Harmon Killebrew

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Harmon Killebrew, Mormon baseball star

Harmon Killebrew was a professional baseball star in the United States, and now is a public speaker and philanthropist. Killebrew is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, sometimes casually called the Mormon Church. Harmon Killebrew was born on June 29, 1936, in Payette, Idaho, to Harmon Clayton, Sr. and Katherine Pearl (May) Killebrew. He was the youngest of four children. Killebrew earned 12 letters in various sports and was named an All-American football quarterback at Payette High School. His uniform number was later retired by the school. He was offered an athletic scholarship by the University of Oregon, but opted to attend the College of Idaho instead.

Killebrew was signed by the Washington Senators at the age of 17, the youngest player in the major leagues at the time. Killebrew was known as "one of the most prolific power hitters in major league baseball history." Official website He was second only to Babe Ruth in American League (AL) home runs. [1] At only 5'11" tall, he had a compact swing that generated tremendous power. He became one of the AL's most feared power hitters of the 1960s, belting 40 homers in a season eight times. He later played for the Minnesota Twins (1961-1974), getting them close to a world series title. In 1975, Killebrew signed with the Kansas City Royals. He batted only .199, and at the end of the season, he chose to retire.

"With exceptional upper-body strength, Killebrew was known not just for the frequency of his home runs but also for their great distance. He hit the longest measured home runs at Metropolitan Stadium and Memorial Stadium, and was the first of just four batters who hit a baseball over the left field roof at Tiger Stadium. His prowess as a power hitter earned him the nicknames 'Killer' and 'Hammerin' Harmon'." (Wikipedia)

Killebrew played pro baseball for twenty-two years. In that time, he was named American League All-Star 13 times. He was also named the 1969 American League Most Valuable Player, and was a six-time American League home run leader. At the time of his retirement, he had hit more home runs (573) than any right-handed hitter. In 1984, Killebrew was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Killebrew was a television broadcaster for the Twins from 1976 to 1978, the Oakland Athletics from 1979 to 1982, the California Angels in 1983, and back with Minnesota from 1984 to 1988. He also served as a major- and minor-league hitting instructor. After retiring from baseball Killebrew went into business, first in insurance and then founding an auto dealership in Oregon. In the late 1980's he went through a divorce and suffered from some severe health problems. He sold the dealership in 1990, moved to Arizona, and entered into the field of public speaking and endorsements. In 1998, Harmon and his wife Nita founded the Harmon Killebrew Foundation, Ltd. The foundation enables the couples philantropic efforts. The Killebrews have garnered the help of other Hall of Famers as an asset to the Miracle League to offer advice and assistance in fundraising efforts across the country.

The street along the south side of the Mall of America, the former site of the Metropolitan Stadium ("The Met"), has been named "Killebrew Drive" in honor of Harmon Killebrew. In 1974, his uniform number 3 was the first to be retired by the Twins, and is only one of five Twins to have their numbers retired. Reggie Jackson once said, "If Harmon Killebrew isn't the league's best player, I've never seen one. He's one of the greatest of all time."

Killebrew had five children with his wife Elaine before they divorced after 34 years in the 1980s. In the early 1990s, he married Nita. Their family consists of 9 children, 23 grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren.

Suffering from esophageal cancer, in May, 2011, Killebrew announced through the press that he was suspending treatment and entering hospice care, since his doctors had deemed his cancer incurable after prolonged treatment. [2] Killebrew passed away at age 74, on May 17, 2011. [3]