Slugger Harmon Killebrew accepts an award at 2004 Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremonies July 25, 2004 in Cooperstown, New York.
Harmon Killebrew passed away Tuesday at the age of 74 from esophageal cancer.
The Hall of Famer began a long and successful career with the Washington Senators (now Minnesota Twins) in 1954. Killebrew hit 573 home runs in his career, good for 11th all time.
Patrick Reddington over at Federal Baseball gives some context to the start of Killebrew's big-league career with the Sens:
Harmon Clayton "Killer" Killebrew was just 17-years-old (take that Bryce Harper!), six days shy of his 18th birthday when he made his Major League debut with the Washington Senators on June 23, 1954 in Comiskey Park in Chicago, Illinois. Killebrew, a so-called "Bonus Baby", entered the game as a pinch runner for pinch hitter Clyde Vollmer and advanced as far as second base before a flyout to left by Johnny Pesky (of Pesky Pole fame, yes) stranded Killebrew there.
Definitely check out the post for more on his humble beginnings.
Let's take a look back at some of his career highlights:
- June 19, 1954: Killebrew was signed to a $50,000 contract by the Washington Senators. Killebrew was batting .847 for a semi-professional team and that eventually led to his signing.
- 1959: Killebrew earned his first starting job at third base after Eddie Yost was traded to Detroit. He hit 42 home runs and was named to his first All-Star Team.
- 1961: The Senators moved to Minnesota and became the Twins. Killebrew was named team captain and hit 46 home runs, breaking the franchise record he had tied two years earlier.
- 1965: The Twins won the American League pennant for the first time. Killebrew hit his only World Series home run against the Dodgers. The Twins lost the Series in seven games.
- 1969: Killebrew rebounded from a career-threatening hamstring injury the year before to win his only MVP Award. He played in all 162 games, hit 49 home runs and had a career-high 140 RBIs.
- 1975: After being released from the Twins, Killebrew signed a 1-year contract with the Kansas City Royals. After a disappointing season, he chose to retire.
- 1976-88: Killebrew was a broadcaster for the Twins (1976-78), Oakland Athletics (1979-82), California Angels (1983), and back with the Twins (1984-88).
- 1984: Harmon Killebrew was inducted into the Hall of Fame with 83.1 percent of the vote in his fourth year of eligibility.
- Killebrew was one of the most dangerous hitters to ever step into the box. However, he was also one of the nicest and most humble players to play the game. Though quiet and reserved, he always had a kind word to share with teammates, opponents and umpires.
Baseball has lost a good man. Killebrew will forever be remembered for his tape measure home runs, but it was his humility and kindness that truly made him a great.
"Life is precious and time is a key element. Let's make every moment count and help those who have a greater need than our own." -- Harmon Killebrew.