573 smackers: no evil intentions

Jesse Marinoff Reyes ( Jesse Marinoff Reyes Design, Maplewood, N.J.)

Harmon Killebrew (1936-2011).

The former Minnesota Twins (and Washington Senators, and ever so briefly, Kansas City Royals) corner infielder and left fielder died last year at 74 of esophageal cancer. In a Hall of Fame career (1954-1975) “The Killer” smacked 573 home runs, “11th” on the list, but if you erase the steroid babies it’s actually more like 6th all timeā€”his speciality. He hit 40 home runs in a season eight times, including the 1969 season where he belted 49, with 140 runs batted-in (1,584 career) and earning that year’s Most Valuable Player Award. He was a 13-time All Star and hit more home runs in the 1960s than any other player including the great Mickey Mantle. Indeed, when he retired he had hit more home runs than any American League right-handed player, and was second only to the left-handed Babe Ruth. Of his slugging ability, the humble Killebrew said, “I didn’t have evil intentions, but I guess I did have power.” And how!

Harmon Killebrew.

That intimidating power and menacing reputation at the plate masked an easy-going, unassuming manner. When he was asked what he liked to do in his spare time, compared to the raucous partying of fellow ballplayers of the “Ball Four” era (which hasn’t changed much in the ensuing years), Killebrew’s answer was, “Well, I like to wash dishes, I guess.” They don’t make ‘em like that no more.

The Minnesota Twins retired his number #3 in 1975.

Harmon Killebrew, card no. 61
Kellogg’s “xograph” 3D baseball card, 1970

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