Sunday, January 5, 2014

Harmon Clayton Killebrew

I will link from time to time to articles by Joe Posnanski. I don't have him listed among my links, because he doesn't write exclusively about baseball, but the man has serious writing chops. Reading Joe Posnanski is the literary equivalent of this:

Anyway, Posnanski has been writing up his 100 greatest players of all time, and Friday's entry was about Harmon Killebrew. It's a great piece, and you can read it all here. As you may know, Killebrew was what was classified as a "bonus baby." The Senators paid so much money for him in 1954 ($30,000 as a 17-year-old in) that the rules at the time (this was before the draft) required the Senators to keep him on their roster for two years. He hardly played those two years, nor the next three, when he was mostly in the minors. That brought him to 1959:
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 young pitcher named Jim Bunning. In the 10th inning, with the score still 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 second 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 — hitting his homers off Detroit’s Frank Lary and Ray Narleski. 
On May 17, in the second game of a double header, he had his fifth two-homer game, one off Bob Shaw, the other off Turk Lown. 
That made 11 homers in 17 games — with five two-homer games — and suddenly Harmon Killebrew was an overnight sensation. Mel Brooks used to say: “It only took me 20 years to become an overnight sensation.” 
As I said, the article's fabulous. Check it out.

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