It was under Calvin Griffith that Harmon Killebrew landed a full-time role with the Washington Senators and eventual Twins, hitting 73 home runs over the final two seasons of Senators baseball in Washington, D.C. From 1959 until 1970, Killebrew would hit 40 or more home runs eight times, including 48 in 1962 and 49 in 1964 and 1969, the same year he was named the American League MVP.
Not only did he hit his home runs in bunches, he also became known for his powerful swing and gravity-defying blasts, according to “Ultimate Slugger,” a 2012 biography of Harmon by sportswriter Steve Aschburner.
“His home runs were spectacular,” Hall of Fame Orioles third baseman Brooks Robinson said about Killebrew, according to the book. “He hit (68 home runs) against us, and I got tired of seeing him run around third base. He had the nicest, sweetest stroke you would want to see for a home run hitter. He just rested his bat on his shoulder, just took it back and — wham! No extra motion, no hitch or anything. He just muscled it out.”
In August 1962, according to the book, Killebrew delivered one of his biggest hits, smashing a home run off Detroit Tigers pitcher Jim Bunning that left Tiger Stadium.
“No one had ever done that,” Aschburner writes.
The date of that game isn’t mentioned in the book, but after checking Baseball-Reference.com, it appears to have been played on Aug. 3, 1962, a 7-4 Twins win. Killebrew took Bunning deep (really deep) in the fourth inning, hitting a two-run home run in the fourth inning. It was his 27th dinger of the year. Harmon went 2-for-5 in that game and drove in three runs.
Our visit to Payette, Idaho isn’t just about learning more about Killebrew and his hometown, we’re also on vacation, so we headed north of Payette to Weiser, Idaho and played nine holes of golf at Rolling Hills Golf Course on Tuesday. We had beautiful weather and the course pretty much to ourselves.
Weiser also has a major league baseball connection. Walter Johnson, the Hall of Fame pitcher for the Washington Senators during the early part of the 20th century, played semi-pro ball in Weiser, according to Aschburner’s book. In 1907, his second season there, Johnson went 14-2 with a 0.55 ERA and 214 strikeouts in 146 innings, Aschburner writes. For Johnson, arguably the greatest major league baseball pitcher of all time, those numbers sound just right.
-The Twins went quietly Tuesday, losing 3-1 to the Chicago Cubs at home. The Twins scored a run in the bottom of the first and that was it. They were 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position, left seven men on base and grounded into two double plays.
-I’m looking forward to Wednesday’s game. Top pitching prospect and Team USA silver medalist winner, Joe Ryan, who came to the Twins from the Tampa Bay Rays in the Nelson Cruz trade, gets the ball. By all accounts, his brief time spent at Triple-A St. Paul has been sensational.