Former MLB slugger Harmon Killebrew’s battle with esophageal cancer ended today, and the Minnesota Twins are working with the Seattle Mariners to honor his memory during their game tonight. Flags will be flown at half-staff during the game. A moment of silence will also be observed, and a video tribute will air at the end of the first inning.
Killebrew passed on Tuesday in Scottsdale, Ariz. He was 74 years old. The disease was diagnosed in December, and treatments began thereafter. They proved unsuccesful, though, and he entered hospice care on Friday. He released a statement saying “I have exhausted all options with respect to controlling this awful disease. My illness has progressed beyond my doctors’ expectation of cure.”
“No individual has ever meant more to the Minnesota Twins organization and millions of fans across Twins Territory than Harmon Killebrew,” Twins president Dave St. Peter said. “Harmon will long be remembered as one of the most prolific home run hitters in the history of the game and the leader of a group of players who helped lay the foundation for the long-term success of the Twins franchise and Major League Baseball in the Upper Midwest.”
MLB Commissioner Bud Selig added “I am truly saddened by the loss of Harmon Killebrew, one of the great human beings I have ever known. All of baseball has lost a true gentleman who represented the Minnesota Twins with class and grace for decades. Harmon was as tough and feared a competitor on the field as the game has ever seen, while off the field he touched everyone he encountered with his sensitive and humble nature. He was not only a Hall of Fame player, but a Hall of Fame person.”
Fellow Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry didn’t face “Killer” until late in Killebrew’s career. Still, Perry referred to him as “Ma Bell” due to his propensity to hit “long distance.” Killebrew won six American League home run championships along with a Most Valuable Player Award in 1969. He played in a World Series and amassed 393 home runs in his career. No other player hit more home runs in the 60’s.
Killebrew is survived by his second wife, Nita, and nine children from his two marriages.