The man they called “Killer” won his fame for smashing a baseball farther than anyone else could in baseball’s pre-steroid era. But he won the admiration of millions for killing people with kindness. Today #3 passed away at the age of 74 from cancer while in hospice care in Arizona. In his home state of Minnesota, the legislature pauses for a moment of silence upon news of the death of Minnesota Twins Fall of Fame slugger Harmon Killebrew.
Harmon Killebrew was also honored today before the U.S. Senate in a Congressional Record Statement authored by the U.S. Senators from Minnesota and Idaho.
The full text of the statement, which was delivered by Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) on behalf of his colleagues Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken (D-Minn.) and Jim Risch (R-Idaho), is below.
Mr. CRAPO: Mr./Madam President, my colleagues Senators Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) and Al Franken (D-Minnesota) join me today in honoring the life of Harmon Clayton Killebrew. We join with his family and friends in mourning his passing and paying tribute to his inspirational life.
Harmon Killebrew began his exemplary athletic career in Idaho. He was born June 29, 1936 in Payette, Idaho where he earned multiple awards as an athlete in baseball, basketball and football at Payette High School. Harmon explained his childhood in Idaho in a way that fellow Idahoans could clearly understand. He often shared this quote from his childhood. “My father used to play with my brother and me in the yard. Mother would come out and say, ‘You’re tearing up the grass’; ‘We’re not raising grass,’ Dad would reply. ‘We’re raising boys.’” We understand Harmon often credited then-U.S. Senator from Idaho, Herman Welker, for recommending to then-Washington Senators owners, the Griffith family, that their team sign Killebrew, and at age 17, Killebrew signed his first professional baseball contract with the Washington Senators.
He went on to play his first seven seasons here in Washington, DC, before moving with the franchise to Minnesota in 1961, when it would be renamed the Minnesota Twins. Killebrew played fourteen seasons in Minnesota, making the all-star team in ten of those seasons. He also competed in the 1965 World Series, where his Twins would lose to the Los Angeles Dodgers in seven games. Killebrew completed his professional baseball career in 1975, playing one season with the Kansas City Royals.
His remarkable skills earned him due recognition. He was awarded the American League Most Valuable Player Award in 1969, when he led the league in both home runs and runs batted in. Killebrew’s #3 uniform was retired by the Minnesota Twins, and he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1984. His accomplishment of 573 career home runs currently ranks 11th on the all-time baseball list.
Killebrew’s legacy extends far beyond the baseball field. He remained active in Idaho following his retirement, including taking the lead on many important charitable efforts. In 1977, Killebrew and former Idaho Representative Ralph Harding founded the Danny Thompson Memorial Golf Tournament, in honor of Killebrew’s former Minnesota Twins teammate, who died from leukemia in 1976. Since then, this annual tournament, played in Sun Valley, Idaho, has raised more than $11 million, which has been leveraged with matching grants to over $25 million, for leukemia and cancer research. Each year, these proceeds are divided equally between St. Luke’s Mountain States Tumor Institute in Boise, Idaho and the University of Minnesota Cancer Research Center.
Harmon Killebrew’s talent and hard work have inspired countless young athletes, and he leaves behind a legacy of encouraging skill and dedicated service. We extend our condolences and prayers to his family, friends and loved ones and deep gratitude for his compassion, service and leadership.