Harmon Killebrew (1936-2011) and the 5/18 Sports Ticker

Photo courtesy of
‘Harmon Killebrew’
courtesy of ‘librarygrrrl’

The Lead Item: Yesterday, Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew lost his battle to cancer, passing away at age 74. This isn’t a stretch by any means to put into context for Washington baseball fans and history. As you can see above, Killebrew is topped by a Twins cap on his plaque up in Cooperstown, but he also is among the best to ever wear a jersey for the Washington Senators.

While spending much of the mid-50s going back and forth between Washington minor league affiliates, Killebrew made a more regular move to the Show in 1959, the penultimate season of the squad before it moved to Minneapolis. Mind you, Killebrew didn’t have a huge impact while the team was in Washington (in his two seasons playing full-time with the franchise before it packed up to go north, the Senators finished 8th and 5th in the 8-team AL), but at least we can tell the story that the legend of ‘The Killer’ Killebrew began here in DC. Sports Illustrated‘s Joe Posnaski passed on this story of the not-really-overnight, overnight success story of the youngster from Idaho:

Then, the blossoming of Harmon Killebrew happened. It was not gradual. It was instant. On May 1, 1959, Harmon Killebrew hit two home runs at Briggs Stadium in Detroit. There were fewer than 2,000 people in the stands — the Tigers were dreadful; they had lost 13 of their first 15 games. Killebrew homered in the second inning off a good young pitcher named Jim Bunning. In the 10th inning, with the score tied, Killebrew hit another homer off Bunning.

The next day, still in Detroit, Killebrew hit two more homers. He hit the first in the first inning off Jerry Davie. He hit the second off George Susce with the Senators up 12-3.

Two days after that, he homered in Chicago off Claude Raymond. After two more dry days, he again hit two home runs, this time at Yankee Stadium. He hit the first off Bob Turley, the other off Johnny Kucks. People were beginning to notice a bit now. On May 12, back at home, he had his fourth two-homer game in less than two weeks — off of Detroit’s Frank Lary and Ray Narleski.

Killebrew’s number 3 is off the shelves for Twins players these days. He was the 1969 MVP, a 13 time all-star and joined the hall of fame in 1984. He is remembered as one of the good guys, a role model – and he will forever be the protagonist in one of the good memories of American League ball in Washington.

Sports Ticker: So, the Preakness is this weekend up at Pimlico, and you may recall some news about trying to turn it into even more of a frat party, thanks to a half man, half keg mascot for the infield named, “Kegasus”…Alright, guy in Nationals jersey, why don’t you let the woman one arming a child while still making the snow cone snag of a foul ball get this one without interference?…the body of the Caps playoff hopes is still warm, but that doesn’t mean second, third and fourth guessing aren’t already well on their way. Today’s edition: Brooks Laich believes he will continue to Rock the Red…if you can ever call it that, some good timing on injuries to United’s Charlie Davies and Josh Wolff given that the team has the week off – wishing them both speedy recoveries so the team can keep up its loss-less May in MLS play against Portland on the 29th.

Closing Number: 6th – Lightning wasn’t able to strike twice, and even though last year’s luck-of-the-lottery #1 pick, John Wall, was there to represent the squad last night, the Wizards fell down a few spots to 6th in June’s NBA entry draft.

Dave Levy is a PR guy by day, a media researcher on the side and a self-proclaimed geek. He blogs often about how traditional media adapts – or tries to adapt – to the growing digital media world at State of the Fourth Estate. You can follow Dave on Twitter for various updates about everything from sports from his previous home in Boston to eccentric and obscure pop culture references. Read why Dave loves D.C.

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