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The familiar logo that you see directly to the right of this text is Harmon Killebrew.A silhouette of the Hall-of-Fame slugger was the inspiration for the logo for the entirety major leagues. It’s a fitting distinction for a man who epitomized everything that was great about the game of baseball.
Killebrew, 74, passed away today after a long battle with esophageal cancer at his home in Arizona. Last week, Killebrew announced that he was ending his battle “with the awful disease” since it had become an un-winnable fight.
When he made the weighty declaration that his life was soon to be over, he did it with the utmost class and didn’t ask for a shred of pity. He acknowledged the support he received with humility while letting it be known that he was comfortable spending his last few days with his loved ones by his side. It was a resounding final bow that short and to the point.
Thanks for the love, I love you too, but I must be going.
The press loves to elevate the recently deceased to a level of near sainthood. George Steinbrenner, a controversial figure throughout his life, was rightfully praised for his work with charities and how good the Yankees were while he was in charge. They didn’t talk about the negative stuff too much, but it was touched upon a tad.
Every story about Steinbrenner could be summarized like this: he should be celebrated, but we acknowledge that we did just vilify the guy for the last four decades every time we wrote about him. There’s no fear of that when describing the life of Harmon Killebrew.
Killebrew’s nickname was a pseudo-misnomer. A man who once said that he has fun washing dishes as a hobby outside of baseball is typically not worthy of a nickname like Killer, but that was the fun part of it. He killed pitchers, but would never say a bad word about one. He even complimented umpires while on the field, telling them that they made a good call ringing him up on a called third strike! Not trying to sound like a curmudgeon here, but baseball players just don’t do that kind of stuff anymore.
Rivaled by maybe only Stan Musial in terms of unconditional love, Killebrew spent hours signing autographs for fans while actually engaging in conversation with them. He still did that after he retired, as he often showed up at memorabilia shows with a smile on his face and a pen his hand, laughing along with anyone who wanted to share a joke. He still attended Hall-of-Fame ceremonies long after he retired, sharing stories and rubbing elbows with players and fans alike. He was a reserved man most of the time, but talking about baseball with another soul is what got him excited.
Take a look around the internet after reading this. It’s a virtual guarantee that no one is saying a single ill word about Killebrew. I could have posed this challenge years ago while the internet was still in infancy and Killebrew was 100% healthy. No one said anything bad about him ever, save for possibly a pitcher that muttered something under his breath with his backed turned to the plate while watching a baseball fade into the horizon. Something like that can’t be considered a personal affront.
So the man from the logo is gone, but his legacy will surely endure while the MLB continues to thrive. It’s a fitting tribute to a man who loved the game and those around it with all of his heart.