On Friday, May 13, former Minnesota Twins' slugger, Harmon Killebrew, announced that his battle with esophageal cancer was nearing its end. As always, Harmon's statement, focused on the Twins, his wife, and his acceptance of his fate, reflected the class and dignity that Harmon forever has exuded.
Throughout the 1960s and into the 70s, Harmon was as ferocious a hitter as ever played the game of baseball. His 11 all-star appearances and MVP season were more than matched, however, by his unwavering following among Twins' fans. Among those adoring fans was my grandmother, who went to Twins games not so much because she liked the game of baseball, but more because she was enamored with Harmon--his skill, his style, and his genuineness on and off the field.
Nearly a decade ago, my grandfather, a die-hard Twin and Viking fan, passed away. My grandmother was despondent. Knowing of her eternal fondness for Harmon Killebrew, I sent an e-mail to Twins' President Dave St. Peter inquiring whether it was possible to obtain a photo of Harmon for my grandmother.
Mr. St. Peter asked for my grandmother's address. I sent it, never expecting to hear back.
Two weeks later, I received a call from my father informing me that my grandmother had received a photograph of Harmon depicting him in his playing days. Accompanying the photo was a personalized message from Harmon.
When my grandmother passed away two years ago, she had lived long enough to distribute most of her possessions to her children and grandchildren. Among those items she passed along were numerous photographs.
Among the very few items that my grandmother retained until her death, however, was the personalized photograph of Harmon. However silly to some, the photograph and accompanying expression of sympathy and encouragement were invaluable to my grandmother, helping her make it through a very difficult time in her life.
Though Harmon's run here appears to be nearing an end, hopefully he will leave knowing that, like my grandmother, those who even had a passing affair with him cherished the experience. If there is something after this life, surely Harmon will make that something better for those around him.