erik lundegaard

Thursday December 12, 2019

Killer

It's December, the country is in the hands of a baby tyrant and a propaganda-spewing cabbal of right-wing idiots, but at least the photo below makes me smile.

When I was a kid in the late 1960s, we did paper drives for school—meaning we pulled our wagons from home to home in our south Minnneapolis neighborhood, asking for old newspapers, then brought them back to the garage to bundle in twine—and I was OK at the asking, but in the twining I was forever distracted by the photos of Twins players like Harmon Killebrew, Tony Oliva, Cesar Tovar. I wanted to cut them out of the papers and pin them to my wall. They didnt have to be stars. Rich Reese was good enough. It just made me feel good, seeing the photos.

This is like that. Decades later, at nearly 57, I pin it to my wall. 

Some Harmon Killebrew stats:

  • He hit more homeruns in the 1960s than anyone in baseball (393). That's right: More even than Hank Aaron (375) and Willie Mays (350). It was a Decade of the Pitcher and yet Harmon's homerun total is the fifth-most for any decade—after Babe Ruth in the 1920s (467), Alex Rodriguez in the 2000s (435), Jimmie Foxx in the 1930s (415) and Mark McGwire in the 1990s (405). These days, homeruns are flying out at a crazy pace, but the most homeruns anyone hit in the 2010s is 347 by Nellie Cruz. That's great, but it's still a superlative season away from Harmon's total. Again, Harmon did this in the Decade of the Pitcher.
  • He was the first player elected to the All-Star game at three differen positions: 3B (first time in 1959), LF (in 1964), and 1B (first time in 1965). The LF entry is the one that throws me. Killer played left field? But yeah: From 1962 through the 1964 season, he was almost exclusively a left fielder. Barely a glimmer of it before (six games total through the ‘61 seasaon), and barely a glimmer after (20 games from 1965 until retirement after ’75). To me, he was always 3B-1B. Then just 1B. Then DH. Then a KC Royal. Then retired. Then a Hall of Famer. Eventually. 
  • When he retired he had the fifth-most homeruns in baseball history—after Aaron, Ruth, Mays, and Frank Robinson. Even after the homer-happy juiced-ball, juiced-players era we‘re in, he’s still 12th all-time, and four of the guys ahead of him (McGwire, Sosa, A-Rod and Bonds) are a little suspect.
  • He was supposedly scouted by a U.S. Senator, Herman Welker (R-ID), who told Senators owner Calvin Griffith about this Idaho kid hitting over .800 in semi-pro. Griffith sent someone to check him out, then signed him for $50k. Others in the running? Boston Red Sox. 
  • Is this the one good thing Welker did? He was a staunch defender of Sen. Joe McCarthy to the end, and was one of just 22 Republicans who voted against censuring McCarthy for his “red scare”/“lavender scare” tactics. Welker also allegedly threatened to “out” the son of Sen. Lester C. Hunt (D-WY) as a homosexual unless Hunt agreed to retire or refused to run for office again. On June 19, 1954, Hunt killed himself.
  • Crap, back to this bullshit. It never goes away, does it? I guess it's always there. It's a forever battle. 
  • Let's end on an upbeat note: It seemed a rare game I went to at Met Stadium in Bloomington, Minnesota, where Harmon Killebrew did not hit two homeruns. He did that 45 times in his career, but how many could I have seen? I should crunch the numbers on that sometime. On another day when I need it. 
Posted at 07:24 AM on Thursday December 12, 2019 in category Baseball  
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