Harmon Killebrew, who died earlier today, age 74, of esophogeal cancer, was the hero of my boyhood, which puts me in a group that includes several thousands of other boys born in Minnesota in the late 1950s. People are remembering his swing and all the home runs he hit. My fondest memory of Killebrew concerns his days as a color commentator for televised Twins games after his playing career was over. He wasn't very good at it. Everyone today is talking about how "affable" he was, and "decent," traits that possibly did not help him in the broadcast booth, where he never said anything that would upset anyone. I remember one of his sidekicks, speaking of Dave Kingman, who hit a lot of home runs but struck out a lot and hit for a low average, trying to engage Harmon on the question of whether Kingman one day might make it to the Hall of Fame. Now, Harmon also struck out a lot, and hit for a low average, but when he retired he was number 4 on the all-time home run list, and Kingman wasn't near the player he was. "Well," said Harmon, after a pause, "he'll certainly have to get some consideration."
But that is not the incident I'm thinking of. On another day, the Twins were playing a doubleheader, the result of a rainout, and Harmon's sidekick was talking about how rare doubleheaders were nowadays, since the players' union and the owners were both against them, and he noted that back in Harmon's day doubleheaders were sometimes scheduled, rather than being the last remedy for a rainout that had to be made up. "How did you feel about doubleheaders, Harmon?"
About five seconds of dead air, then Harmon allowed that he always liked doubleheaders. The sidekick evinced surprise. "What'd you like about them?" About five more seconds of dead air, then Harmon: "Well, I just liked playing baseball."