comeback. That team, of course, was the 2006 Twins, who (on May 17) were 9.5 GB in the division and ended up going to the playoffs.
Preview (12-27, 5th, 3.5 GB CWS): Francisco Liriano (2-5, 7.07) vs. Felix Hernandez (4-3, 3.36)