Harmon “The Killer” Killebrew murdered fastballs, yet always had a smile to share. (Photo Credit: CC BY-SA/Minnesota Historical Society/Flickr)

The Minnesota Twins have revealed that Hall of Fame slugger Harmon Killebrew has succumbed to esophageal cancer. The pride of Payette, Idaho, 11-time MLB All-Star and 1969 American League MVP was 74 years old. The Associated Press reports that Killebrew died peacefully in his sleep at his Scottsdale, Ariz., home on Tuesday. His wife Nita and their family were present.

Killebrew left the Mayo Clinic and entered Hospice

Various media sources published a statement from Killebrew on Monday that Mayo Clinic doctors could not halt the onslaught of the esophageal cancer because it had reached an advanced stage. Killebrew stated that he would spend his final days in Hospice care. He had announced his cancer diagnosis only six months prior.

‘The Killer’ delighted fans with bat, heart

Pitchers were never comfortable facing the 5-foot-11, 220-pound Killebrew as he swung mightily from the right-hand side of the plate. Bull-necked and burly with powerful arms and vice-like hands, the prematurely balding Harmon “The Killer” Killebrew hit majestic blasts that left fans swinging for adjectives. His 573 home runs over a 22-year career (1954-1975) currently put him at No. 11 on the all-time list, and he led the American League six times in home runs (once as a Washington Senator and five times as a Minnesota Twin) and in RBI three times. Killebrew’s powerful upper-cut swing is believed to be the batter silhouette that appears in the official MLB logo.

“He hit line drives that put the opposition in jeopardy,” former Washington Senators scout Ossie Bluege once said. “And I don’t mean the infielders. I mean the outfielders.”

Yet it was perhaps Killebrew’s jovial, soft-spoken nature that most endeared him to fans.

“No individual has ever meant more to the Minnesota Twins organization and millions of fans across Twins territory than Harmon Killebrew,” Twins president Dave St. Peter said. “Killebrew’s legacy will be the class, dignity and humility he demonstrated each and every day as a Hall of Fame-quality husband, father, friend, teammate and man.”

Baseball Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson said, “It’s ironic that his nickname was ‘Killer,’ as he was one of the nicest, most generous individuals to ever walk the earth.”

Sources

Associated Press: http://nbcsports.msnbc.com/id/43062969/ns/sports-baseball/

Baseball Reference: http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/k/killeha01.shtml

Boston Globe: http://bo.st/iLkYND

Minneapolis Star-Tribune: http://www.startribune.com/sports/twins/122004519.html

‘We’re here to love and help one other,’ said Killebrew

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