Lancelot Links postsWednesday May 18, 2011
Lancelot Links: Harmon Killebrew Edition
There's a lot of great writing out there on Harmon Killebrew, the Twins slugger who died yesterday, at the age of 74, of esophageal cancer. Here are a few favorites:
- The New York Times has a well-written obituary by Richard Goldstein, with a photo that feels like the quintessential Killebrew swing: balanced, extended, all out. They get the story right--born in a farming community in Payette, Idaho, recommended to the Washington Senators by a U.S. Senator, the quantity and quality of the homeruns, the quality of the man--but they also dig up quotes from Fay Vincent's oral history, “We Would Have Played for Nothing.” Then there's this gem:
He made sure that his autographs for young fans were legible.
“I had a doctor’s signature,” the former Twins outfielder Torii Hunter told The Star Tribune in recalling the time Killebrew looked at his autograph several years ago. “I had a ‘T’ and an ‘I’ and a dot-dot. He said, ‘What the hell is this?’ He said, ‘If you play the game this long, make sure people know who you are.’ ”
The bat Harmon used to hit homer #573. (As a Royal, against the Twins.)
- As if on cue, Jim Salisbury tells us why it matters that kids can read your autograph, as he recounts a day outside Fenway Park in 1973 when he met Killebrew. Salisbury got to meet him again in 2007, this time as a professional, and regaled him with the story:
Killebrew could not have been more of a gentleman. He laughed when I told him I thought he was the trainer. He smiled when I thanked him for being so kind to me during that brief 1973 encounter in the underbelly of Fenway Park. “That makes me feel good,” Killebrew said. “I'd hate to think I wasn't nice and respectful to someone.”
A '60s bumper sticker ... now under glass at Target Field.
- Here's that 1963 Sports Illustrated cover story on Killebrew that everyone's been quoting lately—particularly the line about what kind of hobbies he has: “'Just washing the dishes, I guess,' says Harmon, trying to help.” Irony: SI talks up how ignored Killebrew is ... even as their cover story on him doesn't really put him on the cover. The cover is bat and ball. You gotta open the fold-out to see the man himself.
- You can also go to the SI vault and read old articles on the man. I'd always wondered whether, on the heels of Damn Yankees, and with the rise of Killebrew the homerun hitter, if someone made the inevitable Joe Hardy allusion. They did. Then we get this great quote:
“People have been comparing me to Joe Hardy, the hero of the musical Damn Yankees,” Killebrew told the group, referring to the George Abbott-Douglass Wallop hit show of a few years back. “You might be interested to hear what Bob Addie told me the other night after I had struck out against the Yankees to end the game. 'You may look like Joe Hardy to some,' Addie told me, 'but today you were more like Andy Hardy.' ”
- A nice photo gallery from CBS News. But they fail to mention, in photo 11, that those three players—Robinson, Jackson, Killebrew—weren't just 500-homerun guys. They all hit homeruns in that 1971 All-Star Game.
- The Minneapolis Star-Tribune, in their slideshow, gets it right. But who knows what the story is behind the photo of Killebrew and Hank Greenberg. Plus... I mean, The New York Times has been hawking its photos of Mickey Mantle, Lou Gehrig, et al., for years now, and I always thought the Star-Tribune should do the same, from their extensive archive, with photos of Killebrew, Oliva, Carew, Tovar, etc. So far nothing. What—don't you guys need the money?
- Also from the Strib: the fans who gathered at Target Field yesterday. I'm with Kevin Lindquist: “I've never been so sad about [the death of] someone I didn't know.”
- I'd never heard this song, “Harmon Killebrew,” by Jeff Arundel, until today. Jeff: I, too, wrote a letter to Harmon Killebrew about the time you did. That's how I got that autographed photo. That's what came back. BTW: Where did you get the Bob Casey recording? So cool.
- Stats & Info, on ESPN.com, give us of some of Killebrew's stats. They remind us that no one hit more homeruns in the deadball 1960s. Not Aaron, not Mays, not anyone.
- Rob Neyer, over at Baseball Nation, reminds us of the length of those homeruns. It makes me think again that if Killebrew played in a bigger market, a New York or Boston, oh, the stories we'd all know. Oh, the stories we woud've heard on Ken Burns' Baseball (instead of nada):
In 1962, Killebrew became the first player to hit a ball over the left-field roof at Tiger Stadium; only three others would accomplish the feat before Tiger Stadium closed 37 years later.
In 1964, Killebrew hit the longest-ever measured home run at Baltimore's Memorial Stadium.
In 1967, Killebrew hit the longest-ever measured home run at Minnesota's Metropolitan Stadium (today the landing spot, 520 feet from home plate, is commemorated by a stadium seat inside the Mall of America).
I had a Twins/Killebrew pennant just like this one in my room when I was a kid. This one is under glass at Target Field.
- ESPN's tribute. Some nice quotes, including this one from Killer: “I found out early in life that I could hit a baseball farther than most players and that's what I tried to do.”
- One of my favorites, of course, which I linked to last week, is Josh Wilker's 2007 post about his 1975 Harmon Killebrew card:
I was just learning the basic language of baseball statistics in 1975, and so took in Harmon Killebrew’s long litany of 40-homer, 100-plus RBI years with the pure and enthusiastic fascination of the true beginner. I have an attraction to anonymous players, to failure and ignominy, to the fallen and the wilkerized, but I am as drawn to the players whose feats stand in bold opposition to the general entropy of the universe as any other baseball fan. I am sure that I found this card soothing. There is greatness in the world. There are things that won’t be forgotten.
- Jim Caple, always a pleasure to read, gives us another nice remembrance.
- Once again, with everyone writing about the same baseball subject, Joe Posnanski again manages to write about the best piece out there. He gets to the heart of the baseball story: those first five fruitless years with the Senators as a bonus baby; how most were resigned to the idea that he would go nowhere; and how, during a 17-game stretch in May 1959, he changed their minds. Posnanski brings up the fact, ignored at the time, that for a six-year stretch, from 1966 to 1971, despite his low batting average, Killebrew led the American League in On-Base Percentage with a .401 mark. Posnanski ends with the great battles between Killebrew and ... George Brunet? Yep! Oh, and there's this choice take on the Idaho Senator who discovered him:
Harmon Killebrew had been recommended to the Washington Senators by an actual senator, Idaho Republican Herman Welker, who would mainly be known to history for two unrelated things:
1. Being so closely allied with the reckless demagogue Joe McCarthy that he became known as “Little Joe from Idaho.”
2. Recommending Harmon Killebrew.
- Finally, here's a nice ESPN piece on reaction, mostly player reaction, to Killebrew's death:
Harmon Killebrew was a gem. I can never thank him enough for all I learned from him. He was a consummate professional who treated everyone from the brashest of rookies to the groundskeepers to the ushers in the stadium with the utmost of respect. I would not be the person I am today if it weren't for Harmon Killebrew. He was a Hall of Famer in every sense of the word.
Jane Forbes Clark, chairwoman, National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
Since joining the Hall of Fame family in 1984, Harmon was a beacon of light among his fellow Hall of Famers, always smiling, always enjoying every moment that life delivered at his doorstep.
He never showed you up, no flaps down or anything, just that little number 3 — like Babe Ruth — trotting like he hit 'em before and he would hit 'em again.
He was a bigger Hall of Famer off the field.
Harmon Killebrew during Camera Day at Met Stadium, circa 1969. Note the band-aid on his forearm and the airplane in the background. This photo has been on my wall in one room or another, in one city or another, for the last 20 years.
- State Sen. David Hann (R-Eden Prairie, Minn.) recently introduced a cost-cutting measure that would remove 15,000 single adults from MinnesotaCare and give them vouchers to buy their own health insurance. He argued that this would be better for the state, since it would save money, and better for the individuals, since it gave them a choice. Then Sen. Barb Goodwin (DFL-Columbia Heights) rose and said, basically, “If it's so good, why don't we try it first?” Cue silence followed by sputtering and harrumping. Hann's cost-cutting measure passed but will be vetoed by Gov. Mark Dayton. But good for Goodwin! Full story by Doug Grow at MinnPost.
- Not done yet, the Minnesota Senate then approved a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, 38-27. The house is expected to pass it, too. WTF has happened to my home state? Remember Minnesota Nice? This is Minnesota Nuts. Minnesota Backwards. Minnesota On-The-Wrong-Side-of-History. Minnesota Shame.
- The sponsor of that bill, who doesn't want a small majority to define marriage (oddly, he's not talking about his own group), and who cited a poll saying 3/4 of the state want to vote on the matter, is named Sen. Warren Limmer of Maple Grove. Here's his website. It includes his email address. He says “Contact me by e-mail.” Please do. I did.
- My wish? Every one of these guys had to be cross-examined by David Boies.
- If that doesn't work, Dan Savage.
- Over at the New York Times, Paul Krugman gives us “2000s 101” in case anyone needs a refresher. And judging from ... everything, most people do.
- Rolling Stone magazine gives us The People v. Goldman Sachs. I'd like to hear more on this.
- One of the nice things about the Seattle International Film Festival, or SIFF, which is opening in week, is that you can see films before New York and LA. Case in point: Last May, I saw “City of Life and Death” and reviewed it here. A year later, Manohla Dargis finally gets off the schnied. (P.S. We don't agree.)
- This year's SIFF schedule is out. The problem, of course, as always, is finding the time to sort through the hundreds of movies available to see what you want to see. Anyone done this yet?
- Meanwhile, at Cannes, Woody Allen's “Midnight in Paris” opened the festival. Mostly to applause.
- Finally, The Grand Salami, the alternative Seattle Mariners program for which I wrote for many years, is finally doing something with its website. It's also on Facebook.
- Josh Wilker writes about why he only writes about baseball cards. Then he writes about Stephen Siller, a firefighter who died on 9/11 in a way that upends his reasoning for why he only writes about baseball cards. And if you're wondering why the George Brett card? Stick around.
- What Jim Walsh wrote on Sept. 11, 2001.
- Andy's parents visit Hanoi.
- Norman Mailer's Manhattan home is up for sale. Shouldn't we be making this into a museum? I'm serious.
- Just as President Obama releases his long-form birth certificate, Superman, the Man of Steel, renounces his U.S. citiizenship. Of course he never had it. He's an illegal alien who got past our defenses during less vigilant times. Bill O'Reilly's going to do a special on why Supes needs to get kicked out of Metropolis.
- The birther controversy feels so over in the wake of the Osama bin Laden news, but this video, “Show me your papers, Negro,” is still worth watching. It'll piss you off all over again.
- From Salon's Alex Pareene: “A patriot's guide to still hating Obama for killing Osama.” One wonders when the right is going to start targeting Pareene himself. One anticipates with what wit Pareene will respond.
- The way Pres. Obama presented the Osama bin Laden news wasn't exciting enough for you? Pareene reimagines the event with the image makers of the Bush adminstration still in charge.
- From the Onion: The five-year-old screenwriter of “Fast Five.” Brilliant.
- ESPN columnist Jayson Stark's stats are always fun. Here he looks at the first month of the baseball season. His rookie of the month? The guy I saw win his first game on April 12.
- I only cheer for the White Sox when they're playing the Yankees. Last month, Brent Lillibridge had me cheering.
- The NY Times' Ben Shpigel on Derek Jeter's lousy start. Shpigel talks batting average when it's really about the slugging percentage. Sure, Jeter's 2011 average is off by 63 points from his career total (.250 vs. .313); but his slugging percentage is off by nearly 200 points (.269 to .450). A bargain at $15 mil per. The Yankees and their money are soon parted.
- Michael Cieply on the battle between theater owners (and James Cameron) vs. the major studios, who want to release films sooner, or immediately, to pay-per-view. I like the theater experience but admit to watching a few newly released films on PPV lately, including “The Housemaid” and “Certified Copy.” It ain't the same but it's easier on a Friday night.
- William Campbell started out with dreams as big as anyone, I'm sure, but in the end he's known for playing a Klingon and being married to the woman who had affairs with both JFK and Sam Giancana. Which is more than most of us will be known for.
- Finally, check out Patricia's big brother, Alex Bradbury, marine biologist, who was once one of Bill Nye's “way cool scientists,” on Deb Slater's “Experience Northwest” show. They're clam digging, and then clam cooking, at Birch Bay State Park. Alex is a natural and the show is well-named. That slate gray sky? That chill wind? Yes, I've experienced it. Every day for six months.
- I hope to write more on Burkhard Bilger's New Yorker profile of David Eagleman and the mysteries of time and the brain, but in the meantime, please read it. Seriously. If you've wondered why time seems to slow down in life-threatening situations, or why time seems slower when you're a kid, Eagleman has answers.
- My friend Jake, drummer for Semisonic, has been big on Jennifer Egan's rock 'n' roll novel, “A Vist from the Goon Squad,” for some time. Now it's won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. I'll have to read it. Here's an excerpt.
- Mayor Koch lives! A second baseman at St. Cloud State in Minnesota, Kent Koch, all of 23 years old, is also his small town's mayor. He's the younget mayor in the U.S. I wonder who's the oldest?
- Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite suggests, in the wake of Paul Ryan's budget proposal, that the Christian right “have some soul searching to do.” Amen.
- A measured piece by Salon's Andrew Leonard on what's wrong with Obama's left critics. Including especially Paul Krugman.
- A nice post from David Schonauer on Tim Hetherington, Chris Hondros, and the bravery and authenticity of war correspondent photographers.
- A Roger Angell piece about Mariano Rivera blowing a save: that's like finding ice cream inside your ice cream.
- Explanding the baseball playoffs? I've always been against it but not this time. Not if they add a wild card team to play the other wild card team in a one-game playoff at the end of the season. It'll give that much more meaning to winning the division. Plus the one-game format, in both leagues, will be exciting. Plus, since it's only one game, it won't push us more deeply into October. (But if they make it a three-game playoffs, I'll be pissed.) Here, ESPN's Jayson Stark, a proponent, delves into the standings since 1995 to see who that extra team would've been. Guess what? Four times it would've been your Seattle Mariners. My oh my.
- Sarah Rimer waxes nostalgic, with sometimes too much wax, on the high school years of Manny Ramirez: “Before Manny Became Manny.” Those 400-foot homeruns in high-school settings must've been cool to watch.
- Schwarzenegger is back and “The Terminator” is in rights packaging again. But see this Josh Karp article, please. BTW: Terminator with a face lift? Won't that look odd?
- Here's a nice bit of journalism from Jeff Wells, who noticed that the reds and blues seemed oversaturated in Warner Bros. Bluray version of “All the President's Men,” one of my favorite films, and went to the voice of God for an opinion: DP Gordon Willis himself. Here are some of Willis' comments: “It's all fucked up ... All the medium tones [are wrong] and contrast is way higher than it oughta be.” Wells asked him if he'd called anyone at Warner Home Video since the Bluray came out. “And what are they gonna say? 'We're sorry and we'll do it all over again?' You call these guys, it's like talking to a head on a stick.” Bummer. And I was excited for the BluRay of “President's Men.”
- Finally, a birth certificate. Will it stop all the noise and blather and distraction? Of course not. Americans think we faked the moon landing (we can't travel through space...), there are aliens in Nevada (...but they can), and 9/11 was an inside job. But maybe it'll stop some of the noise and blather and distraction. Until next week.
- James Rocchi is one of the better movie critics out there, by which I mean he's one of the better writers out there who happens to be writing about movies. This diatribe against Comments fields is indicative. The ending cuts to the heart of the matter: “I'm a grownup. I put my name on what I say. And if you can’t do that, or can’t get why that matters in an age of willful stupidity and inhuman rudeness, then, really, who cares what you bellow from your rotten, wounded idiot heart?”
- Andrew Sullivan liveblogs Pres. Obama's budget speech. He was impressed. As was anyone who had a heart and a sense of history.
- Hendrik Hertzberg has a nice piece on the same speech. Basically: About effin' time. Meanwhile, “The Daily Show” missed the boat and went for the obvious.
- Then there's audio of Pres. Obama being less politic about the Republicans. More, more! This is a case that needs to be made and made now: tax the rich, regulate Wall Street, provide a social safety net for our most vulnerable, which may include us.
- And if you want to really scare yourself, read Jeffrey Toobin's “Talk of the Town” piece on the U.S. Supreme Court's continued 5-4 majority belief that corporations are human beings and money is speech, and what this means for 2012.
- I didn't know “Soul Surfer” was supposed to be a Christian movie until I read Andrew O'Hehir's piece on why modern Christian movies are so lousy: “Does the Lord really want to be glorified by way of something that looks like an especially tame episode of 'Baywatch'?”
- Nice “Big Picture” post about Sidney Lumet fighting the blacklist.
- Even nicer: David Thomson on the regretful eyes of Marion Cotillard.
- My friend Andy blogs about dong, which is to say Vietnamese currency, and the quick route to becoming a Vietnamese millionaire. Just add $250 U.S. He also forced me to look up “numismatic.”
- My friend Kristin has spent the year taking a photo a day. I like the week of yellow.
- Let's go out with some music, shall we? The Damnwells have a new album and this is the first single from it (if we still do singles): “The Great Unknown.” Nice video. Nice message. Ballsy opening line.
L'opposite de Piaf: je regrette tout.
Twitter: @ErikLundegaardTweets by @ErikLundegaard