x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Big hitter Harmon Killebrew remembered for having bigger heart

The death of Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew earlier this week was a sad moment. Despite his nickname - "Killer" - he was a true gentleman and an even better person than he was a slugger.

The death of Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew earlier this week was a sad moment. Despite his nickname - "Killer" - he was a true gentleman, an even better person than he was a slugger.

Not particularly big beyond his muscular arms, Killebrew hit 573 home runs, which, at the time of his retirement, placed him fifth on baseball's all-time list. He hit 40 or more homers eight times (and 39 in another season), making him one of the game's most feared and consistent power hitters.

In time, Killebrew would find himself passed on the list by a variety of hitters who surely had some pharmacological help, but Killebrew never expressed any dismay at being eclipsed.

That wasn't Killebrew's way.

He was kind, polite and friendly, respected and admired by teammates and opponents, and a long-time favourite of fans. He was unfailingly patient with those seeking autographs and more than generous with his time.

"You never know," Killebrew once said. "That might be the only time a person sees you play or meets you. I always tried to remember that."

Killebrew spent his first seven years in Washington, before the then-Senators moved to Minnesota and became the Twins. It was fitting that he became so associated with Minnesota, because he exuded a gentle Midwestern spirit.

Former teammates wept openly when Killebrew passed, a tribute not to his hitting prowess but his humanity.

sports@thenational.ae