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Harmon Killebrew

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In the pre-steroids era, the most fearsome home-run hitter in the American League not named Babe Ruth (Mickey Mantle was a switch-hitter) was named Harmon Killebrew. The surname seemed to fit, as the husky Harmon certainly "killed" the ball, launching many massive moon-shots in old-time ball-yards that took the breath away of fans, both home and away. His nickname in baseball, fittingly, was "The Killer". Since 1934 (when the Babe went over to the National League Boston Braves, no other player has hit more home runs in the American League than has Killebrew, and only Hammering Hank Aaron, and the Say-Hey Kid ('Willie Mays' (qv in the National League and the dual-league Frank Robinson (Robby won Most Valuable Player Awards in both the National League with the Reds and in the A.L. with the Orioles) surpass him in total number of circuit clouts until the first of the new lively ball sluggers, Mark McGwire, overcame him in 2001. Harmon Killebrew led the American League six times in home-runs and finished in the top three four other times during his 22-year career. Signed as a bonus baby by the Washington Senators, the precursor to the Twins, he first graced a major league roster in 1954, when he was 18. Under then-extant major league baseball rules, bonus babies like Killebrew and the Brooklyn Dodgers' Sandy Koufax had to be kept on a major league roster. Killebrew didn't finally come into his own until 1959, when the 23-year old slugged 42 dingers to win his first home-run crown after just 13 games and hitting none the year before. All but one year of Killebrew's career mostly was spent with the Washington Senators/Minnesota Twins (the team was relocated to Minneapolis in 1961). Ironically, it was in one of his off-years, when he only played 113 games and slugged only 25 home runes, that Killebrew and the Twins made it the 1965 World Series. They lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers team of fabled pitchers Don Drysdale and (former Bonus Baby and all-time great) Sandy Koufax. Killebrew's Twins also won two divisional titles, in 1969 under manager Billy Martin (when Killebrew won his only Most Valuable Player Award, leading the A.L with 49 home runs and 140 R.B.I.) and in 1970. In 1973, the 37-year-old Killebrew was injured and played in only 69 games, and his power was gone. He was the oldest player still active in the American League at the age of 38 in 1974, his last with the Twins, and in 1975, when he played out his string with the Kansas City Royals. Killebrew's 573 home runs ranks him #2 all-time in the A.L. behind Ruth and ahead of Reggie Jackson, his partner in a Minnesota car dealership. For one year, in 1972 when he surpassed Mickey Mantle on the All-Time list of major league home run hitters, he was ranked #4 in Major League Baseball's record books, before being surpassed by Frank Robinson the following year. Thereafter, for a generation, Killebrew ranked as the #5 home run hitter in big league ball from 1974 through 2000. What is remarkable was that his accomplishment was done during what is now referred to as the "Second Dead-Ball Era" of the 1960s, when pitchers had the upper hand over hitters, and batting averages were much lower than they are now. Despite his awesome slugging and 1,584 career R.B.I., the keepers of the flame of baseball immortality, the Base-Ball Writers of America, kept Killebrew out of the Hall of Fame for five years, holding his low career batting average of .256 against him. Finally, justice was served and "The Killer" was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1984.  See full bio on IMDb »

MLB Legend Harmon Killebrew -- Dead at 74

MLB Legend Harmon Killebrew -- Dead at 74

Minnesota Twins Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew passed away this morning after a battle with esophageal cancer.The baseball legend died in his home in Scottsdale, Arizona with his wife Nita at his… READ MORE >

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