Friday, May 13, 2011

Harmon Killebrew, Field of Dreams, and my dad

Hospice care promoter, and Minnesota Twins great, Harmon Killebrew announced today that he himself will enter hospice care and give up his battle against esophageal cancer.  He is a good man, a hall-of-famer, and he is a part of every Twins fan's memory.

My father, who was a life-long twins fan, was the first one to teach me about Harmon Killebrew.  I can remember sitting in the now deflated Metrodome as a boy with my dad.  I would watch a game that I was learning to love, and listen to my dad share stories about the old Met Stadium, and Tony Oliva, and Jim Kaat, and Rod Carew, and of course, the great Harmon Killebrew.

Killebrew was a monster of a hitter.  His 573 career home runs currently place him 11th on the all-time home run list in Major League Baseball.  His eight seasons with 40 or more home runs ties him for second all-time.  He was an 11-time All Star, and he was MLB's MVP in 1969 when he had 49 home runs, 140 RBIs, and had 145 walks.  They called him The Killer.  And The Killer is one of us.  He is a Minnesota Twin.  And he helped my dad fall in love with baseball.

My dad passed away almost ten years ago now.  And like anyone who has had to say goodbye to a loved one in their life, I miss my dad.  Every time I
watch the Twins play, I think about him.  This year my brother and I had my dad's name engraved on a memorial wall just outside the new Twins stadium.  There's a quote by Garrison Keillor at the top of it.  And fittingly, it stands a couple dozen feet away from the statue of my own childhood Twins hero, Kirby Puckett.  It also stands a couple dozen feet away from my dad's childhood Twins hero.  The statue of Harmon Killebrew.

James Earl Jones told us in Field of Dreams that baseball has the mark of time.  That basebell is a part of our past.  That this game reminds us of all of what was once good, and what could be again.  Reading the news today about Harmon Killebrew reminded me of my dad, and the days of my youth, when I would eat Cracker Jacks and listen to my old man go on an on about some old guys that I'd never heard of before.  The news today reminded me of my dad's love for baseball, and his love for me.

Mr. Killebrew, if you ever run across this piece, I want to thank you for all the memories you've given so many of us.  But mostly, I want to thank you for helping my old man fall in love with baseball.  May God grant you peace.

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