A memory of youth draped in black

May 17, 2011 | 8 comments
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0-harmon-killebrewI was saddened to hear today that a central part of one of my fondest childhood memories is no longer here. Baseball great Harmon Killebrew died this morning following a six month battle with cancer. He was 74.

As a youth I remember watching Killebrew play in games on TV. As an adult I learned that he was the most honored of the dozens of Mormons who have played in Major League Baseball, the only one to make the Hall of Fame. [One other player who was baptized as a child, but no longer claims to be Mormon, is also in the Hall of Fame. By my count a total of 75 Mormons have played in the majors.] He is still #11 on the list of those who hit the most home runs, with 573.

More recently, I’ve also learned that Killebrew, despite his apparent inactivity in the Church, is still a good example for the Church. Killebrew is now known for his generosity and charity, as well as for simply being a very nice man (the tributes to Killebrew here are enlightening). In addition, as I understand it, his family is largely active in the Church.

For all our emphasis in the Church today, it is nice to remember that activity in the Church is not always the same as being a good person.

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8 Responses to A memory of youth draped in black

  1. Left Field on May 17, 2011 at 11:07 pm

    I watched Killebrew on TV hit his 500th home run against my Orioles. (And only a month later, I was in the ballpark when Frank Robinson become the 11th member of the 500 HR club.) I remember being startled when Harmon tipped his cap and I discovered he was bald.

    I read that Jack Morris compared him to Ernie Harwell–a fine tribute to both Ernie and Harmon. It’s already been a year since we lost Harwell.

  2. Sonny on May 17, 2011 at 11:49 pm

    To be that well loved, that well remembered, is a testament to how he touched lives in a manner which, in my opinion, only a truly great and humble man or woman can. To me that is the essence of leading a successful life.

  3. Hunter on May 18, 2011 at 12:32 am

    Agreed. Thanks.

  4. Bill of Wasilla on May 18, 2011 at 2:11 am

    “For all our emphasis in the Church today, it is nice to remember that activity in the Church is not always the same as being a good person.”

    Yep. Sad that he died so young. I had not heard his name spoken for many years – perhaps decades.

  5. Bob on May 18, 2011 at 8:44 am

    I too grew up watching Killebrew at his craft. He was one of those who made a boy’s game__into a man’s game.

  6. Last Lemming on May 18, 2011 at 9:18 am

    I lived in Minnesota during the 1966 and 1967 seasons and had some wonderful memories of the four games I attended.

    * I saw Greg Nettles hit his first major league home run.
    * I saw Mickey Mantle strike out as a pinch hitter.
    * I saw Harmon Killebrew hit a grand slam.

    Then I found one of those websites with the box scores of every game ever played and had adjust my memories.

    * It was Greg Nettles’ first major league hit (a double), not a home run.
    * Mickey Mantle also hit a double in his only appearance as a pinch hitter in Metropolitan Stadium during those two seasons. (I must have remembered one of his strikeouts when he was in the starting lineup).
    * But Harmon Killebrew did, in fact, hit a grand slam exactly as I remembered it. Thanks for that, Harm.

  7. William Miller on September 17, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    I Wished I Knew him better,but I don’t,and that’s kinda sad to me.I have some of his cards,but knot as much as I’d like to have.Most of them are Leauge Leaders.But,I do have a card of him by himself.It’s an old card,so don’t worry.I just can’t believe that he was gone at a certain age.74 is a low number.I’ve seen people with cancer,and they have survived it.Sure,they wouldn’t act like you or I would,but at least they got out of it.Some of them are in wheelchairs,some of them it’s hard to get out of bed,on the couch,in to bed,stuff like that.And,it’s hard even to feed yourself.Don’t forget talking.Last time I was talking to someone,all I heard was “Mm,Mm,Mm,Mm,Mm,Mm.” And it gets fustrating quick.I guess that’s what Harmon Killebrew went through in his last day’s on this earth.