Harmon Clayton Killebrew Jr. was a big, strapping teen-ager from Payette, Idaho, when he began playing for the Washington Senators in 1954. Monday, he will return for the fourth annual Cracker Jack Old Timers Baseball Classic with memories of his playing days here still fresh.
Culture shock tends to leave lasting impressions.
"I was still a 17-year-old when I signed with the team," Killebrew said from Minneapolis, where he spends summers as a commentator on the broadcasts of Twins games. "I had hardly been out of Idaho when I came into the big leagues. I was thrown into the Washington scene with all the politicians and presidents and vice presidents that we got to meet. It was quite an exciting place to play."
Dick Bosman and Jim Lemon, two other former Senators who will be playing Monday, have stayed in the Washington area. Neither is sure how much impact the game might have on the city's drive to get a major league team.
Lemon -- who played 12 years in the majors, seven with the Senators before their move to Minnesota, and also managed in Washington (1968) -- said, "The baseball people will say, 'Gee, they drew so many for a ball game.' But I don't think it will mean that much. With that lineup, you could draw in Padooka."
"I don't know whether you can measure the impact, but I suppose it's like advertising -- you never know the full value of it," said Bosman, a Senator from 1966 to '71, after which he went with the team to Texas.
Some of Bosman's fondest Washington baseball memories come not from days spent as a Senator but from the first Cracker Jack game in 1982.
"I remember that first year, throwing batting practice to Henry Aaron," Bosman said. "I remember standing on the mound saying to myself, 'Baby, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,' not knowing that I would have two more and, God willing, a fourth."
Eddie Yost spent 18 years in the big leagues, 12 as the regular third baseman of bad Senators teams from 1947-58 before he was traded to Detroit.
"We didn't have a ball club that won anything like a pennant," Yost said from his home in Wellesley, Mass. "They did have Eddie Yost Night for me, which was very enjoyable for me and my family. I received a number of gifts from fans, and the Griffith family gave me a new car. Generally, I enjoyed my many years in Washington because I like the town and the people."
Washington is also where Camilo Pascual broke into the majors, although he had more of his success when the team moved to Minnesota. Still, "there's always a little nostalgia coming back to Washington," Pascual said from his home in Miami. "I always remember when I was playing for Washington, the feel I had for the opening game. I remember one particular game I pitched against the New York Yankees. Mickey Mantle hit two balls out in center field in Washington. It was embarrassing but he was such a great hitter."
In 1963 with the Twins, Pascual went 21-9, had a 2.46 ERA and led the league in complete games (18) and strikeouts (202). But he says the season before will stick in his mind.
"In '62, I won my 20th game in the last game of the season against Baltimore, 1-0," he recalled. "It was a real treat winning 20 for the first time."