The Minnesota Twins baseball Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew died yesterday morning after losing his battle with esophageal cancer. He was diagnosed with the disease in December 2010 and just last week Killebrew announced that his cancer was incurable and that he had decided not to undergo any further treatment except palliative care in a hospice. He said he was settling in for his last few days with his family.
Killebrew was at home in Scottsdale, Arizona with his wife Nita and their family at his side when he died yesterday. The couple had nine children together.
Harmon Killebrew was an affable, big-swinging Hall of Famer whose tape-measure home runs made him the cornerstone of the Minnesota Twins and perhaps the most popular player in the team’s 51-year history.
“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. He said Killebrew’s legacy “will be the class, dignity and humility he demonstrated each and every day as a Hall of Fame-quality husband, father, friend, teammate and man.”
The Minnesota House observed a minute’s silence at the state capitol in his honor.
Republican Bob Barrett recalled how his father once did contracting work at Killebrew’s home and “couldn’t remember having met a nicer man.”
Barrett said, “He was a great player, but he was an even greater man.”
Killebrew was elected to the baseball Hall of Fame in 1984, the first Twin to receive that honor. His No. 3 jersey was retired in 1975 when his playing career ended.
In retirement, Killebrew became a successful businessman in insurance, financial planning and car sales. He also traveled the country with baseball memorabilia shows and returned to the Twin Cities regularly, delighting in conversations with fans and reunions with teammates.
He will be sadly missed by baseball fans and everyone involved with the game.