Comments on: Harmon Killebrew 1936-2011 This and that about baseball stats. Tue, 16 Jul 2013 17:01:55 +0000 hourly 1 By: moeball Sun, 29 May 2011 19:26:19 +0000 So many thoughts and memories...

...met Harmon in Cooperstown July of '89 at the induction weekend for Yaz & Bench. Harmon was taking a stroll down the street late Saturday night and I was on my way to the one pizza joint that was open...I almost ran up to him to ask for an autograph I was so excited - then it occurred to me - one of the advantages of NOT looking like a baseball player - heavy set bald guy - was that Harmon could peacefully walk down the street without being mobbed, even in Cooperstown. So I just casually walked by him and said "Hi", and he said "Nice evening, isn't it?" and I said, "Yeah, it sure is."
I know it's dumb, but I got a sense right away of how relaxed he was, I can see why everyone always said he was so nice.

Met him at a show years later when I did get his autograph and he was very friendly to talk to. Actually, probably the nicest guys I ever got autographs from were Gaylord Perry and Tony Gwynn, who not only signed stuff but would also have their pictures taken with fans...

I never liked Reggie Jackson as a player or a person. I was glad ESPN did that show "The Bronx is burning" about the summer of 1977 because a lot of people got to see that Bonds was certainly not the original great player to be despised by his teammates. Many of Reggie's NY and Oakland teammates have openly admitted how much they detested Reggie's egotistical attitude. But, as luck would have it, I was at the Angels game in Anaheim on 9/17/84 when Reggie hit his 500th career HR. That classless jerk didn't even thank the fans when they stopped the game for ceremonies. Years later I was at a card show and my wife wanted to meet Reggie - she had brought along my ticket stub from the 500-HR game. To my surprise, Reggie's bodyguard/handler (a lot of players have them nowadays) was all "What's this?" Inspecting the ticket for bombs or something but Reggie grabbed the stub from him and said "That's ok - I know what this is." He actually smiled and signed the ticket stub with a comment about "HR #500". I was surprised how nice he was - it was probably because my wife handed him the ticket. She has that effect on people. She even got Ted Williams to smile and wink at her and everyone had always told me he was a real grouch.

Sad. That's what Willie's legacy is. Not only did I personally see how miserable Mr. "Say Hey" was at shows and other events in public, but in Buck O'Neil's book "The Soul of Baseball", he talks about how he tried to cheer Willie up at an event in Kansas City for the Negro Leagues museum and Willie just wouldn't snap out of it. The boundless joy that people remember from Willie's early playing days is gone forever and he seems terribly depressed. I guess turning 80 earlier this year isn't going to help, either. It's just sad.

As far as how players react when interacting with fans - I find that often how you approach them can really make a big difference. I was at a mall where Maury Wills was signing stuff and he was basically just going "Next!" and acting very abrupt and rude. This was right around the time when Bump was just making the big leagues. I asked Maury about Bump and he got very excited and was clearly quite proud, with the whole "That's my boy!" thing. I heard that he and Bump didn't get along later on but there was no sign of it at that time. Maury was very pleasant to the next several fans that he signed for after I asked about Bump.

That really works with some players. I asked Johnny Bench about his kids one day and he was pulling out wallet photos he was so proud. He was practically humming and whistling he was so cheerful signing after that. Ballplayers are like everybody else, I guess - some topics really turn them on and light up their faces, and some really turn them off.

Finally - liked #44 above's comments on Bob Allison. My first set of Strat-O-Matic cards was the '65 set - of course I liked Harmon Killebrew's card but I was most surprised about Allison's card. I thought "This guy hits under .240 - this card can't possibly be correct" because his card was full of WALKS and HOMERUNS. My brothers were so frustrated because their pitchers couldn't get him out. My first lesson in life that there is more to hitting than Batting Average. I was just a kid - I had never heard of OBP, OPS, WAR or Win Shares or Linear Weights - but I instinctively understood that there was much more to hitting than the media portrayed.

By: dennis Sun, 22 May 2011 17:21:12 +0000 46
No argument that Mike Schmift was the best third baseman who ever lived, but including Killebrew????


Eddie Matthews, George Brett, Wade Boggs and even Ron Santo were all better all around third basement then Killebrew. Killebrew was in the lineup for his power, no one was even going to confuse him with Broooks Robinson or Clete or Ken Bloyer or Aurelio Rodriguez or any very good to great fielding third baseman of that time.

By: Darrel Fri, 20 May 2011 03:00:14 +0000 Killebrew's last home run came as a member of the Royals, but appropriately it was in Minnesota.

By: art kyriazis Thu, 19 May 2011 20:14:06 +0000 Re: Harmon Killebrew

Harmon Killebrew was the quintessential longball hitter, and the best proof that secondary average and on base percentage plus slugging average (OPS) is the number that matters, not batting average. Killebrew & Schmidt are the best 3Bmen, Schmidt better because of his glove, but neither ever had much of a batting average, but both used to knock out 40 HR a year and walk more than 100x a year with routine ease.

In 1959, Killebrew hit 42 HR in GRIFFITH STADIUM in Washington, DC, a notoriously difficult park for HR hitters. He, Bob Allison and Roy Sievers combined for 93 HR that year. Although that team finished last, they featured a young Camilo Pascual and three of the finest RH sluggers the game would ever see, though they must have been brutal on defense. Tuff on LH pitching, though...

With Mickey Vernon gone and now Killebrew, the number of original Washington Senators is slowly dwindling down....though of course he will always be remembered as a Minnesota Twin.

Charlie Manuel of the Phils played with Killebrew from 1969 on with the Twins (Manuel didn't play much on that loaded up team) (2 AL West Division Pennants) and had a lot of nice things to say about Harmon.

He was a really great player.

AK, Philly

By: Zim Wed, 18 May 2011 17:22:31 +0000 Great story Chuck! The more you hear about Harmon's selflessness, the more you admire him.

By: Chuck Wed, 18 May 2011 17:03:26 +0000 I concur to what Tom said in #24; a brief encounter with a celebrity, especially when all you're interested in is an autograph, is hardly grounds enough to form an opinion of someone.

I've met Aaron twice, and by "met" meaning conversationally, the meetings were about fifteen years apart.

The first time was shortly after his HOF induction, probably the spring of '82 or '83. The two things that stand out for me about that one, other than being completely awestruck, was how "big" he was for such a small man. Aaron's not much over five ten, five eleven, but he had the shoulders, upper arms and hands of a man much taller.

The second was he was traveling with a bodyguard. Like everyone else at the time, I was very familiar with the stories of the death threats and the like when he was chasing Ruth, but this was 8 years later and five or six years after he retired.

He was not a conversationalist to be sure, but he was cordial when he spoke. I remember approaching the table where he was signing that you had to hand whatever it was to his bodyguard, and he would look it over and hand it to Aaron for him to sign.

The second time was much different; no bodyguard, although he was with his wife. He seemed much more relaxed and open. I attribute that to being far enough away from his career that the stresses he went through at the end had disappeared.

I digress.

I met Killebrew several times during Alumni functions in Arizona in the '90's, early '00's. I haven't seen him in five or six years since he started his own foundation and charity work the schedules conflicted somewhat.

At the event in 1995 I asked him about Bob Allison, who at the time had recently moved out of the Phoenix area and to a cooler northern area due his suffering from ataxia.

As a kid, probably eight or nine, I read a bio on Allison and he immediately became my favorite player. Despite being a Yankee fan from New England I always would check the Twins' boxscores to see how he did, and, obviously, was then aware of Killer.

Anyway, I mentioned to Killebrew that I wanted to send Allison a card, just to tell him my story and that I was praying for him, and asked if he had an address.

Killebrew handed me his business card and said to call him during the week and he would take care of it.

We made arrangements to meet and I gave him the card; Killebrew would go see him and would routinely take cards and letters and would read them to Allison since he no longer could do things for himself.

Allison died in April of '95, I saw Killebrew shortly thereafter and he came up to me and said Allison enjoyed what I had written.

I'll never forget it.

By: Skeeb Wilcox Wed, 18 May 2011 16:24:31 +0000 Obviously links to pictures aren't allowed or enabled, so you could cut and paste it. Mr. Killebrew was a GREAT man!

By: Skeeb Wilcox Wed, 18 May 2011 16:23:36 +0000 1991 in Buckhannon, WV with my Dad:

By: Doug Wed, 18 May 2011 05:24:09 +0000 @32 and Killebrew's RBI prowess.

Killebrew is one of only 8 players since 1919 to record RBI > 0.75 * Hits in more than 3000 PAs. The others are Ruth, McGwire, Kingman, Greenberg, Fielder, Buhner and Ryan Howard.

By: Jim Branson Wed, 18 May 2011 04:37:38 +0000 What amazes me in that 9,831 plate appearances over 22 seasons Killebrew never had a sacrifice hit. Not even one. Makes sense, I guess. How could any manager ever ask a slugger like that to bunt?