A Sad Friday the 13thPublished 10:46am Saturday, May 14, 2011
Friday the 13th wasn’t a very good day. The number 13 has always been my number as I have worn that number most of my life when I have played ball. Not all the time, but when it was available that was my number.
I always looked at Friday the 13th as my day but this Friday the 13th was not a good one. I woke up that morning and went to the Star Tribune and the first thing I read was that my boyhood idol, Harmon Killebrew, was going into Hospice care with his cancer. We all know that when someone goes into Hospice the end is near and that just kills me to know that Harmon is that close to the end.
As much as Kirby Puckett was loved in the 80’s and 90’s, Killebrew was the father of Twins baseball. He was the first star of this new team and remained its franchise face even with the likes of Tony Oliva and Rod Carew. Everyone loves the home run and Killebrew was one of the best in that department in the history of baseball. I saw a statistic that I didn’t know the other day, he is second to Babe Ruth on the all time list of players hitting 40 or more home runs in a season.
He didn’t just hit home runs he launched them. Very few players could hit a ball so high and so far as our beloved Killer. People talk about hitters with sweet swings and they usually talk about guys who hit for high average. In my mind Killebrew had the sweetest power hitting swing that ever was and is something I can shut my eyes and see and marvel at the power it would create.
Harmon was not only the father of the Twins with his on field abilities, but he was one of the nicest guys in all of baseball. When you hear people talk about him it is the man he was they talk about first even before his 573 career home runs. He cared about people more than anything else and the Twins have always had character players and stars throughout the years and it all traces back to Harmon.
Ted Williams once said of Harmon that no other hitter in history took more advantage of what he could do more than Harmon did. He said Harmon was a power hitter and he knew that is what he needed to do to help the team and he did and did it good enough to put him in the Hall of Fame. He sacrificed his batting average a little to drive in runs.
It’s hard when one of your idols leaves as a part of your youth goes along with him. It makes me realize I am getting older and although I wouldn’t call it sad but very reflective.
The day didn’t get better as just when I was going to go to bed, the news comes across the Twins game that former Wild player Derek Boogaard was found dead in his apartment. If you are a reader of the Oldtimers bog, you will know that I was a big Boogie fan. Boogie and Marion Gaborik were my favorite Wild players for different reasons but they both made me pay attention a little more when they were in the game.
When Gabby was in the game I would sit at the edge of my seat in anticipation of seeing something spectacular. He is so fast and can handle the puck so well any time he touched it there was a chance he was going to score.
I got to the edge of my seat when Boogie entered the game because there was always a chance for a fight. Boogie was the enforcer, the goon that has always been so popular in