As an eight-year-old baseball nut in Minnesota, I naturally idolized hometown hero Harmon Killebrew. The Minnesota Twins slugger died today at the age of seventy-four from esophageal cancer. His death was not unexpected. Four days ago, he released a statement that he was discontinuing treatment to enter hospice care, where he would live out his final hours in peace and comfort, surrounded by his loved ones.
While the news that Harmon was near the end may have been a shock, it was no surprise that he would reach out to his fans in this way one more time. Harmon was known for his kind heart, gentle nature and rapport with fans, who still cherished the memory of Harmon Killebrew launching yet another blast into the bleachers.
I was fortunate to meet Harmon twice as an adult. Around 1986, Harmon was making an appearance at the Shinders bookstore in Burnsville. I worked at a different Shinders location on the weekends but was given the honor of helping to oversee the event. I was standing next to Harmon, who was sitting at a table signing autographs for his legion of adoring fans. I mentioned that he had hit 583 homers. “No,” he cheerfully corrected me. “573.” I was mortified. Like a golfer standing over a two-foot putt, I had choked. Big time. I had always prided myself on my encyclopedic recall of baseball statistics and could easily rattle off the names and totals of all of the members in the 500 Homer club. But standing next to a living legend from my childhood, my brain had short-circuited. Deflated, I meekly and humbly apologized. Harmon just smiled as if my faux pas was nothing. It was nothing, of course. Still, I felt cheap.
My second encounter with Harmon came in 2000, which I wrote about in an earlier post. Click here to read it.
Farewell, Harmon. You will be sorely missed. More importantly, you will always be fondly remembered.
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ABOUT PHIL BOLSTA
Phil is the author of Through God’s Eyes: Finding Peace and Purpose in a Troubled World, a comprehensive guide to living a spiritual life. Who will benefit from reading it?
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