Tue May 17 12:01pm EDT
The terrible news that Harmon Killebrew told us himself was coming has already arrived. The Hall of Fame slugger passed away in Scottsdale, Ariz., on Tuesday morning at the age of 74 with his family at his side. His death comes just four days after the Minnesota Twins legend told the baseball world that he was halting treatment for his esophageal cancer and entering hospice care.
It's an absolute gut punch to learn that baseball has lost one of its best and brightest ambassadors, but we can take solace that Killebrew will forever remain one of the game's giants. Over a 22-year career, he hit 573 homers (the 11th-best total in history), led the American League in homers on six different occasions, played in the 1965 World Series and won the 1969 AL MVP award. He has been rumored to be the inspiration for MLB's iconic logo and was once named by Sports Illustrated as the best athlete to come out of Idaho. His eight seasons of 40 or more home runs are second only to a guy named Babe Ruth.
"No individual has ever meant more to the Minnesota Twins organization and millions of fans across Twins territory than Harmon Killebrew [... His legacy] will be the class, dignity and humility he demonstrated each and every day as a Hall of Fame-quality husband, father, friend, teammate and man. The Twins extend heartfelt sympathies and prayers to the Killebrew family at this difficult time."
The greatest thing about Hammerin' Harmon, though, is that you don't have to recite a litany of statistics to make people fully appreciate his greatness. Indeed, a simple obituary could have been written just by displaying the photo at the top of this post — those forearms, that swing, that power — and allowing it to say everything for which we struggled to find the right words. Rest in peace, Mr. Killebrew.