Remembering a Great Idahoan and an Even Better Man
The most famous Idahoan of all time wasn’t Frank Church or William Borah. It was a kid from Payette. His name was Harmon Killebrew. It was 69 years ago this week that the young man signed a contract with the Washington Senators. The club was dreadful. He was great. And he only got better. When the franchise moved to Minnesota and became the Twins in the early 1960s, he was the cornerstone of the franchise. He would spend more than two decades in Major League Baseball and became the definition of a “power hitter”.
I read a story about Killebrew’s bat. During a road stand, he smacked a home run that was considered the longest shot ever seen in the opponent’s park. The next day, he pounded a dinger that was even longer.
A few years ago, I was visiting the Payette County Historical Society. Two members of the volunteer staff had known him since he was a boy. They explained that the man he became never had a big head and always remained a friendly presence when he frequently came back home. A guy who had time for everyone. He was also the definition of a “gentleman”.
Harmon Killebrew looked at baseball as his job. One that he truly enjoyed. I believe what speaks volumes about his character is where he’s buried. In his hometown cemetery. And it takes some time to find his plot. Though, you know it when you see it because the monument makes it clear he played baseball.
Before I left that sunny Saturday, I stopped before the stone, bowed my head, and said a prayer. He was the kind of man I would like to be. It was easy for him, while I struggle.