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 Minnesota Twins > Twins Greats > Harmon Clayton Killebrew
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Harmon Clayton Killebrew
Harmon Clayton Killebrew

Birth name: Harmon Clayton Killebrew
Nickname: Killer
Birth date: June 29, 1936
Birth place: Payette, Idaho
Height: 6' Weight: 195 lbs
Batted: Right Threw: Right
Occupations: baseball player, baseball announcer, insurance business

Teams: Washington Senators (1954-1960), Minnesota Twins (1961-1974), Kansas City Royals (1975)
Led League in HR 59, 62-64, 67, 69
Led League in RBI’s 62, 69, 71
All-Star in 1959, 61, 63-71
Most Valuable Player Award in 1969
Hall Of Fame in 1984

“He was the backbone of the franchise.”
-- club President Calvin Griffith

"He hit line drives that put the opposition in jeopardy. And I don't mean infielders, I mean outfielders."
-- Washington Senators scout Ossie Bluege

"The homers he hit against us would be homers in any park, including Yellowstone."
-- manager Paul Richards

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One of the greatest home run hitters of all time, Harmon Killebrew will forever be remembered to Twins fans as the "Killer" for his prolific clouts. A member of the Twins from their inaugural Minnesota season in 1961, Killebrew hit 573 career home runs, 475 of them in his 14 seasons with the Twins, to place him 5th on the all-time home run list and second only to Babe Ruth in American League history. He hit over 40 home runs on eight occasions and 30-or-more 10 times while driving in 100-plus runs nine times.

Due to his raw power and monumental home run success, Harmon Killebrew became known as one of the hardest hitters in baseball. He played in the American League for 22 years and he hit more home runs than any other right-handed batter in League history at the time of his retirement. Though he may not have had a record breaking batting average he was a powerful, dynamitic hitter who could draw a crowd.

He was raised in a farming community in Payette, Idaho. He quickly established himself as gifted athlete, and was a high school All-State quarterback. Harmon Killebrew said, "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.' Dad would reply, 'We're not raising grass,’ 'We're raising boys.'" His fathers’ dedication was equally matched with Harmon’s own desire to succeed.

While playing in an impromptu baseball game Senators scout Ossie Bluege saw his powerful hits and reported back to Washington. He was then snatched up by the Washington Senators who offered the 17 year old a surprising $30,000 package, an annual salary of $6,000, the league minimum, and a yearly bonus of $4,000. Since Harmon Killebrew was a “bonus baby” he spent the next five years sitting on the bench only getting some minor league playing time, before getting the chance to prove his power. Finally, opening day of the 1959 season he had his first year as a Senator regular. He was not an instant success as a major league player, but eventually with practice and patience he became a major hitter. “I found out early in life I could hit a baseball farther than most players, and that’s what I tried to do,” Harmon said.

The Washington Senators moved to Minnesota in 1961 to become the Minnesota Twins, and Harmon Killebrew had his best year. While playing for the Twins he had 48 homers in 1962, 45 in 1963 and 49 in 1964. The Twins started getting respect in the industry due to this hard hitting player, and in 1969 he led the Twins to the first American League West title. In 1968 he suffered from a ruptured hamstring which almost ended his career, but bounced back in 1969 and played all 162 games. During his career he did not play a specific position and often played two different positions in one game. He could typically be found on third base, first base or the outfield. He was a valuable fielder because of his well-known agility.

His last big hitting season was 1970 were he led the Twins into a division title with 41 homers. After difficult 1971 and 1972 seasons Harmon played less frequently, and began to serve mainly as a part-time designated hitter. His home runs went from 41 in 1970 to 28 in 1971; by 1972 he only hit 26 homers. He ended his big league career in 1975 with the Kansas City Royals. After his retirement he became a Twins broadcaster, later he started an insurance business, Killebrew & Harding, Inc. in Boise, Idaho with a former U.S. Congressman.

Harmon Killebrew had numerous achievements during his baseball career. In 1959 he won the home run title with 42 homers. In 1969 he won the Most Valuable Player award when he hit 49 home runs with an amazing 140 RBI and 145 walks, all team records that still stand. His record makes him third behind Babe Ruth and Ralph Kiner in home run percentage with 7.0. His career total for home runs is 573, and he was named an American League All-Star 13 times. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on January 10, 1984, the first Twin to receive that honor. He had his number 3 formally retired on August 11, 1974.

After moving here with the team, Harmon Killebrew brought instant excitement to the new Minnesota Twins franchise with his powerful bat. He easily brought the Minnesota fans out to watch him make history as a Twin “great.”

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