October 09, 2010
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Harmon Killebrew's career spanned the end of the original Washington Senators and the dawn of the Minnesota Twins. He blasted 573 homers over parts of 22 seasons in the majors, culminating in his election to the Hall of Fame — on his fourth attempt — in 1984.
Now 74, Killebrew remains a big fan and ambassador for the Twins. Before a recent ALDS game at Target Field, Killebrew stopped for a few moments to reminisce.
Also: Scroll down for audio from the interview.
David Brown: Hello, Mr. Killebrew, I'm Dave Brown from Yahoo! Sports.
Harmon Killebrew: Nice to meet you, Dave Brown. From where?
DB: Yahoo! Sports.
Killebrew: [Excitedly] Yahoo!
DB: Do you go online?
HK: Well ... no. Not really. Except for HarmonKillebrew.com [laughs].
DB: OK, I'm old enough to remember Metropolitan Stadium and I'm contrasting it in my mind right now as I look around Target Field. Is this place anything like the Met?
HK: Yes, two things. It's outside and it has grass and dirt [laughs]. That's about the only comparison to this ballpark and the Met. At the time, it was a good ballpark for us. I played there 14 years and it was good to our club; We had some great years there, playing the Dodgers in the World Series in '65 and we had the All-Star Game there in '65. But this ballpark is absolutely beautiful. Target Field, they've said, is the best venue in all of sports right now. I'd have to agree with them.
HK: Ha! Joe Mauer's the real deal. He is absolutely wonderful. Not only is he a great player, but he's a great human being. He's the kind of guy you'd like to see ... be your son.
DB: You've been very outspoken about performance-enhancing drugs and their effect on the game and that behavior in general. Some time has passed since that news was hot. Does it still sour the game for you?
HK: I think it did a lot of us former players, yeah. Guys cheated and it put a cloud over baseball that's still there. I don't know how it'll ever be removed. It's a sad deal.
DB: You don't think the drug testing in place does it?
HK: Oh, yeah, but what about the guys that used them and changed the statistics [and records] of the game forever?
DB: Did you use to go on David Letterman a lot?
HK: Used to a lot? I was on his show once [laughs].
DB: Just one?
HK: Well, I came out with other Hall of Famers to do a Top 10 deal a couple years ago, but you might remember me being on a whole show [laughs].
DB: That's right!
HK: Yep, I was on for a whole hour (in 1986). And that was the first time that ever happened. I said, "What am I gonna do with David Letterman for a whole hour?" They said, "Don't worry, we got it figured out, it'll work out fine."
DB: So what do you remember about the experience?
HK: At first, they called me to ask if I would do a segment for a special they were doing. I said, "No, I don't think I want to do that." But they kept after me and talked me into it and sent a crew out to Oregon and Idaho, where I was, and they spent a whole week out there. They did a lot of filming and they cut it down to an eight-minute segment [laughs].
So it came time for the show and they called me up and said, "We're not going to have time to put you on the show." I said, "Oh, great. Well, that's good [laughs]!" So I think they were feeling sorry or guilty and, a couple of months later they called and said, "Dave Letterman wants you to do the whole show." And I said, "Oh, I don't think so. What am I going to do with David Letterman for a whole hour?" And they said, "Aw, c'mon, it'll be great." Finally, I said I'd do it.
DB: Were you more of a Johnny Carson man?
HK: Well, in those days, yeah. I didn't really know Dave Letterman, but I knew he was a real baseball fan. Of course, when I was on there, it went great. Worked out real fine.
DB: Did he just like you?
HK: I think he just liked baseball. I think the writers were fans of mine, is how it all started. And that was it.
DB: Thank you so much for your time.
HK: Dave, thank you.
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Killebrew photo taken by my provided BlackBerry smartphone