Harmon Killebrew’s Hall of Fame career as one of the most powerful sluggers baseball has known was merely a subplot to his story as family and friends gathered to say goodbye.
What they recalled most was Killebrew the gentle, caring man who treated all those he encountered with respect.
Several hundred mourners, including past and present members of the Minnesota Twins, attended Killebrew’s funeral service at a suburban north Phoenix church on a gorgeous sunny Friday morning.
Killebrew, who hit 573 home runs in his long major league career, died Tuesday at his home in Scottsdale, Ariz., of esophageal cancer at 74.
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Former teammate and fellow Hall of Famer Bert Blyleven had those in attendance stand and cheer Killebrew for an imagined home run No. 574 near the end of the service, and the crowd responded with a rousing effort.
But it was Killebrew the man who was celebrated far more than Killebrew the baseball player.
Son Cam spoke of the outpouring of support his father had received in recent months as he fought the deadly disease.
“I don’t think he really realized how much he was loved,” he said. “That’s the kind of man he was. He was so humble. He got a lot of things but I’m not sure he really got that, and it was just beautiful.”
SELIG ADDRESSES DODGERS’ DISPUTE
Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig calls the Los Angeles Dodgers’ turbulent ownership situation “historic,” and acknowledges that the league has stepped in to help financially troubled teams in the past.
But for now, Selig is dodging speculation that Major League Baseball will have to help one of its flagship clubs meet upcoming payroll obligations.
Selig said he understands that Dodgers fans are concerned about the state of the club, and reassured them that MLB is doing what’s necessary to provide stability until a long-term solution is found.
Major League Baseball is looking into photos of Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier making an obscene gesture on the field during batting practice recently. Ethier told reporters he was frustrated by one photographer taking the same picture. He apologized and called it a “dumb incident.”… Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo says he is not under investigation for verbally confronting umpires underneath the stands following a controversial call. … The Phillies placed center fielder Shane Victorino on the disabled list with a hamstring injury. … The Indians placed designated hitter Travis Hafner on the 15-day DL with a strained side muscle. … Dodgers shortstop Rafael Furcal will rejoin the team today to have his knee examined. Furcal, who has been sidelined since April 11 with a broken thumb, banged his knee while sliding in a rehab game. … Rockies first baseman Todd Helton (stiff back) and left fielder Carlos Gonzalez (groin) were not in the starting lineup for Colorado’s game against Milwaukee Friday. … The Blue Jays right-hander Jesse Litsch (shoulder) was placed on the 15-day DL.