They say history and tradition in baseball is lost on the youth, but that’s clearly not the case in Minnesota. The Twins players decided to wear 1961 throwback jerseys for all games the rest of the season as a tribute to franchise Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew, who has entered hospice care.
It was revealed Friday that Killebrew would enter hospice care after doctors determined his esophageal cancer was incurable. The 11-time All-Star and Hall of Famer was a consistent presence with the franchise after his retirement. He made annual trips to Florida to help instruct the team during Spring Training and would show up for games in Minnesota, forging friendships with the current players.
Not only did Minnesota’s players decide to wear the 1961 throwback jerseys for home games the rest of the season, they also began hanging Killebrew’s number three jersey in the dugout for games (pictured above). Michael Cuddyer, who played a key role in the decision to wear the throwbacks, said about Killebrew “The only way I do know him is as a mentor, as a genuine person. He was a father figure to pretty much everybody he met. That says it all.”
When Killebrew won the AL MVP award in 1969, he hit 49 homers with 140 RBIs and 145 walks — all single-season records for the Twins. His 573 career home runs were fifth on baseball’s all-time list when he retired (he’s now 11th). Even though his numbers are impressive, what stands out the most is how strongly the current players feel about him.
When players retire, they often leave the game and find it difficult to relate to players of the newer generation. It shows how well respected Killebrew is that the players decided to make tributes to a player who retired before most of them were born.
Photo Credits: Hannah Foslien/Getty ImagesGoogle+