I can’t believe I almost forgot this but it’s time to wish Harmon Killebrew a happy birthday. Harmon turned 72 today. It seems like just yesterday that I was watching Harmon playing at Metropolitan Stadium down in Bloomington. (Yes, it was first called Metropolitan Stadium before it got nicknamed The Met.)

My first Twins game was in August, 1966, against the Baltimore Orioles at the Met. When the Twins rallied for 9 runs in the bottom of the 8th inning, Harmon & Tony O were in the middle of the uprising.

I can’t honestly claim to have attended the game when Harmon hit a shot into the upper deck in left against the Angels but I was there the next day when Haromn hit one off the facing of the second deck against lefty Lew Burdette. Utterly crushed the ball. The ball hit off the centerfield side of the scoreboard, which meant it was in the power alley portion of the outfield. Easily 450+ feet.

Harmon was a gentleman’s gentleman, too. I’m proud to say that I met Harmon in St. Cloud when Crown Auto opened at 24th & Division. He came there & signed autographs for well over an hour. What’s neat was that Harmon smiled the entire time. He was joking much of the time.

If I’m sounding like a Twins homer, well, that’s because it was impossible not to be if you grew up during that era. With Harmon, Tony Oliva & Rod Carew anchoring the batting order & with Jim Kaat, Jim Perry & a young Bert Blyleven (Bert was a 19-year-old rooking 1970) anchoring the pitching staff, the Twins had a ton of talent.

BTW, if Harmon played today, he wouldn’t have finished with 573 HR’s, which was 4th best at the time. This Baseball Almanac diagram shows the difficulty of hitting a ball out in the power allies. It was entirely possible to hit a ball 405 feet into the leftfield power alley & get robbed of an extra base hit by Paul Blair. In today’s game, a ball hit 405 feet in a power alley wouldn’t even warrant a chase. It’d clear every park in America, with the exception of Yellowstone, by 20 feet. More times than I care to remember, Harmon had doubles that landed at the base of the 430 foot sign just to the rightfield side of centerfield.

That’s only one side of Harmon, though. Harmon still shows up in Ft. Meyers every spring to work with that year’s power hitters. Many is the lesson that Justin Morneau & Michael Cuddyer have learned from Harmon. In future years, I’m certain that players like Jason Kubel & Delmon Young will learn from him, too.

That’s part of the Twins’ magic. Rod Carew & Tony Oliva teach the kids hitting, with Rod working with guys like Denard Span, Alexi Casilla & Carlos Gomez on bunting. Paul Molitor spends time workingh on baserunning.

Now you’re seeing why it’s easy being a Twins fan. If you love baseball played right, it’s impossible not to love them. They play the game right. Day after day, game after game, season after season.

I’d like to think alot of that’s happened because it all started with Harmon. Happy Birthday, Harmon. You’re the best.

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2 Responses to “Happy Birthday, Harmon!!!”

  • DKUEHL says:

    More eloquent and insightful words on the story behind a sporting team have ever been spoken. So many ideas come into play- respect your elders, it takes a village, and on and on. I wasn’t aware of this going on in camp- but it makes more sense now. I wish Puckett were still alive to carry on the tradition; he and Hrbek in the cage and Gags teaching the hoover to the next crop of future piranas. I like it alot.

  • Alison says:

    My best team of MLB is The Minnesota Twins . This why I always fallow their games especially whenever I have some time. I’m always trying not o miss any of their game and hear about the team’s news. But The Minnesota Twins tickets get more pricy especially when there are some hot games. But, if we’re really good fans we should try not to be mean when we’re talking about a favourite teams. It’s not only the Twins tickets that got pricy, but there are other major teams too, so the team needs our support and we should provide as much as we can.

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