Happy Birthday Harmon!
By Craig Muder
The gray hair and quick smile make the nickname seem almost laughable.
Killer? This light-hearted, friendly man playing golf and shaking hands? But when he swung a bat 40 years ago, there was no one more valuable in the American League.
Harmon Killebrew turns 73 today, and during his career was one of the most feared hitters in the AL. Killebrew topped the 40-home run mark eight times, finished with 573 home runs (fifth all-time at the time of his retirement and still ninth overall) and won the 1969 AL Most Valuable Player Award.
The 5-foot-11 Killebrew made up for in power what he lacked in size — yet was a limber enough fielder to play more than half of his big league games at either third base or left field. He led his Minnesota Twins to the postseason three times and was named to 13 All-Star teams.
Today, Killebrew remains an ardent ambassador of baseball — and one of the game’s true gentlemen.
But for baseball fans in the 1960s — especially those of opposing teams — Killebrew’s lethal nickname was truly appropriate.
Happy birthday, Harmon.
Craig Muder is director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.