“I waited for the rain to stop in Payette, Idaho and then he hit one a mile over the left field fence,” Bluege said. “I stepped it off the next morning and measured it at 435 feet. That convinced me.”
Killebrew didn’t just hit balls over the fence, he turned at-bats into longest-drive contests. He never worried much about his short game, preferring instead to swing for the fences, and wound up with a career .256 average.
“I didn’t think much about batting average when I was playing,” Killebrew said.
On June 3, 1967, Killebrew belted the longest home run in Met Stadium history, a shot that reached the second deck of the bleachers in the old park, some 500 feet from home plate.
“He hit line drives that put the opposition in jeopardy,” Bluege once said. “And I don’t mean the infielders. I mean the outfielders.”
Killebrew finished his career with one season in Kansas City in 1975.
Jane Forbes Clark, chairman of National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, said Killebrew personified Hall of Fame excellence and was simply one of the greatest hitters of all time.
“Since joining the Hall of Fame family in 1984, Harmon was a beacon of light among his fellow Hall of Famers, always smiling, always enjoying every moment that life delivered to his doorstep,” she said. “We have so many fond memories of this wonderful baseball hero, and we will miss him enormously.”
Killebrew and Nita had nine children.
In retirement, he became a successful businessman in insurance, financial planning and car sales. He also traveled the country with baseball memorabilia shows and returned to the Twin Cities regularly, delighting in conversations with fans and reunions with teammates.
“I never thought anything would compare to being elected into the Hall of Fame, but being able to interact with fans once my playing days were over has been just as gratifying,” Killebrew said.
Harmon Killebrew’s website: http://www.harmonkillebrew.com
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