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“He was as intimidating as hell,” Hinske added.

But he wasn’t always the tough guy. Philadelphia Phillies manager Charlie Manuel became friends with Killebrew and Bob Allison during his first spring training with the Twins and often fished together in a Florida lake.

“There were some alligators in there, otters and things like that in there that would bump up against your leg,” Manuel said. “They would get scared. So I would take the fish chain and hook it to the boat, and I’d wade and pull the boat. That was part of being a rookie.”

Whether as an 18-year-old with the Washington Senators in 1954 or playing for Kansas City in his final season in 1975, Killebrew carried himself the same unassuming way.

“He never walked around with his nose in the air. Never, ever. He used to go out after every game and get a milkshake. A super guy,” said former Royals second baseman Frank White, a youngster who played with Killebrew that final year.

The Twins played at Seattle on Tuesday night. Manager Ron Gardenhire said it was a somber clubhouse.

“A lot of guys out there are really sad. We’re all honored that at least we had the chance to hang out with him a little and get to know him. He touched a lot of lives out there, not just on the baseball field, but the way you should handle yourself and a little bit about respect,” Gardenhire said.

Hrbek’s suburban home was mere blocks from old Metropolitan Stadium, a future Twins first baseman who became Minnesota’s next true home-run hitter after being inspired by all those trips to the left-field bleachers to watch No. 3 bat fourth and aim for the fence, and beyond.

“You didn’t ever leave the ballpark if the Twins had the chance to tie the ballgame or win the ballgame and Harmon was making it to the plate,” Hrbek said.

He joined five other former Twins players at Target Field on Tuesday to share memories of Killebrew. Jack Morris, the 1991 World Series MVP and another native of the Twin Cities, grew up cheering for Killebrew during his heyday in the late 1960s.

“I lost a hero today,” Morris said, his voice cracking and his eyes watering.

“To remember the innocence of being a young kid who just looked up to a guy he didn’t know because of what he did as a baseball player, something that you hoped that maybe some day you could be like,” Morris said. “But as a grown man, I look back at him now not as that guy, but as the guy who tried to show me that you don’t have to be angry. You don’t have to be mad. You can love and share love. We’re all going to miss him, and we’re all going to love him forever.”

Killebrew was the American League MVP in 1969 at age 33 with 49 homers and 140 RBIs. His eight seasons with 40 or more homers still are tied for second in history to Babe Ruth.

Twins President Dave St. Peter said the team will wear a No. 3 patch on the uniforms for the rest of the season. A replica of his smooth, eloquent signature _ Killebrew chided current Twins player Michael Cuddyer earlier in his career for a sloppy autograph _ will be printed on the outfield wall. The team also planned a public memorial service, likely for May 26.

“I’m 32 years old. I never got to see him play. The majority of the people now never did get to see him as a baseball player,” Cuddyer said. “But the reason he has made such an impact on the world is because of who he was outside of baseball, the 30-plus years after he retired from baseball. He continued to be an ambassador not just of baseball but of life in general.”

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